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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)
OK, I found a work around for the glitch in the LJ app on my iPad, so I can write this post and see it at the same time. Much better.

I'm in Andover, visiting with my mother and brother as has become my wont. My brother has another chemo appointment tomorrow, and I'll be accompanying him. Assuming that he find this as tolerable as the last one, it will be the start of an ongoing series of treatments.

I have spent about three months of this year back here, lending what support I can. Besides cutting into my income, it's changed the situation at the store significantly. Back in May, when my brother was first diagnosed, I was here for most of the month to rally round the flag, and then my father died, so I wound up not working that entire month. While I was away, it became clear that the fellow managing the store was derelict in his duties and, worse, lying to the board about it. So, the first day I came back, he was fired and Lefty took over again as store manager (he's been coming up every week from New York), and we began this intense process of damage control to get the delinquent bills paid. It was a difficult couple of months, but we got things back on track, and we started grooming me to take over as store manager.

And then we found out that the doctors at MGH had been really wrong about Dave's condition. September was tumultuous, and we tried to find a way to tag-team running the store with each of us doing it part-time, but it just didn't work. So, while I'm still working at the store, I have stepped down as a manager, gone back to working hourly, and taking a pay cut. We have put out a call for applicants to manage the Northampton store, and I'll help train them up to the job, when I'm not out here.

I hope that my brother and I might take some fun trips together soon. I'm particularly thinking of Hawaii and then New Zealand, but sojourns to New York or Chicago also sound good.

I have been thinking about what to do with myself, given that I have more time on my hands, and what sort of goals I should pursue since throwing myself into work isn't really an option just now. It's lead me to wonder what it is that dedicated creative types have that I don't. One answer that has occurred is a social infrastructure that promotes writing, drawing, etc. and I think I might have stumbled into one just now around my new radio show.

Yes, I have a radio show, Civil Politics, on Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP, 103.3 FM for those of you in western MA) every Friday at 7 PM. I'm the host, and George Claxton and Susan Timberlake are the commenters, and we talk about political issues. We're less concerned with the tribal squabbles of our two parties, and more with what politics is about: competing interests, social problems, moral values, and finding ways to get along with each other. We must have 3 or 4 listeners already! (The show is available for streaming, and we're recording them as podcasts, which are online at civilpolitics.wordpress.com) I quite like doing the show, and I think it's an important set of discussions to have, one that more widely known media don't actually do. I have yet to listen to any of them again, but I will do, because I want to get better at it.
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: (strangelove)

This is something I have been mulling over for... jeez, more than a year! (I guess I have fallen off the LJ wagon.) Since I heard about themurder of Trayvon Martin, and especially since Zimmerman's acquital. It's been on my mind especially because of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the subsequent spectacularly unjustified armed response by that city's police department, and also since I had dinner with an old friend I haven't seen in a while, down in Atlanta, who is passionately committed to permissive gun laws.*

One of the great insights that has stayed with me since my undergraduate days was a passage from Aristotle's Politics, that runs something like this: "Just as a human hand is no longer a human hand once severed from the body, so too a person on their own is either a beast or a god." In a society that prizes individualism as much as ours, 18 year old me found it mind-blowing to consider that the full human experience demands living with other people. No matter how minimal or informal a society's legal customs, no matter how small the population with which one lives, we NEED other people.

(Mind you, I'm still a firm believer in the great American insight, that we are all unique individuals and that we all matter.)

Living with other people means living with the needs, opinions and concerns of one's contemporaries, and also with those of one's ancestors (which have probably become distilled into customs, rituals, folkways, songs, vocabulary, and so on and on). Also, because humans take so long to mature, and because our brains are so plastic, we depend on the context created by our societies to fully develop. I believe that those two truths together mean that there are many ways for us all to live together, and many ways to strike a balance between our need to be part of a group, and our need to be ourselves.

The tension between individual liberty and group needs must be a very old one for our species, but it's definitely been around since our societies became more complex, and became civilizations. The oldest story I know, the Epic of Gilgamesh, starts with low status citizens protesting oppression by their king--i.e. with people in Uruk struggling to balance their individual rights against the need to fit in with their society.

