Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why do kitties have to die? II

I want my buddy back. I know I can't--I know he's not coming back. But it's still hard to, not just know it, but feel it without my chest imploding like a dying star. My buddy is gone. My bigguy is gone. And I miss him.

At the end of this post, I'll include the poem (the dirge?) I wrote and read to him before the vet came in with the needles; before I held him for one last, infinite snuggle; exactly as in the poem--held against my heart as his stopped beating; as he left me, forever.

Goodbye 2015, goodbye Marcel.

I had Marcel for almost 16yrs; over half my life. He's been my companion, my little buddy, my bigguy for so's hard to think of him not being there, somewhere, either curled up like a dozey little dork or out claiming his territory with a genially imperious posture. But what I came home to today: A home without Marcel, a life without Marcel.
Marcel prefers to read for me.
I am so grateful for every moment I had with him. Every snuggle, every squawk, every silly thing he did. And while it's hard missing him, I'm glad to have had him in my life. As I let myself have a good, lon sob before writing this, I thanked him for every good memory I was blessed to have with him.

This morning, after much ado finding a hospital that could take him on short notice, we took him in. Around noon, I held him in my arms as he passed, my tears streaming, throat seizing, as I said my goodbyes.y mother and good friend Parker, both of whom shared intimate, vivid memories with this most remarkable feline, were there to help me through it. Afterwards we went to IHOP then cleaned all his kitty things to store them in the basement. I couldn't have gotten through any of it without their help. It was hard enough hearing the vet tell me; it was even harder saying goodbye and clearing away the evidences of his life.

But he is gone now. His chapter in my life is over. I know I did the right thing--sparing him the discomfort, the pain, the bitter end of clinging too hard for too long against the inevitable passing on. I let that happen to Cali, and it was awful. I couldn't let that happen to Marcel, no matter how badly I wanted to hold on to him. It was time to let him go, and it was right. I kept his collar; it's currently resting in my pocket--a little, familiar, barely tolerable jingle when I move about.

Now comes the hard part: The missing. Those hard moments when I think I see him out of the corner of my eye, only to remember half a moment later. Those usual habits and expectations--seeing his food bowl and mat gone, no longer having to navigate past his litter box. Never seeing him curled up on my bed and never again my heart warming on seeing it. No more squawks or snuggles or silly things. No more bigguy; no more Marcel.

A couple months ago, things changed. He wasn't eating right; he wasn't coming up for snuggles; he was throwing up now and then. I realized he was losing weight fast, so I added wet food to his diet; he ate it voraciously, and gained back some weight. But things only improved marginally, and not for long. Although he was eating, soon he was pooping and urinating outside his box. I changed the litter box set up to some effect; it helped but didnt fix it. He wasn't moving well; he'd confine himself to small areas--an armchair, a door mat, a corner of the kitchen, the porch.

This was not my Marcel.
This, on the other hand, is my Marcel.
Last night I took him to the vet. I hoped, as the vet and I had pondered on another occasion, it was just kidney failure ("just"!); treatable if badly inconvenient for all involved. It took the intern one second to notice the tautness of his belly; the vet one minute to find the masses. He spared me a scare, just in case, and excused himself and Marcel to take a closer look on the ultrasound. A few minutes later, he brought me over to see the ultrasound.

It wasn't good.

Marcel was always a trooper. Calm and stoical, he ruled the neighborhood--overpowering other cats with a long, hard, but nonchalant stare. He knew who he was. If he wasn't staring down other cats, he was sleeping on top of people's cars, carefree and comfortable. If he wasn't sleeping, he was hunting; he was a beast at that: My mom tells a tale of his hauling a baby rabbit around with no trouble; he once brought me a squirrel.
A wild Marcel appears!
He was always eager to befriend anyone--without being insistent or fussy. Casual; cool. One friend remarked how unreserved and how unhesitant he was--Marcel did not understand shyness when it came to people, really. He was so unassuming and friendly that even avowed cat-haters could make some slight exception for Marcel. He was a charming devil, and he loved every moment of it.

