Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A much-needed pep talk to...

...Evan. Really, buddy. I think the time has come for you and I to have a monologue, in which I do a great deal of "talking," and you "listen" carefully. Because if you don't, I will pull this lever. *Points to lever.* This will activate the various mechanisms that will inevitably launch 1,000 goats to your precise location. No longer will you be slapped with a solitary goat...you will be bombarded by a massive herd! (Insert maniacal laughter here.)

Let's start with the fact that you're a great guy, okay? No, really. You are! You don't get to create a list of people on your blog with whom you spend quality time, and then state that you're a bad person. Bad people only attract other bad people, and they tend to try to do one another in perpetually. Are the people whom you speak of literally trying to kill you regularly? If "yes," disregard this part of my message. If "no," for the love of G-d, stop beating yourself up!

Honestly, there will be plenty of people along the way throughout your life who will be more than happy to beat you up emotionally. Why, pray tell, would you want to add yourself to that list? Are you too self-confident? Feeling too good about something and feel the need to rein yourself in? I didn't think so. You have enough issues without shoving your soul through an emotional grinder. Others will come along and do that for you, so stop doing it to yourself! (That's pretty much an order, young man!)

Next, allow me to address this need you have to help others. You should stop that, too. You can't save the world. I know because I've tried, and most of the world will not appreciate your efforts, just as they didn't appreciate mine. I once passed a group of people, including a woman carry a baby, that were trying to repair a car in the Arizona heat. I paused and offered to bring them all cups of cold water, to which one of the men replied, "Keep walking, f***er." (Ah, such love in the world...It makes you want to juggle running chainsaws without so much as a moment's worth of practice.)

Those who do appreciate your aid just might take advantage of your kindness. That said, be careful what you offer. Never offer money. Not ever. The one and only time you might consider it is if you were willing to sacrifice your life to that person. Beyond that, don't lend money to a single soul, because the odds of you being paid back are slim to none.

Should you find yourself in possession of certain medications, and you know they would do little harm and a great deal of good, do NOT offer the meds to someone unless you know them VERY well. Before you know it, you will be transformed into "Evan's Pharmacy," or worse...just a drug dealer. We find it easy to hand over a pill or two, despite the warning that it's illegal to do so. In the blink of an eye, you'll find people knocking on your door, asking if you can spare just one more painkiller...or anxiety pill...or, shock of shocks, insulin. (This part of my warning may mean little to you now, but life can take us down unexpected paths.)

Instead of actually trying to be a kind of superhero, you should merely OFFER to be one. You can find just as much reward from making yourself available as you can by actually trying to help. Because just offering to help can be help unto itself. Many people don't think the world cares about them. When you make a sincere effort to put yourself at their disposal, they can often come to the realization that someone DOES care, and that's all they need at that moment.

By attempting to actually help everyone you know, you start getting caught up in a tangled skein of problems that aren't your own. Once you find yourself thoroughly caught up in their woes, you will discover you've been ignoring your own needs. And whether you wish to acknowledge them or not, you do have needs, including that sleep you've been losing because "someone might need help." Until you can present the world with a birth certificate from Krypton, stop trying to do it all.

You idolize me to an extent. I'm ultimately flattered by this. So allow me to give you the basics on how I run my life, and see if you can adopt these concepts to yours.

1: Needs before wants. You can live without a car, cable TV, video games, etc. You MUST have food, clothing, and shelter.
2: Treat others with the same respect you'd want from them. Those people whom I offered the water...? I'd said, "Excuse me. It's hot out here and I have filtered water back at my place. Would you like me to bring some out?" I dunno...Maybe the heat was making them cranky, or perhaps they wouldn't know kindness if it bit them. Whatever the case may be, I was kind and respectful. Do unto others, and all that. =)
3: Try to avoid saying or doing anything in anger. This may frustrate others, but when you start getting enraged, walk away. Go find a quiet corner of the world and cool off. Come back later, once you've calmed down, to address whatever the problem may be. My ex, Robin, used to want to pursue arguments the moment they unfolded, and I would simply walk away. It made her nuts. Still, I would come back later to DISCUSS what happened, and things usually turned out for the best. (Too bad the one-legged woman couldn't have some understanding when I became disabled, eh?)
4: Circumstances permitting, live, laugh, and love! While it's not a need, sitting down to a new DVD is enjoyable. It's even more enjoyable with friends. And it's even MORE enjoyable if it's a terrible movie, and you and your friends can critique the whole thing from start to finish, laughing hysterically the entire way through. =D
5: Take your insulin on time. Ummm...wait. That might just be for me. Ignore this one.
6: Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. This is the current state of my life, so it seems pretty dark advice. Overall, however, it's sound. As an example, Becky and I are about to start saving up to be wed a few years down the road. The plan, as we have it, will allow us to spend around $8,000 come the wedding day. That's in a perfect world. Some of that could be used for whatever arises, such as a sudden need to move, or cover the cost of medications that insurance refuses to handle.