Here's where the guns part comes in: as thinkers like Hobbes and Locke have pointed out, one basic reason to put up with a society is that it helps protect its members from violence--from strangers and from the people one lives with. In a civilization, (i.e. in a more complex society with lots of strangers close by) the laws that restrict one's actions should also keep one safe. This is true in my case. I have walked the streets at night in every place I have ever lived, and never feared for my safety, and nothing bad has yet happened to me. (Obviously, that could change tomorrow, but I think 44 years is still a pretty good track record, even so.)

Let me emphasize this: I don't carry a gun or other dedicated weapon, nor do I even own one, though I easily could do. In all my life, I have never faced danger in my home, or outside it. I have had very few interactions with the police, and in none of them have I had any problems, or faced any danger that I could detect. On the two occasions that I have called them to my home (for false alarms), they were polite and helpful and prompt. I thus conclude that the civilization in which I live does a satisfactory job of protecting me.

In contrast, this same civilization clearly failed to protect Trayvon and James. Both were unarmed teenagers, shot by armed adults who confronted them. That's horrible enough, but it gets worse, because how we collectively respond to crimes when they happen matters just as much as what we do to prevent them. Misunderstandings and mistakes (whether good- or ill-intentioned) can happen in any human interaction, so I think that the mere fact of these two killings does not, ipso facto, mean that our society has a problem. The true depths of our disfunction emerge in what happened after the shootings: Neither George Zimmerman nor Darren Wilson apologized for making a horrible blunder. The police did not respond with a speedy investigation. A month afterwards, neither man had been arrested. It took at least a week for most news to cover the killings, or for many people outside the black community, to take up the subject of either killing.

Altogether, I believe that makes it clear that, as a nation, we don't take these crimes as seriously as we should, and that we aren't affording dark-skinned citizens the same protections that I enjoy. Which is another way of saying that black Americans don't live in a civilization. I don't need to tote a gun around to protect myself, but clearly Trayvon and James did. The expectations of safety and protection that I have are a privilege that I enjoy, in part because of my pale skin. People of color in the USA live in conditions more akin to pre-modern Europe, where Vikings might suddenly show up for kidnapping and murder. This is why a large chunk of white America doesn't appreciate the problems facing non-white America, because judging people who don't live in safety by the same standards as people who do is foolish, and morally backwards.

I don't think this double standard can last, so I'd really like for us to create safety for everyone else before my racially privileged upper class winds up losing this really great benefit. (I will leave it to smarter people to figure out whether white and non-white Americans live in the same society, as distinct from the same civilization. In my mind, all civilizations are societies, but not all societies are civilizations.)

*That particular issue is tangential to this post, but FWIW, I am sympathetic to the arguments that gun ownership helps preserve our liberties, and can indeed be life-saving tools of self-defense, but I get very nervous when people who carry convenient murders in their pockets are belligerent and irrational. It's something I hope to think and discuss in more depth on my in-the-works political chat show on Valley Free Radio, planned for mid-October.

grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I'm in Boston for the weekend, working at PAX East.  We plan to sell games, mostly RPGs, to the 20,000 or so nerds who are here for it.  Most have come for the video game stuff, but we hope to snag some spillover cross interest, and maybe get some new customers at our stores.

In other news, the past week saw me working out in New York, helping out in our Mamaroneck store, and working last weekend at the brand new Maelstrom gaming con in New Jersey. It's been strangely tiring, but I did have a nice day off to celebrate my birthday on Monday.  I got to see a dear friend (about whom I shan't say more, as they are very private), but they got me amazing cupcakes in New York city.  Thanks to usakeh for hosting me, and for the Orphan Black DVD.  Looking forward to checking it out.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I was summoned for jury duty today, which necessitated getting up about 90 minutes before my alarm normally goes off in the morning.  The one trial in the offing was a criminal case, and the defendant faced a slew of charges, one of which was dissemination of harmful material to a minor.  When I was asked if there was any reason why I wouldn't be able to serve impartially on the jury, I explained that I didn't see how showing someone art would merit sending them to jail.  If no one went to prison for showing kids Passion Of The Christ (and no one should), then no one should go to prison for showing another person porn .  The judge asked if I could follow the law, regardless of my beliefs, and said that I could not.  He then excused me.

i had not expected jury duty to play out like that.  While the timing would have been inconvenient, and the case sounded depressing, I was ready and willing to serve.  The rest of the charge are quite serious, and the case will, I'm sure, require jurors like me.  But, if the prosecution's other charges all fell apart, there was no way I was going to convict someone solely for smutty pictures.
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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.  :) 


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Back in Andover for the weekend.  I was going to a friend's wedding this weekend, but instead I'm here.  My mom has had some back pain for about 10 days, and it got worse, and her doctor is a useless git, and now she's at Lawrence General, where the did a kyphoplasty.  Yes, rather than try anything less extreme than surgery, they decided to deal with mom's compressed spinal disks by fusing her T12 and L1 vertebrae together.