He'd sometimes come running if he saw me or walk me home at a amiable gait. He'd follow me upstairs and jump on the bed for a scratch behind the ears; and who could say no, regardless of their hurry?

He couldn't meow. Sure, occasionally he could get out some lower tone if he tried, but 9 times out of 10 all he managed was a pinched off kind of squawk. He had a dot on each cheek. He remind us of a mime, of Marcel Marceau. So that's what we called him.

A month or so ago, he stopped even coming upstairs. If he went out, more and more he'd just curl up on the porch. This cat, Marcel, the king of snuggle buddies, wasn't snuggling any more.

And then last night I knew why--then I saw why. There on the ultrasound screen, plain as day, were one or two, maybe even three, huge masses. They were already taking up a third of his abdomen, but the vet estimated from their coarseness they'd only begun developing between 6 and 8 weeks ago. They were too extensive and aggressive to remove and unlikely to respond to treatment. Marcel had maybe a week or two before they seriously impeded his organs. At best, he wouldn't even be with us a month from now.
On a different visit to the vet.
And you know something? All the while we're having this conversation over him, he's stretched out on this long u-shaped bed, back feet hanging off lazily, two nurses/interns attending him behind his ears and chin (his favorite spots next to his chest, which also got some love), half-dozing contentedly. No restraints, no fuss. Just chilling.

That's Marcel for you. Even as the vet informs me the dire prognosis; even as these malignancies were killing him from the inside out; even as I choke back tears, choke on the words, "So what do we do know?", knowing too, too well the answer; there he was, having a casually grand time.

That was my Marcel. And, goddamnit, I miss him.

Here is the poem I worked on the same morning. It was tough at first finding what to say to him that would encapsulate everything he meant to me. I wrote a similar poem (and a similar post) for another cat we put down, Cali. As anticipated, I could get through the whole thing--too many tears, too little breath, among the sobs. I've italicized the omitted portions..

more or less as read to him before he was euthanized in my arms

Hey there, buddy,
Hey there, sweet pea.
I want you to know
You’ve been a great guy, the best guy,
—You’re my guy, my bigguy.
It’s been so long
—Over half my life
And all of yours—
And now it’s come to this.
But those clichés mean next to nothing
Too many particulars about you
To ever capture you with a cliché.
You’re my one of a kind guy
—You’re my guy, my bigguy.

I remember when I could hold you in my hand,
And you’d knead the air
Like you were trying to swim.
I remember how we named you:
With a dot on each cheek,
You reminded us of a mime;
You could only ever squawk, never meow
—Mute, like a mime.
So we called you Marcel.
I remember when you brought me a squirrel
(How the fuck did you even catch a squirrel?)
I remember how you’d sleep
Sometimes curled up like a diver
With your back legs pulled up against your face.
I remember how you could (and would)
Make a friend out of anyone
As soon as you met them,
No wariness or hesitation
—How even cat haters could make an exception.
I remember how sometimes you’d see me
And come running
Or casually walk me home.
I remember how you’d do things
So perfectly cute, always sweet but often dorky,
I’d imagine you’d planned them,
Rehearsed them,
For maximum endearment.
And it worked. It always worked.
You had me then,
You had me always.

I remember that first time
I realized you really were irreplaceable.
I lay on my side in bed after a breakup,
And you gave me one half-long look,
One look, exactly a beat long,
Before rolling onto your side into my chest.
I remember wrapping my hand
Under you to pull you close
And you didn’t fight
And you didn’t pull away
But closed your eyes and purred
And we half-dozed like that, spooning
In the sun filtered through sycamore leaves
Dappled in the warm fluid light and life,
And we lay there.
And I knew you’d always be there,
You’d always be my guy, my bigguy.

And how many times since
Have we spooned like that
When I needed you most,
You were there, either with me
As I fell asleep
But though I need you now,
I know, I know: I know that you must go.
I know this will be our last snuggle.