That's all I have at this moment. I have to hobble off to take care of a few medical needs. Do try and take heed of what I've said, as I don't think you'd be such a handsome young man with a face-full of goats. =P

Be well, and DFTBA!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Behind every good man...

...is an even better woman.

Becky and I were out of town for just over 24 hours, visiting her family. A barbeque was planned for today, but with my foot being what it is, we decided to head there a day early. The original plan was that we'd get there, pay for a motel room for the night, then I'd collapse while she went off to spend some time at her mom's place.

The problem with abandoning Becky so I could stay behind is that it just seems to reminiscent of her ex, Shawn. He was a severely antisocial cretin, and it seemed too much like I'd be dismissing her so she could visit, while I avoided the whole thing. I'm perpetually attempting to seem as though I'm nothing like this particular nightmare ex of hers.

So we visited. And while we were there, we brought the gift of dirty laundry. Hey, 'Nita has a washer and dryer at her place, and we had nothing clean left to wear. It all seemed to work out when Becky and I considered it. And what future in-law doesn't love it when you come by with clothing that needs washed.

We spent plenty of time at 'Nita's house. Several hours, in fact. Alas, her dryer seems to be on its way out, and our laundry still wasn't done by the time I had to pack it in. I actually wouldn't have minded staying longer, but my schedule seems to be dictated by my right foot of late.

Back to the room we went, and...Well, I have to tell you, it was quite the fight, behaving ourselves as we did. We have to, as we don't want my foot exploding on us or anything. Still, engaging in "extracurricular activities" in a motel seems...I dunno...almost like we had to run off somewhere because what we wanted was "bad." And "bad," in this case, meant "fun." But we behaved...dangit!

Upon waking this morning, Becky went off to get our clothes while I became a human being. Give me just a little heat and a lot of humidity, and I shvitz like there's no tomorrow. The shower I took eventually seemed wasted, as I only did more sweating as the day went on.

Knowing food was coming our way, we stopped for a little snack. And then we went and bought the most wonderful thing one can have during summer in a relatively small apartment: AN AIR CONDITIONER! At last, I wouldn't have to rely on the circulation fan above the bed to cool me off. We would have cold air pumping into the main room when we got home.

Then it was off to Becky's grandfather's place for the family gathering. Like most families, Becky's is filled with its unique characters. The great thing is that they seem to accept me, and have not been comparing me to any of Becky's exes. Still, I've been making the effort to make sure there's no mistake in that regard. Where Shawn would grunt replies to questions and do as much as possible to avoid interacting with anyone in her family, I talked to everyone, including the precocious four-year-old who made what seemed an entirely too adult effort to engage me in small talk. This didn't quite work, as the world is a very simple place when one is a child. For example, her attempt at conversation led to the large CAM walker on my right foot. She asked where I got it from, and I told her that a doctor gave it to me. As though this was a present I'd received, she said, "That's nice."

There were other kids around as well, and I'm astounded some of them have lasted as long as they have. I mean, one of Becky's cousin's is 13 years old. Upon learning I was Jewish, she turned and asked excitedly, "You're Jewish?!? DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST?!?" Such a brilliant statement begged for sarcasm in return, and I laid it on thick.

This, of course, led me to telling the worst Jewish joke I know. It was meant for the adults, but I told the kids that were around us, including the genius 13-year-old, that they were not to repeat the joke under ANY circumstances. And I warned them that if they tell it, someone could take offense and there could be A LOT of trouble. What's the first thing the kid does when I'm done? Run outside to her adults who didn't hear the joke to say, "I know a funny joke that I can't tell you." This particular child...She's going to have to start all of her sentences with "Duhhh," just to be sure people are forewarned that what she's going to say is stupid.