Looks like we need to arrange for some in-home care, and I need to get on the stick with the insurance company. 


I'm off to see her now.  Cross your fingers that this will improve things, folks.

EDIT: it turns out that Mom's problem was more serious than simple irritation of her discs, but rather a compression fraction of her lowest thoracic vertebra.  Thus, the spinal fusion was the correct decision.  Yes, this does mean we have also discovered that she has osteoporosis.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)

I worked late today, and after work I stopped by M's place to divvy up the farm share. Wound up having some dinner, and then joining her for a trip to Popcorn Noir for Zack Snyder's 300. I cannot recall having ever seen a worse movie.

The visual effects were OK in places (well composed, so stylized that they weren't interesting), some of the photography and cinematography were aesthetically striking, but otherwise it was just bad. I didn't hate the film, because that would have required it to evoke an emotional response beyond mild boredom and disdain, but it's an embarrassment that should never have been filmed (or, failing that, released).

Not to mention that it was obviously racist, sexist, and homophobic, filled with ridiculous decisions, a pretentious and unnecessary narrator, logical inconsistencies, question begging, and fundamental historical inaccuracies that completely subvert the crapulously earnest speeches all the Greeks make.

Mind you, the many slashy scenes were so incredibly over the top that it's the closest I've ever seen gay subtext come to being text without quite making it. It should have just been a gay porno.

Oh, and I couldn't but compare it Tarantino's Kill Bill, which I disliked intensely because it seemed to have little point beyond reveling in violence and bloodshed. Say whatever else you wish about Quentin Tarantino: he made a film I didn't like because it was basically an excuse to watch Uma Thurman flight and mutilate folks. 300 should have been the same, but mostly I just didn't care about anyone on screen. So, meh.


Oh, and tomorrow evening the store is celebrating it's tenth anniversary. I hope you'll all stop by and join us.

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The human explorer with the most unique claim to fame ever has died.  The torch he lit for our species has been dropped by us all, my generation in particular.  I hope we go to the moon again one day.


His official NASA obituary )
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Here's an article from the New York Times, summing up what the scientific press has been reporting for years, that the extreme water shortages of the past decade should not be seen as a drought, or as below average.  They are, rather, the new normal, and this only the beginning of how bad it's going to get for our world.  Our society's only hope is some crazy mad science.  Write your congressman.

Seriously.
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NYT article on negative consequences of placebo effect.  I'm especially intrigued by how much negative side effects increased depending on the level of information given.
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So, my former governor has picked Paul Ryan as his Vice-Presidential candidate.  He's gone from touting his business experience to touting his executive branch experience (but not his signal achievement as governor, namely reforming health care) to attacking the president's lack of success in overcoming Republican opposition to fixing the systemic problems in our national economy, to picking a guy who A) has no business experience, B) has served in Congress, but never in the executive branch, and C) is best known for a plan that will impoverish the nation if implemented.

Seriously, Saruman, you do realize that you only get to keep the Ring for at most 8 years, right?
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The local news did a puff piece on the opening of Dark Knight Rises, and came to my store and talked to me.  They used a few seconds of me saying obvious stuff about Batman.  My impressions are: 1) is that really my voice?  and 2) ugh, the camera really does add 10 pounds. :(

Plus, Mike Lacrosse got the name of my store wrong. 

Anyway, here it is.
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Tonight I'm at my parents' house in Andover. Because of the nor'easter that hit last Saturday, kids are out trick or treating now. I'm lounging in the guest room, listening to the door bell. Shortly, I shall head over to Cambridge to celebrate the Feast of Rhotus at the shrine of St. Whatserface. The Pope, the Popess, the Team Captain, and others should be there, too.

Power was out here from Saturday night until Wednesday night. Mom and Dave spent the first night freezing here in the house, and then went to a hotel. Dad collapsed on Sunday evening when they went out to dinner, and was taken to the Lahey Clinic. While the cause isn't clear, Dad apparently has orthostatic hypotension, and he is thus prone to falls, blackouts, fainting spells, and more. He slips in and out of lucidity, and this is only making his failing memory worse.