No more will you snuggle me to sleep,
Or as I read a book, or with some strange friend,
No more will I know you’re there, somewhere,
Good for a snuggle, good for a friend.
No more will you sit there, genially imperious,
Among a group of people busily chatting
And though they weren’t petting you
You’d close your eyes and listen,
happy to be around people.
No more will you be there,
But you will always be my bigguy.

And I thank you for the memories
I thank you for helping me get here
For helping me get through this.
But I know it’s your time,
And I know it’s time to let go.
I’ll always love my bigguy,
My big, sweet, silly guy.
Goodbye, bigguy.
I love you.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

UnMereology: A bit before homeworking.

Isn't it great when you find out the name of some odd idea you put together but couldn't quite explain? no? maybe? Ok.

Well, I discovered the names of some of the philosophical positions I've taken of late and have been working from in developing the theories I've been putting together. Last time I mentioned how I'd given up on needing free will and such; this came from my assuming determinism is true. I talk more about that another day as I already knew what that was called.

One of the positions I found out about the other day is existential nihilism. This idea derives from, if roughly, from the existential premise that there are no essential properties, that existence precedes essence and such. It basically says there is no meaning. I had mostly figured that that part of the positions I'm working from was related to existentialism, so I won't talk much about that today, but it is important. Possibly.

The term that was new was mereological nihilism. This is a bit odd and then super obvious (to me at least, but then I'm crazy?). Basically, there are no proper parts of anything and no proper wholes of anything, just fundamental bits arranged in such a way and called a certain thing (though that name or thing we call it is not identical to the actual arrangement of fundamental bits). So basically, although the atoms in a table are arranged in a table-wise fashion, they do not, even as a whole, become a table; that is, they do not become some singular, whole table object thing. They remain individual atoms arranged like a thing we call tables.

I was moved to this position largely under the influence of the video I posted below. Veritasium is an excellent channel for science and awesomeness; here, he explains where our mass comes from. But to do so, he posits a very nice explanation of quantum chromodynamics.

Watching this video made me more seriously aware of something of which most of us are generally aware: All things are made of stuff; but this stuff is made of bits. Obviously enough. But these bits are blind to the stuff they're in; due to their properties, they impart the stuff they're in with certain physical properties and such, but they don't do so "knowingly." That is, an up quark is an up quark is an up quark; this up quark does not become "up quark, type table" when it is a part of a table, any more than it is "up quark, type Chris" when it's part of me (I guess I ate the table?). It's just an up quark, or what have you.

And that is it. That is matter. That is the universe. It is just particles quivering in a gluon void; we are just particles quivering in a gluon void. They happen to be in our shape and allow properties like our mass and such, and emergent properties have arisen such as our consciousness, whatever that may be, but that is it. That is all.

(Of course, there is much yet to be understood about our universe, but I strongly doubt that suddenly we'll find quarks becoming table-quarks in tables or some such, and even if something like dark-quarks happen to quarks in dark matter (assuming dark matter has quarks) it doesn't change much.)

Without knowing quite so much of the particulars about these two nihilisms, I've been using mereological nihilism as a proof for existential nihilism.

Basically, there is nothing in a so-called table that makes it a table; there are not a special subset of table-quarks or table-particles that, in themselves, impart some essential quality of tableness. Sure, some of the simpler properties come from those quarks; the hardness of the table, for example, comes from the molecules formed from the atoms formed from quarks, and through these interactions allows the hardness we observe. But this hardness is no different than if we'd used the wood instead to make a chair or a desk or a floor for a room. It is not table-hardness, it's just (wood)hardness.

There are a couple of goals and ideas I have in developing the theory I'm seeking. Some of which I'm probably gonna forget to mention or end up butchering in this list as I'm kinda winging it without coffee this morning.