But aside from all of the mini-adventures I experienced today, there were the few times that Becky thanked me for traveling the two hours from home to visit with family. She acted as though I'd done something extraordinary, when all I did was spend time with my fiancee and her loved ones.

And I don't think Becky gets it. I'm not sure if she ever will. She's it. I'm done searching for someone special. If this doesn't work out, I'm giving up the chase, as I'm in no shape to keep it up. She is not the first, but she is my last and best choice. And without her, I would have started becoming unglued. She's the one who's been holding me together since things with my Charcot's foot have gotten serious. She's the driving force behind my wanting to get better, and to improve whatever it is that I am. Whenever Becky and I are together, that's the place I call "home." Many have told me that I'm a good man, but Becky is the far better woman that's keeping me together, and that's a fact.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

You only get one chance to make a first impression...

..and the new pain specialist I saw today didn't make a very good one.

I'd been told to consult the doctor with the idea that maybe, just maybe, a morphine pump would be a good thing for me. Chronic pain in my hips, knees, and feet just might be exactly the right things to require such a pump. And when Becky and I were brought back to an exam room, it seemed as though this wouldn't be a bad visit. I mean, the nurse got along well with me, and handled my banter rather nicely. And when the doctor came to the room for a few brief questions, he seemed like he was a nice guy with a sense of humor.

But then he said he would be back in a few minutes, left the room, and things seemed to go awry from there.

The nurse instructed me to undress enough so that the doc could see me clearly from the knees on down. When he returned, he took one look at my right foot and said, "Oh wow." This was not the "wow" the podiatrist gave me, the latter being significantly impressed that my foot looked kind of ugly. No, the pain specialist reacted as though he'd never seen anything so horrible in all his life...and this was not a young guy.

From there, he turned into Captain Doom and Gloom. He went off on a monologue about how Medicare and Medicaid would want us to exhaust every single avenue to treatment before they'd even consider allowing me to receive a morphine pump. That's because the installation of the pump apparently costs $85,000, and the government would rather not spend that kind of money. He also said something about a psych test being required for the pump, and this had me rather concerned. With my mental health hospitalizations of the past, I was immediately concerned that I'd be disqualified based on that.

But he also had more to say, like the cocktail of pain meds I'm currently on. He said it was not only too much for me to get proper relief, but also dangerous. Gee, thanks doc. Like I didn't know that already. It's not like I wanted to be on narcotics to begin with. He said I needed to be detoxed...but that insurance wouldn't cover the rapid version thereof, but I could get it done in Connecticut for $1,000. The way he said this last part made it seem like I should head down to the docks and talk to some guy named Moe. Moe would ensure I saw the local mob doctor in the back of the fish market and get detoxed, just as long as I had the cash on hand.

As an added bonus, when I told him about the multiple nerve decompression surgery I'd had on BOTH legs, he commented that it had not only been a waste of time, but may have made my diabetic neuropathy worse. I started feeling like an idiot for agreeing to allow any of my past doctors to treat me at all. Perhaps I should have ignored all of my aches and pains until one of them killed me.

The doctor was also called away from the room several times, and this irked me. From all my experience with many, many doctors, when they walk into my room, I am the only patient receiving care in that moment. They examine; they answer questions; they care about me, and only me. This doctor acted as though he had better things to do than bother with my concerns.

After one of his returns, he went on about the risks for the pump. More doom and gloom, as I apparently risked outright death if I went for it. He offered no kindness, and DEFINITELY offered no hope whatsoever.

Oh, but we should wait and see. I mean, when I see the orthopedic surgeon on 22 June, maybe afterward we could pursue the pump. By that point, I'd had all the hope for relief washed out of me. So in response, I said, "For all I know, I won't even have a foot to bother me this much." THAT'S when he became something of an optimist. "Oh, don't think like that."