Dad doesn't grasp the full extent of his condition, in part because he doesn't want to, and in part because he can't recall recent events well enough to make sense of things. It's emotionally challenging to talk to him, because he wants to come home, but Mom and Dave can't deal with his current level of illness, and don't want the stress of waiting on him hand and foot.

We're thus starting to explore options about home nursing care, assisted living facilities, and so forth. At least I have managed to smooth out a few things for Mom and Dave, and talk the staff the at the rehab hospital in Salem (where Dad is now) to give him a private room.

I am really fortunate that I was able to just leave work for a week to come here and help out. Mike G and the rest of the staff have covered for me, and I haven't had to think twice about it. Working for Mike has been fun, challenging, and very low stress. I'm very lucky.

Feisty is taking new medicine, which is apparently helping, though we may still need to take her for expensive tests, etc.

In frivolous news, I quite like the show Castle.
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This weekend, my store is celebrating its ninth anniversary, starting with a party on at 6 pm Friday 9/9. There will be pizza, cupcakes, beverages, and prizes. It will be fun.

On the 10th, we're having a Magic mini-tournament, and hosting a D&D Lair Assault, and having our usual miniatures painting and board game nights.

On Sunday the 11th, from 1-3 PM, R. A. Salvatore will be in the store signing books. Come join us, and shut out talking heads who have learned nothing from the past decade.
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Or, in my case, not so much.

Hurricane Irene, which did enormous damage in the Caribbean, was barely a tropical storm by the time it got to my house.  Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, even nearby towns in Massachusetts, have all had dangerous floods.  Fortunately for me personally, my house is near the top of a hill with excellent drainage, so I'm basically OK.  M and I got some groceries and extra batteries, and spent a few hours making food that we could have if we lost power for a while. 

And we did lose power at about 9 AM. 

It was back on before 10 AM, and we haven't had any problems since.  For us, it was just a cloudy, blustery, rainy summer's day.  It cleared up after  4 PM, and we went for a walk.


Some more general stuff about me and my life:

1) I hemmed and hawed from March to July about my job. On the one hand, I have a job that's reasonably fun, at which I'm reasonably good (and experienced) and which has several attractive perks (wholesale cost graphic novels and games, running D&D games professionally, serious nerd cred, lots of time around things I love), but which pays poorly.  On the other, I love teaching, almost any teaching job would pay at least 40% more (and could easily reach 100%), and teaching has a social cachet that retail store clerk does not.  However, searching for a teaching job requires the same mental and emotional resources as research did in grad school, and that's hard for me.  Plus, this is a bad job market.

After careful reflection, I decided to ask for a raise at Modern Myths, and to stay if i got it.  After some awkward negotiations (salary negotiations require a somewhat different approach from home purchasing negotiations), I got a raise that met my minimum requirements.  After a month of the new regime, I am pleased with my choice.  I have found MG a pleasure to work with/for, I'm getting more free weekends (and more latitude in my hours in other ways), I'm finding the new mix of responsibility and autonomy energizing, and the opportunities for personal and professional growth open at the store right now (as JC starts up a store in New York) must be seized now or not at all.  Everything that's appealing about teaching will still be there in, say, two years (assuming society doesn't implode).

2) Millari and I continue to share the house we bought together.  We continue to be best of friends, and good housemates.  She was away for about a month this summer, visiting her girl in Germany, and I found living alone to be difficult at times (especially when I got sick), but also to have its attractions.  The biggest surprise for me has been that I would often prefer to go home and watch TV alone, rather than go out and see people.  I don't know if that's a genuine personality trait (given my father & brother's dispositions, it might be), or if that was an effect of depression.

Anyway, now that M is home, we have begun to discuss the painful subject of furthering our separation.  I know that it's something that I need to do, but right now it's difficult.  I'm not dating anyone yet, so I have a very comfortable home life with a beloved family member on the plus side, and no real drawbacks.  It's different for M, because she's got a girl (who is actually pretty cool), so she's got an emotional stone in her shoe to prompt her to make changes.