  1. I realize quantum chromodynamics is a theory and not the only one, either. In fact, one of my subgoals is to avoid quantum woo and such, so I'm glad I've been able to side-step the actual-actual-actual specifics as I feel like that would probably lead me woofully off track. Rather, I imagine and assume that whatever the actual nature of subatomic particles is, whatever theory best describes them someday, there will still be a lack of intrinsic properties of the whole inherent in the particles themselves. So that even if it's all string theory or some such, I'm assuming there are not table-strings vs chris-strings, but just strings doing their do in tables as they would do in Chrises. That is, whatever the nature of subatomic particles and atoms may be, they're still as blind and indifferent to the whole they are a part of as I've argued above.
  2. I don't mind if the theory I develop ends up defining a world that, ultimately, is quite similar to the one we're in, just that there is some acknowledgment of the reality of things, of the absurdity and fictions. Maybe I'll go more rogue about it later, but for now I think I'd be okay with that consequence as long as the theory works (though preferably not because it surreptitiously tries to use that resemblance as a crutch...). For example, if I describe how we create the meanings of things, this theory doesn't mean those meanings aren't significant, at least not for us; they're obviously significant for us or we probably wouldn't have bothered devising them. However, in acknowledging the existential nihilism and such forth, the significance we attribute may need humbling. I've always thought we take ourselves and what we do way too seriously, and this theory or it's premises allow a good explanation of why we should turnd down from time to time.
  3. As I mentioned, I haven't talked much about my position on determinism (very, very hard/strong) or other supports I use for existential nihilism, but they come together in a way that makes things like (moral) responsibility and significance very hard to establish in the usual sense. I'm trying to find at least some way we can have these things, or at least a concept of these things, that is largely compatible with the nihilismz and other views I've been mulling over and hold true. This is part of why, naturally, I'm okay with the consequences of my theory resembling the way we currently look at the world.
  4. One odd detail I'm noticing, is the theory I'm developing doesn't necessarily require mereological nihilism or existential nihilism to work. This is actually pretty awesome because then if mereological or existential nihilism or the sciences I've been talking about end up somehow disproved someday, or alternative systems of responsibility and such win out, my theory still works. Kind of a pascal's wager of sorts, I guess?
  5. I'll get into the details another time, but essentially I'm using 'reactive attitude theories' to deal with the problems determinism poses for (moral) responsibility; my theory basically posits that if, by determinism, there is only causal responsibility, we can characterize and understand even that responsibility in a way that allows things to be adequately fit subjects for reactive attitudes (eg, resentment, praise, blame, anger, etc). I'm still workshopping terms here (it was so convenient finding out 'mereology' was already a word, even if people seem to arrive at or argue mereological nihilism differently than I have...?). For now I'm using functional causal responsibility and agentive causal responsibility; I'm imagining them existing on a continuum, allowing flexibility and distinguishing in awkward or different circumstances and also reflecting different degrees of fittness for reactive attitudes. Functional causal responsibility is much like typical causal responsibility (that is, if I move a stone with a stick, the stick is (functionally) causally responsible for the stone's movement), whereas the degree something can be a fit subject for reactive attitudes regarding some action has to have at least an equivalent degree of agentive causal responsibility for that action (in moving the stone, I am an agent). 
  6. This relationship conforms to everyday experience. At least sometimes. I'll continue workshopping the whole thing but let's go back to the stick and me. If, instead of a stone, I'm using the stick to move a cake you spent hours making, and I move it off the counter, and it goes splat, you will probably be mad at me and not the stick (or, at least, madder at me than at the stick). Being mad at me is a reactive attitude, one you direct at me because of my agentive causal responsibility in pushing the the cake off the counter and one you do not direct at the stick because it lacks the same kind of causal responsibility (it is merely "functioning" in this causal chain).
  7. This post has gone on forever, and I still don't have coffee. My theory should involve more coffee.
  8. A new development in my theory (as of last night at work) takes into account a sort of regress of causes in determinism; I'll discuss this all another time, but essentially i'm taking as causally responsible all causes in the chain, however, the proportions of agentive causal responsibility vary throughout that chain (with the vast majority of causes, such as those occurring billions of years ago, accounting even in sum for little to none of the agentive causation) and these distributions of agentive causal responsibility allow distribution of blame/praise/gratitude/etc. I'm really quite excited about this one.
  9. At another time I'll explain how we are agents and what's special about them (not much is special about them, really, but there's enough that is...). One important thing to know now, though, is my aversion to any association with agent causation; in fact that's why I'm so insistently using agentive causation instead. I want nothing to do what uncaused-cause nonsense. (For those unfamiliar, it's a version of indeterminism used in some philosophically libertarian descriptions of free will that allows an agent to (somehow?) cause their own actions, and thus have free will and be responsible and such forth.)
  10. I got nothing.
So I'll end it there. As the post title suggests, I have homework to do. I also have coffee to make. Mmm.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Things I Have Been Thinking. (A Convoluted Prelude?)