Why not? This is what's been dominating my mind since my foot went completely sour on me. I didn't need an extra dose of doom and gloom; I'd been carrying around more than enough. And I have a superstitious theory about diabetics and amputation that has me dreading the day a doctor says something has to come off. I absolutely dread the idea of amputation, and not just because I'd lose a foot I've become rather dependent on.

So there I am, lying on a stretch in the doctor's little corner of the hospital, and the tears start to come. Now that I'm good and upset, he wants to know if I'm upset and what he can do to fix it. I wanted to say, "Leave the room and don't come back this time," but instead, I told him that I'd just been hoping I'd be able to walk again. That's when he added even more joy to my life. "Oh, the pump wouldn't have guaranteed you'd be able to walk again." Thanks, doc. Do me a favor and get the hell out of the room before I beat you over the head with my CAM walker.

Once again, I'm ultimately thankful Becky was with me. She was there for me when the tears started to roll. She has an understanding of my frustrations because she sees it every day. Facing said frustrations with a doctor who acted as though I was an inconvenience for being given an idea by two different doctors was helpful in no way whatsoever. This guy put the fear of treatment in me, instead of offering me hope. This leaves me to think he should have applied to become the Grim Reaper instead of going into medicine. Becky and I came away thinking that his first impression will hopefully be his last with us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scattered thoughts

I have a wide range of things on my mind, the least of which is NOT my feet. I went to see my podiatrist today, and pointed to the second toe on my left foot, and said, "That doesn't look good, does it?" He took only a glance before declaring that I needed to get it x-rayed. That will happen tomorrow. And while I'm there, I'll be getting x-rays of my right foot as a kind of followup - make sure things aren't getting worse than they feel.

As an added bonus, the doc decided to dig into the "suspicious area" of the left foot's second toe, just to see what would come out. As we'd hoped, it was just blood. But since the entire toe appears discolored and swollen, he wants a peek inside. I like this response much better than, "Don't worry about it; it's probably nothing." I've heard this too often, and have paid a price for it, also too often.

Meanwhile, in California, our doom has been rescheduled. Harold Camping has decided that he made an error in his calculations. What occurred on the 21st was a "spiritual Rapture," and that the Apocalypse will take place rapidly, as opposed to his previous prediction of five months, on 21 October. When I read this absurdity via Terence's FB wall, I posted the response, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times and I'm buying a gun, and will give you a five-minute head start." Not that I expect an 89-year-old to get far, even if I were to give him an hour.

I didn't buy into the whole Rapture thing in any way. Like many, I had a boatload of jokes for it, including the fact that Jews are G-d's chosen people, and that if anyone is gonna get Raptured, it's going to be us first. (I'm also amused at how "Rapture" became a verb in these last few weeks.) The best seemed to come from my old friend, Terence:
INSTALLING RAPTURE.
███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE.
Install delayed....please wait.
Installation failed. Please try again. 404 error: Rapture not found.
EVENT "Rapture" cannot be located. The Rapture you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.
That got a good chuckle out of me.

Oh, but what truly gets me is the article from the New York Times. This one here. The third to last paragraph has me thinking that there will certainly be a Doomsday for some people...Like anyone who gave up everything to this non-profit organization in preparation for the supposed Rapture. When I wrote a few days ago about people giving up all of their possessions, I wasn't joking. They gave it all up under the assumption that they wouldn't be needing any of it after 21 May. Now they're the ones in need of charity, and the charity they gave to is turning its back on them.

Is there ANY religion that isn't selfish?

Well, at least there are unselfish people in the world, like Becky and I. You see, that aforementioned doctor's visit...? When I was called back, an elderly gentleman had come out a moment before. He told the receptionist that a ride would be coming for him, and that was that. I was off to the patient room to be treated...or something like being treated.

As we were leaving, we pulled out of the parking lot, turned down the small alley that led back to the roads to take us home, and standing there was the elderly man. Becky was already coming to a stop, when I told her to back up so that I could talk to him. We pulled into another parking spot, and...

Hey, we tried to be nice. When asked if there was a number to call his ride, he said there was, and Becky offered up her cell phone, what with it having unlimited minutes and all, so that he could call. He didn't get an answer, so I kind of volunteered us to give him a ride home. He refused multiple times, stating that he didn't want to be a bother.

