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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Beginnings, and other ways of being.

So today I begin my trek up to Philly. I'm going up to visit a friend in Baltimore and stay the night, then on to Philly tomorrow.

The curious thing of it is the Baltimore friend; rather, that's what's on my mind. He recently started exploring his attraction to men, so it's not surprising that he warned me that he doubts he'd be able to offer anything serious. Yes, I'm probably going to sleep with him, as if that didn't go without saying. But for now it will probably be that and friendship.

I'm pretty okay with this. I've found it's actually not that uncommon in the gay community to have good friends you sometimes sleep with or fool around with, but don't have much expectation of a relationship, at least to begin with. Yeah, it can get messy sometimes; sometimes feelings develop despite themselves. But I can say from personal experience that I've at least made out with a good number of my gay friends and remained friends after. Not that I'm a paragon of stability and good decision making and setting boundaries, but yeah.

What really fascinates me here, though, is an example how my brain works. As I often aim for with posts like this, this post really isn't him at all. It's entirely selfish, in an introspective and inquiring way. I'll do my best to keep this as anonymous as I can. I'm also not bemoaning the situation but, rather, merely musing on the inner workings of my brain, and some interesting things that have come to light. It's prompted me to wonder more than usual about what I'm looking for.

We've been friends a long time and get along great, we share a lot of core beliefs, I've always found him pretty hot, and so on. But while my brain knows and understands his reasons for not guaranteeing regular dateness or relationshipness, some part of it slips back to considering just that. And I'm not sure why.

See, I don't even know how romantically compatible we'd be. We certainly haven't fooled around or anything; for all I know, we'll have terrible chemistry in bed. Our conversations have only skimmed lifestyle matters; for all I know, we'd end up horribly impatient and frustrated with eachother for some reason or another. And it's not like Baltimore is exactly next door; it's close, sure, but still a 30 or 40 minute drive or hour and a half train ride. And yet for some reason my brain still wants to ask, even nag, "Well, why couldn't we be more than friends? why couldn't we try dating-dating?"

My point is, the situation doesn't offer a whole lot of evidence or reasons for my brain to be nagging me like this. Am I really that needy? I hope not. Regardless, what are my needs? What do I want? Am I on the hunt for a husband or will fun friends do for now? What are my intentions? What are my expectations?

These are questions I ask myself now and then anyway, but this occasion offers some different variables than the usual, I suppose. Also, of course, he's a good friend, and I don't want to mess things up with him or drag in a lot of baggage that neither of us really need.

In all honesty, I don't think that will actually be a problem. Like, for really. But I'm a worrier like that. At the same time, I'm confident I can go into this with string-slinging spinnerets disabled. I think, amusingly enough, that's because we are good friends. We can be open about all this--for fuck's sake, he brought this up yesterday not 3 months from now.

And while I don't know all the answers to those pesky questions, I do know or believe I know some or some parts of them. Like, I know I'm not actually looking-looking for a relationship. It's taken some self-discipline and training, but I've learned not to approach dates with those kinds of expectations. Instead I look to let things develop and go from there. Of course, I'd love a relationship, that'd be great stuff, but I don't make it the immediate goal when I date someone; rather I look to get to know them and see how we feel and interact and so on.

Maybe this unsubstantiated nagging--the "Well, why can't we date?"--is just an artifact of the way I used to do things, of what I've tried to unlearn. I used to feel a need for relationship, a need for something or someone to complete me; a codependent thrill when I thought I'd found it and agony when I, inevitably, lost it. I think I've come a long way since then--I no longer textbomb phones like I used to--but it's hard to say with things like this, ingrained behaviors, that they're ever truly gone.

But if that's the case, that this irreverent dissident nagging is just a remnant of how I used to carry myself, then all I need to do today and from here on is remind myself "He's my friend, and that's awesome; whatever happens, happens. Forget about those expectations and enjoy whatever comes of this. Whatever happens, happens."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Infuriation, stepwise.

Bit by bit, day by day, my big appointment draws nearer. I'm going up to Philly on Friday to see some specialists, two of the best available, and find out exactly what's coming next. Surgery? Surveillance? Chemo?

As I've said before, most likely it'll be surgery. The big scary one. With the slicing my whole belly open and lifting of organs and snipping out of a dozen little lymph nodes all nestled up against my aorta and vena cava. Yeah, that one.

From what I'm seeing, if we go that route I'll probably be off from work for as few as two or as many as three months, more likely the three. I should be okay though; as I said these are two of the best guys around.

So of course what's actually worrying me is far more...trivial. I'm trying to coordinate with my current urologist's office to send all the reports and results and other records they have for me up to the Philly guys. I'm worried things are going to be left out and we'll waste time trying to get them after the fact. They also want the specimin/slides (aka, bits of my ball) overnighted to them so they can do their own read of the cell counts. I've been struggling to get the address to my urologist's office so they can't have sent it yet. Frustrating as my appointment is in two days. Grr.

It's a big appointment. These guys are serious dudes and this is a serious matter. What they decide can affect my health and even my survival, so naturally I want them to have all the information they need to make that decision.

But there's only so much I can do. Sure, I could beat up on myself about not finding the address quicker or trying harder, but that self-criticism isn't going to change anything. I just have to keep trying my best; as long as I'm trying my best, there's nothing I can really regret or criticize. I have to put aside these little worries and focus on the big picture: In all likelihood, I'm going to be ok.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Falling into place, if a bit forcibly.

I've blogged a couple times now about my efforts to build some routines into my life. I think getting myself to do my chores and stuff will get easier when it's part of a routine versus just free floating.

It's all still a work in progress, massively so, but I'm experimenting with different setups to see what feels right. Some are just making time and space in my day to do things I would or should do normally--showering, brushing teeth, etc. Other things take me out of my usual behavior and don't have to be done--doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen, making my bed, etc.

I imagine normal people have no trouble with this stuff. But I'm both forgetful and avoidant. As soon as I'm out of bed, I'm liable to forget it all but entirely, leaving it unmade and rushing off to whatever's next. Even if I remember it or see it or think of it throughout the day, I consciously choose not to remake it. I suppose it feels tedious or distracting or something. Whatever the reason, my bed never gets made. The same fate awaits most other chores, too.

So what I've been doing is making my bed as soon as I get out of it. Then, as I'm already there and on my knees, I do my morning prayers, too. So that's two things down within 5 minutes. It's been getting done without too much trouble, and I feel doubly good about the day to boot.

Exactly what comes next, though, is still a bit in development. Possibilities include showering, etc; breakfast, etc; and blogging & writing, etc.

Today I got up, got the kettle going and a cup with the tea bag and spoon, then set about putting together my cheerios + greek yogurt + half a banana. By the time I was done eating that, the kettle was hot enough for the tea.

But I felt kinda spacey and a bit gross. So I'm tempted to try doing the shower thing first again. I think I'll try a variation, though: After I shower, I invariably do my astringent and moisturizer routine, obviously, but then lately I've followed directly with the nasal flush and brushing teeth parts. I'm thinking I'll try breaking those off until after I've eaten. For one, it frees up the bathroom for everyone else. Always a good thing. For another, it gets me out of this bloody robe sooner. I'm sweating my ball off in this thing!

All this seems tedious, I'm sure. As I've said, though, I think it's my best shot at getting these things in order and done. It gives me a solid start taking care of all these things. That's invaluable for me; a bad, unclean start can throw off everything, enabling all kinds of avoidance to crop up. Instead, I start the day on a responsible foot and go from there. Not too shabby, really.