Majoring in philosophy was probably among the smartest things I've done. That being said, it's had some odd consequences. It may even have a bit of a dark side lurking about...

One reason it's an obvious fit is my abundant intellectual curiosity and inquisitiveness as well as the happily pondering nature of my daydreamy side. Philosophy has proven not only a great foundation for my not infrequent thought sprees but, I hope, invaluable training for critical thinking and all that stuff. You know, interrogating the issue, unpacking the term, and all that gibberish. Turns out to be useful stuff some of the time.

Something I've discovered, though, is an almost sadomasochistic streak in my philosophical method. It seems almost cartesian* at times. Basically, I'll start with a thought, perhaps with some reflection on something I've learned or been learning about or overheard or read or whatever and stuff; then I'll start pressing it...following its implications and possibilities to the most mentally uncomfortable places I can...and then push it further...and further....

I describe it as somewhat cartesian in my willingness to let go of what I find untenable or unnecessary as I probe possibilities. It will probably sound rather dumb and sophistic; maybe even hoity-toity, which I certainly don't mean it to be. But here's an example of somethin I've been thinking about

So I've completely abandoned any notion of free will or moral responsibility. In case it isn't obvious (which it might very well not be), those are two major touchstones/cornerstones in philosophical debate. There is a very, very large contingent of perfectly respectable and respected proper philosophers and thinkers from many disciplines who are politely reluctant, at the least, or vehemently opposed, at the only slightly less least, to giving up those concepts. Many major theories and even just ordinary experience requires some implicit allowance of either of them. People have legitimately debated back and forth about free will, for and against, its nature or even nonexistence, and I've kinda...dismissed it at this point.

And, no; I don't mean this as "I'm the most brilliant fuck to ever think about any of this; I'm the revolutionary all you establishment pigs have feared!" or any such bunk. I have my reasons for arriving at this position, and I didn't reach it easily or accept it happily at first.

And besides, such a intentions to be a revolutionary or have some unique super-brilliance is total foolishness, and probably the worst way to approach philosophy. Philosophy is about considering problems, entertaining possibilities, and understanding things as best and most accurately you can, not super-star douchebaggery or hipsteresque defiance.

Like, take this free will thing. Philosophers who defend it have really very good reasons for doing so; whether as a fiction (if they're cynical) or as a reality (if they're sincere) it's a big component in how we understand the world and conduct our lives, both as far as everyday experiences and philosophical ones. The same goes for moral responsibility--that we are morally responsible for our actions. Dismissing these concepts raises some very awkward problems (How can we put people in jail if they're not morally responsible for their crimes? How can we praise people if they didn't do it via free will?).

For years, I was a champion of free choices and self determination and all that; back when I was a unendurable romantic and such. But I've gotten to a point now where I can't maintain such positions; they just don't make sense. I've arrived where I've arrived not because it seemed so novel and brilliant but because I couldn't make sense of the universe any other way. Other reflections I'd undertaken just made free will incompatible. And the awkwardness of the problems in dismissing free will began to seem more like an inconvenient consequence rather than a reason in itself to retain it. Free will, and consequently moral responsibility, just don't meet the burden of proof.