But he WAS a bother. That is, his situation bothered me. My guess would be that he was in his very late 60s to mid-70s. He'd wandered about as far as he could go without vanishing from where his ride might see him, and I assume that was due to his impatience and not wanting to sit around all day. The man just wanted to go home And whoever it was that was supposed to provide him with that ride was off somewhere else, doing something else...when they should have sat and simply waited for him to be done with his appointment. Being unwell and having to wait for a ride to bring you back to the comfort of home can be irritating and distressing, all at once. I know because I've been there.

I suggested he go back to the office and sit, where he could at least be off his feet and a bit more comfortable. As we drove off, I noticed he wasn't moving toward the doctor's office. Well, it's like they say: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make the old man go back to the doctor's office to sit comfortably to wait for his tardy ride home, and you can't make him accept a ride home just because you want to do good deeds." Mind you, I could have gotten that "old saying" wrong.

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Daringly Diversionary Dexter

Ah, Dexter, Dexter, Dexter. Have you seen the show? It really is quite entertaining. The only thing I object to is the seeming necessity to show a great deal of sex as it's occurring, but other than that, it has high drama, great suspense, and plenty of dark humor. Well, what else should you expect from "America's favorite serial killer?"

"The book is always better than the movie." I've heard that hundreds of times, and said it almost as much. I didn't even need the Miami Metro robbery-homicide detectives to learn that the first season of the show was based on Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay. The more I watched of the show - and I'm slowly making my way through the third season now - the more I wanted to read the books. There are five novels right now, and I finished reading the first, the aforementioned title, last night.

In the case of Dexter, the book is NOT better than the show; it's DIFFERENT. It would seem that the television show worked to develop the characters more than the book seemed willing to do. Then again, the book is focused on only one character, and that's our darkly dreaming Dexter. The show will take time away from him, focusing on other players in the tale. It's neither good nor bad...just different.

The humor is also more frequent in the book. For the first season, the show takes a 341 page paperback and stretches it into a twelve-hour presentation. Lots of room for drama and suspense in those hours. The book, being more condensed and having only one character's focus, allows for Dexter's internal monologue from the show to go on, and on, and on. And some of his internal musings are quite funny. Allow me to share a couple of examples (that are edited so as not to reveal plot). (Note: it's entirely possible that one really must read more of the book to get these, but I still find them quite amusing.)

And with that thought of course everything seemed better. It was just so nice to have that settled. I prefer [person] alive, rather than in small bloodless sections. Lovely, almost human of me. Now that was settled: What next? I could call Rita, perhaps take in a movie, or a walk in the park. Or, let's see - Maybe, I don't know...save [person]? Yes, that sounded like fun.

Then, just a paragraph or so later...

All right then, clever Dexter - find him. Track down the [person]-napper. Let your relentless logic slash across the back trail like an icy wolf pack. Kick the giant brain into high gear; let the wind race across the rocketing synapse of your powerful mind as it speeds to its beautiful, inevitable conclusion. Go, Dexter, go!

Dexter?

Hello? Is anybody in there?

Characters are also different in the book. They have different roles in the department. I think the changes for the show were good ones, because having someone like Angel as just a forensics technician wouldn't have done much for the required drama of television. Two lab geeks on TV was enough for the masses. In the book, if Lindsay had chosen, it could have been all about the lab geeks, and none of the cops. But that's because television is addressed to masses who don't have great attention spans, while books are for those willing to truly commit to the details of a story.

I highly recommend the book...the first one, at the very least. I just started the second one this morning. (G-d bless Amazon and its reduced prices, along with free delivery; much cheaper than visiting a book store.) And as I understand it, the books and TV show went their separate ways after the first tale. In a way, this means I'm getting twice the Dexter, as the show offers an alternative timeline altogether. ("Not better but different" means the first book ends...differently.)

The foot aches. Rest is needed. And thankfully, I have what seems to be a good book waiting for me back in bed.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The end is nigh...

...or so I heard. Some lunatic named Harold Camping has proclaimed that Judgment Day is upon us. At 6:00 local time, around the world, I suppose, the Rapture will be upon us. Those going to Heaven need not pack, as all your needs will be met by their higher quality staff. Those taking the elevator down toward "warmer regions" should pack for a long, arduous stay. Anyone not going in either direction should shower and have on clean underwear...just in case.