I have, for now at least, made a firm professional commitment, which has in turn reinforced my sense of identity.  I am loathe to undo the other mainstay of my sense of self (and, really, the best decision I think I have made heretofore in my life), but I know from experience that if I don't keep moving on this, I'll regret it later.  I just hope that I don't have to let things turn into an ugly confrontation in order to proceed, as I have seen that happen to others.  (in particular to Fran, a woman I have known since college, who used to have a lovely relationship with the woman she married, but which has curdled, to say the least.)  I would find it deeply painful if my friends found it necessary to pick sides.

3) My parents continue in declining health.  I visited on Friday and Saturday, and in addition to helping my brother make (as it turned out, unnecessary) preparations for the storm, I gave my dad a short test I found in a book M gave me about living with and caring for people with Alzheimer's.  The idea of the test is that, if the person does well, they most likely don't have it, and if they do poorly, they might.  Dad did poorly on one element (naming as many animals as he could in a minute--he got 10), but had no trouble remembering the month, day, date, year, who is and who was president; telling time on a clock face; and little trouble remembering four images of common objects that I showed him (which is fine, since he is 82).  So, it's possible he doesn't have Alzheimer's, which is great.  Except that I have no idea what the hell is wrong, or what to do about it, if he doesn't.  My loins, I must gird them.
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I have started and not finished several posts in my head over the past month, and not managed to post anything. I'd like to post about a bunch of things, but I'm going to at least get big news out of the way with this short message.

For the past five years (!) I have been working full-time at Modern Myths, serving as assistant manager for the founder/managing partner Jim Crocker. At the end of the summer, Jim is moving to New York, ultimately planning to open a second store in the vicinity of Tarrytown. This would be the logical time for me to step up and take over the Northampton store. And now that the moment is here, I don't want to.

So, much as I fear tackling unfamiliar tasks (and I have never done a cold job search before), I am looking for a teaching job. There's a lot to do, and I find it easy to stall out, but I have updated my resume, and I'm creating profiles on job sites, and so forth. I'm going to do something from my to do list every day. If I can't find a job by the end of July, I'm going to stick around at the store for another year.

(We have hired back a former part-time employee who has extensive retail store management experience to take over as the Northampton manager. I like him and I'll be pleased to work with him. Honestly, I have to keep reminding myself I'm in a good situation: I can either stay at a job that I like, that pays not well but enough, and be part of some exciting transitions and start-up of the new site; or I can get a teaching job and get 20-60% pay raise. This should be making me feel better than it does. I'll stare at my navel about why that might be next time. Should be must-read blogging.)
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 Last week, I went to bed one night (Monday?), quite tired but a little wired, and decided to read a bit.  I picked up a book that Mom had recommended, and since her last two recs were Eragon and Twilight, I figured I'd get bored soon and fall asleep.  The book was The Hunger Games, and I was instead up until 6 am because I could not put it down.  There are apparently two more.  If you liked Battle Royale or the Running Man, or wished you did but would prefer something less completely bleak, this is the book for you.  (Don't worry, terrible things still happen to nice people.)

My parents are both now prone to falling, and my dad is forgetting M's name.  It's depressing.  I hope that my brother is bearing up under the load.  I hope he asks me for help when he needs it. I hope I can come through for him when he does.

I am adjusting to life in my own personal space, and I'm finding it's actually satisfying to have things all my own way, and I'm much better at keeping myself organized, and exercising every day.  (Oh, and I'm actually starting to get the hang of swinging a maul and splitting firewood.
) I'm still working on making a place for everything, so that everything can be in its place, but I'm actually working on it, and not just saying that I am.  The next big molehill to flatten before it becomes a mountain: installing a clothes bar in my new closet.  I'm not a handy person, really, but I think I can do this.  I have the pieces and tools.  I just need to do it. 

Resolution: do it tomorrow morning.  At least put in the brackets, and measure, so I know how long the bar needs to be.

And I finally got a big pile of gifts (some of which I have had for years) mailed off.  (Well, one remains, but I just need a current address and the silly little casual gift I got can be sent at last.  [eye roll])

Several of my friends are in dark places emotionally right now.  I hope each of you comes through it soon to happier days.  Please ask if I can help.

OK, now I have to go to my staff meeting.


EDIT: Mom insists that she never recommended Twilight to me, nor does she think it's all that great, she merely told me that she was enjoying it.  "I deserve my guilty pleasures, you know."

Eragon is still all on her, though. :)

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