And you know what? It's okay. At least, I'm okay with it. I've been trying to put together a (hopefully) simple framework for understanding things without free will, and it's not so bad. It's a bit weird, sure. Maybe super weird. Maybe untenably weird (hopefully not, though). But even at this proto-theory state, it works pretty well for me. In fact, given how nicely it's jiving with other positions I've undertaken, I'd argue it's workin' a lot better for me than free will would have if I'd clung to it.

Now, I'm hardly going to say I have the ultimate answer to everything and that you should trust me, and only me, as your savior from the old world and bringer of the new....or any of that junk. But at the least, I hope to lay out the problem as I see it and the resolutions I've been working out to make sense of them. And that it will make sense to someone else and help them parse out their understanding of things, whether it's like mine or not.

This might or might not lead to some kind of large paper or book or some such some day.

* Part of DesCartes project in his Meditations and elsewhere was stripping away all his assumptions and rebuilding them based on reason and knowledge. This may seem a bit pretentious, but a large part of philosophy in his day boiled down to hackneyed science and weird logics. Like, if you can think of the worst manner of sophistry imaginable, and then make it worse. Yeah. If DesCartes reasons for "stripping away" assumptions and stuff were in fact at all pretentious or hipstery, I think mine are more pragmatic. (I could be an ass and say "pragmatical," but I'd probably crucify myself for it.)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kind of right and wrong.

So two weeks ago, or so, I posted about returning to work from my medical leave. I had feared the worst but things turned out not at all as bad as I'd worried they'd be. So naturally I figured all was well and dandy and my worries unfounded, and transitioning back into work was going to be easy.

Well, then Saturday happened. It was rough and stressful and I felt like a useless shit. Then the rest of that weekend. Then this past weekend. Oy, intensity.

At first it was difficult as I was still adjusting back to the rhythm of the restaurant and serving and all that but was put in some tough situations all the same. For example, I got a four table section that Saturday in what we call "the back". It's essentially the farthest point from the kitchen and the journey between often presents myriad distractions and such. And before then I'd only worked four tables maybe once. So each of those would have been tough before my time off, nevermind dealing with both while still re-acclimating. I basically didn't get to one my tables their entire meal at one point, I kept being run around by the others and the rest of the restaurant. It led to sucky feelings.

But that Sunday was great; I felt like I was in the groove of things, made good money, was overall useful. Then Monday sucked. And so on. But I was getting the hang of things again and by the end of the week I was doing pretty all right again.

Then I was a dumbass. I picked up a couple shifts and turned what was going to be a fairly laid back weekend into a nightmare of exhaustion. I ended up working nearly 40 hours in three days. Nevermind working so much time in such short a span, but serving in a restaurant is tough work. You're always running around, carrying heavy crap, dealing with stressful situations. And I wasn't making it any easier on myself with the shifts I was working.

So I started off working the lunch shift on Friday. Then someone called out for dinner. I was asked if I could pick up their shift, and I agreed to do it. Cool. Except we got slammed and I only took a 15 min break to eat--and ended up not leaving until 1:30am. I was there for 15hrs straight.

Before all that went totally mad, I'd picked up a Saturday dinner shift. Although I wised up Saturday and took a proper-ish break between shifts, I still ended up being at the restaurant for about 10 to 12 hours. Then on Sunday I was a volume, meaning "come in at 1pm and stay until we don't need you anymore". I was there for 11 hours.

On Monday and Tuesday, I worked singles, and got suckered into working yesterday, too. Jesus. Today is my first real day off all week. I was able to rest some before or after these last couple shifts, but seriously. Exhausted. I made something like 600 or 700 dollars since last Friday, though. Does that count for anything?

So anyway, while work has turned out to be less daunting and impossible than I'd feared, it hasn't exactly been easy. But I think overall I'll be okay. This bit of chaos didn't kill me, so that's a good omen.

Friday, July 18, 2014

2nd day.

So today is my second day back at work. Gradually resuming responsibilities; time to be a grownup again and have a job and show up and do it.