From what I can find out, Camping claims the Rapture will occur today, 21 May 2011, and that G-d will eventually get around to completely destroying the Earth, as well as the known universe, by 21 October. This immediately becomes suspect, as it's always been easier to destroy than to create. For example, an office building can be demolished in a matter of hours, but can take months to erect. That said, if G-d created everything in six days, why will it take Him five months to finish the job? Is His schedule that tight? "Hmmm...I have that dental appointment on 24 May to get that cracked tooth looked at, and My annual wellness checkup on 29 August. Oh, and I'm taking Jesus on our yearly trip to Disney World in late September. It'd be a shame to obliterate his favorite vacation spot before We had a chance to go."

As a member of Facebook, I've been seeing all sorts of nonsense pertaining to this alleged event. From what I've read elsewhere, 200,000,000 will be "Raptured," and the rest of the world will simply cease to exist come October. If one can call what Camping preaches as "teachings," then he believes that no one will be receiving damnation; they'll just come to an abrupt end. This supposed Rapture would, in fact, happen at 6:00 PM local time, time zone by time zone, and the truly faithful would be called to Heaven...

...except that the deadline has come and gone in numerous parts of the world already, and no one has been "Raptured." If anything, I'd think their faith has been ruptured. "I quit my job, sold my house and my car, gave away all my money, and spent my remaining time trying to tell the world about our imminent, cosmic changes...and now I'm unemployed, penniless, homeless, and have been labeled a lunatic. Thanks a lot, Harry!"

Well, really...What did anyone expect from a guy who previously - and loosely, I might add - predicted the Rapture back in 1994? Back then, his message was, "The end of the world is nigh...Maybe...I could be wrong about this one. But after that, I'm pretty sure about it ending 17 years later, so mark your calendars."

Lunacy, I tell you!

My own faith is rather shaky at best. I was reared Jewish. Having gotten it wrong for so many years, I kind of stopped practicing religion. Still, I'll read my Old Testament every now and again, and certainly toss around plenty of Yiddish to maintain my Hebrew foundations. And because I can only be considered a Jew peripherally, I have some beliefs that some tend to question. They question it because I apply logic where I'm supposed to be applying faith.

For example, the Bible...Rumor has it that this is the word of G-d. But when one takes history into account, the Bible seems more like a manual put out to keep people moral and healthy. In the case of keeping Kosher, there was once a time when mixing dairy and meet meant becoming deathly ill. The process of cleaning a pig so it could be eaten was beyond them in ancient times, often resulting in food poisoning, so pigs were claimed to be inedible, and sinfully so! And the Ten Commandments...? Most are also the laws on men, and not just that of G-d. (Thou shall not covet anything of thy neighbors; thou shall not kill; etc.) By claiming that these laws came from G-d put fear into men and women; follow these laws or doom your soul!

But let's remove history and propose that the Bible truly is the word of G-d. How are we, as mere mortals, supposed to understand the will of a power that's both omnipotent and omniscient? If I were just a bit more faithful, I'd have to say that anyone claiming to KNOW the will of G-d is damning themselves. For all we know, Al Pacino's character was right in The Devil's Advocate, and G-d is a celestial prankster. "He gives you this extraordinary gift, and then what does he do? I swear, for his own amusement, his own private, cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It's the goof of all time. Look, but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, don't swallow." (Actors say that the Devil has the best lines.) Mortals CANNOT know the will of G-d, plain and simple...to me.

Becky's response was a little more basic. "I just spent all of this time, effort, and money to get into school. I even made the dean's list! The world better NOT freakin' end!"

Thus, Harold Camping has been proven wrong. The Heavens did not open up, and no one has been called to Heaven. Or maybe they were, but were in the shower and failed to answer the call. (Alternatively, the call could have shown up on caller ID as a telemarketer, and they refused to answer while watching their favorite TV shows.) He might have been off by a few hours. Maybe it was supposed to happen around midnight. And those who have given up all of their worldly possessions in preparation of the now false-event will be hitting the welfare lines come Monday.