It's a bit odd but easier than I'd expected, much easier actually. I expected to totally derp the menu or drop something or even tear myself open from the inside. Who knows what kinda crazy hijinks awaited me.

But Monday night wasn't bad at all, really. Not only did I survive the shift, but I made more mondy than I need to average in order to stay afloat financially. And that was a pretty slow night. So that was pretty excellent, dude.

Who knows, the rest of the week could totally suck, but I don't think it could suck as disastrously as I'd been fearing. And that's pretty sweet.

In the meantime, this coffee needs to kick the fuck in cuz I'm still spaced out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

There's a gap in between

So I was a dick last night and actually hadn't meant to be, for once. 

So my friend posted a video from his birthday in which his dad playfully wished him happy birthday with a little sign. Super cute, really; I frankly loved it. But in teasing about how the sign revealed my friend's age, I may have referred to his father as "dis bitch".

Read "may have" as "did".

My friend brought this faux pas to my attention with a graceful and simple and unaccusing assertiveness; realizing my bad, I immediately owned it and apologized for it in what may have been my most mature and honest apologies ever. He forgave me, and all should be well.

But I'm still very mad at myself. My head is all a jumble over this. I'm pretty angry with myself, and I'm angry for being angry with myself. I can't seem to let it go and move on. And I'm mad at myself for a bunch of reasons and in a bunch of ways. Trying to sort those out and find an honest, sober appraisal of it all, and maybe even learn something important from this, has proved just as frustrating.

I'll try to break down what's running through my head, maybe even sort them thematically into groups. As I said, my head is a jumble over this, so likely this post is going to read pretty rough. I feel bad, both for the particulars of this situation and for the broader implications and lessons I still need to learn.

I don't know all the details, though ultimately they're arguably irrelevant as my concern boils down to unhealthful things like people pleasing and such. I don't know if my friend's dad or family saw my comment and were outraged or offended; I don't know if I created some awkward situation for my friend; I don't know if my friend caught it and performed immediate and admirable damage control (ie, deleted the comment) before it went further. But does that really matter? I mean, as a people pleaser, I'm terrified of people not liking me or even, gasp!, being mad at me. And though these are strangers, it still worries me. A devil's advocate here might argue that as they're strangers their feelings shouldn't matter to me, but that seems rather harsh and rude.

I think that that is precisely a matter of boundaries, my great social nemesis, which is at the heart of all this anyway, I think we'll see.

I'm also worried by this because I adore this kid. I think he's a great, sweet guy, and a good friend, though I hardly see enough of him. So of course I'm worried my frustration with myself is just more people pleasing--that I feel bad less because what I did may have been wrong than that my friend may be mad at me for it. That doesn't feel terribly healthy either.

One thing that really bugs me is how obviously stupid I was and am. Who the fuck calls a stranger, nevermind their friend's father, "dis bitch"--and moreover in a comment on a family gathering/event/birthday/whatever? Like, what I said is bad enough on its own but the situation exacerbates how idiotic and rude it was. And, of course, beside the boundaries I shat on in making that comment, my guilt is itself evidently part of further issues with boundaries and other issues.

Part of me thinks all of this is silly; part of me is petrified. Part of me thinks I shouldn't feel bad at all, argues some bullshit about freedom of speech or being true to myself or some such drivel. Part of me is afraid if I'm still fouling up with boundaries like this that I'll never learn, that I'll drive away everyone I care about, that I'm too socially inconsiderate and crass to be functional. Part of me wants to be proud of how I ultimately handled it; part of me sees in this situation a microcosm of all my social failings and is profoundly disappointed. I do this a lot. I ignore obvious boundaries and social niceties, and while often it's just part of my humor--and hopefully charm--too, too often it ends up damaging friendships. And I'd really rather not do that anymore, but can't seem to stop.

I'm trying to be mature and sensible here, but it's hard enough already without it being all shifty/slidey in my head. I can't seem to get a minute of assessing any one aspect of it without my brain being distracted to another and then another, and never feeling settled about any one part of it.

Goddamnit. I'm making way too much fuss about all of this. Because of course, it isn't just about this thing with my friend and his dad. And I can't tell if I should be focusing on that more to find some resolution about it, or if concerning myself with the broader issues is in fact better for the lessons I might take away from everything, or if I should be worrying myself so much about any of it.

Grr. I think I should talk to my sponsor and some of my AA folks to get myself out of my head about this. Cuz I'm pretty stuck in there right now and it's not helping.

So this was productive. Sigh. I'm gonna go ahead and stop while I'm ahead, here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Good news, everyone!

There's a strong chance we can altogether avoid that big scary second surgery! That's the summary of my doctor's visit in Philly yesterday. I'll go back to see the oncologist guy on August 4 (though they're trying to move it up in case I do need the surgery for various harmless reasons).

There's debate about the RPLND surgery as despite its complexity and seriousness, it often turns out to be unnecessary is as many as 75 to 80% of cases. In fact, most European doctors opt for chemo instead. The general alternative is observation and surveilance; the bloodwork and cat scans I'd have to do, like, monthly for some number of years. The big worry if chemo is involved at any point instead of surgery is the possibility of chemo-resistant tumors showing up later on, necessitating that RPLND surgery afterall.

Apparently this is the better option for me. The results of bloodwork and CAT scan show pretty much zero indication of even microtumors or anything in my lymph nodes or stuff. So it's likely I'd have ended up in that 75% of people with a huge scar that actually didn't need surgery afterall if we went ahead with it.

Anyway, this oncologist I'll be seeing is one of the very best there is. His team has developed non-surgical methods for dealing with my kind of case, so I'm eager to speak with him in August (or whenever).

The important thing though: Vanity. I worry enough about having too much of a belly without getting self-conscious about a big ass scar, too. We're talking stem to stern--all the way down my tummy, it'd've been. Yikes.

Additionally, this means I can return to work. Hallelujah. Like, I did not really want to live off an allowance from my parents for the next three months. I still hope they'll help me with rent as I settle back into my job and figure out how to balance work and school in the coming months, but a spending allowance? From my parents?! What, am I 17?? Obviously, it's not that bad a thing; if I had gotten this big ass surgery it would have actually been a reasonable next step as I'd have been out of work for pretty much forever and a half. But still.

I'll be honest, though: I'm a bit let down by this news. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I'd built myself up and braced myself for this surgery and keeping a brave face crap, so that having to backpedal to normalcy seems wasteful or ignoble. Maybe I had even acquired a bit of Munchausen syndrome, begun to relish the attention and sympathy. God, I hope not. Maybe I'd started looking forward to having little to know obligations and commitments for a few months longer--no work or anything cutting up my free time. Hm, that also sounds kind of pathetic.

Well, ultimately, I am glad about this news. I think my best bet is subverting those negative feelings by focusing on the positive aspects in a reasonable manner. Despite liking to loaf and be lazy, I do enjoy work--and money--a whole helluva lot. Despite maybe liking the attention, I'd rather earn it through hard work and success than as a sick consequence of disease. And despite having to put my 'brave face' back in storage for a while, I think I've learned something through all of this about showing up for life and valuing every moment I have as something of a gift.

So now I have to go forward and be responsible. The worrier in me expects me to 'forget' about these checkup appointments I'll have to do, it expects me to take them for granted and prioritize other things first. But I think if I try to keep myself focused and make these check ups a priority from the start--putting them straight into my calendar and asking off for work as necessary right away--I can manage to keep on top of them. And then, of course, being willing to take responsibility when or if I do fuck up.

It's an aspect of humility I've become very familiar with in the past months: I am as human, as mortal, as anyone else. I'm neither more nor less special; neither any more or less a bundle of soft squishy organs sloshing around in a sack of flesh and bone. I am as susceptible to illness and being wrong and messing up as anyone else. And I have to take responsibility in my life just as much as anyone else in making every minute of it count