But, hey! We still have next year, when the Mayan calendar runs out. (I still maintain it stops because the guy writing out the calendar ran out of ink!) The planets will align, get sucked into a wormhole, and we will all be bowing to our new, robotic/zombi/ninja/pirate masters in another galaxy. THAT'S when it'll be a party.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yes sir, that's my baby...

...no sir, I don't mean maybe.
Yes sir, that's my baby now.

Since I moved in, things haven't been easy on Becky. She works a paying job an average of 80 hours a month, with that being broken down to 15 hours one week and 25 the next. There's also the 29/11 split between weeks. Those are fun. On top of that, there was school. Even when she didn't wait for the last minute to handle assignments, it seemed to be a mad rush to get things done. And that's because the subject materials have been about as interesting to her as a cinder block.

Then there was me. We're in love, life is wonderful, etc. Except that my right foot decided to blow up...in size, if not an actual concussive blast. So now my beloved has had to handle this two-person household almost on her own, while roots slowly grow from my back, into the bed. The most amount of time I spend on my feet is when I take a shower, and I try to not let that time pass 10 minutes.

Despite all of this, Becky managed a 3.5 in her pre-nursing courses. We learned this several days ago, as Becky was able to find that information online at the college web site. I was proud of her. Heck, I've BEEN proud of her, and have said as much. I'm constantly pouring on the love, appreciation, and compliments.

But then that's my job, isn't it? A man should have good things to say about and to his future wife. And because it's expected, it detracts something from the sentiment.

So today was an average day. Becky and I got a late start on the day, bummed around until it was time for her to work, and I asked that she check the mail before she leaves. I'm waiting on paperwork from a new doctor I'll be seeing to discuss the possibility of a morphine pump. About a half an hour before she had to leave, she shut down World of Warcraft, got dressed, and checked the mail. Sure enough, there was the paperwork I was waiting on.

But there was also a piece of mail for her from the college. Curious as to what it was, she opened it immediately. She started reading, looked up, and said in an excited tone, "I made the dean's list!" She then went on to read the letter aloud to me, and commented, "I wasn't even trying to get on it. I mean, I didn't think a 3.5 would do it, but..."

I was so excited for her that I had to find someone to crow to immediately. And as I have her mother's phone number in my cell, I called 'Nita. It's great spreading good news, and 'Nita's excited response was one for the books. "I knew she could do it!" Well, I think it was more like she HOPED Becky could do it, but was somewhat unsure. Now we had the official notification that said she'd done it alright.

Now, this was a form letter. I'm sure there were quite a few students who'd made the grade and received a letter just like the one Becky did. The thing is that it was from an official source, and one that was impartial to how Becky was actually feeling. I make my compliments to keep my beloved's feelings buoyed. The computer that sent that letter was meeting program parameters that basically said, "Anyone who does so well in their schooling gets this letter proclaiming how wonderful they are." And because it was from such an impartial judge, it became high compliment indeed!

That Becky received a three-day suspension from work today for a accumulated minor errors at her cash register meant very little by the time she got that bit of "love." All that mattered was that she'd achieved a major accomplishment.

So...Once again, since I know Becky will be reading this...

See?!? You don't always believe me when I say how wonderful you are. You're always telling me that you're stupid. Well, now you have it from an official source. You're smart, and that's just one aspect that makes you an amazing woman. =)

Monday, May 16, 2011

First, an apology

Sorry, folks, but I can't write what would be a normal blog post today. I have to write a letter to the author of a book I finished reading last night. But if you're curious as to what it's about, you're in luck, as I'm putting it right here.

To John Scalzi;

Thank you for taking some of the best science fiction I've read and turning it into complete trash. Your idea of rebooting Little Fuzzy was an exciting idea. Allow me to quote what you wrote at the start of the book. "...Fuzzy Nation appropriates the general story arc of Little Fuzzy, as well as character names and plot elements, and weds them to entirely new elements, characters, and events. Think of this as a "reboot" of the Fuzzy universe, not unlike the recent J. J. Abrams "reboot" of the Star Trek film series (but hopefully with better science)." Like I said, an excellent idea. Except that the foundations of Star Trek and its characters were still in the new movie, and you did no such thing with your book.

But let's look at what you did, just to be sure.

The names that followed over from the original to your book are "Jack Holloway," "Mama Fuzzy," and "Baby Fuzzy." That was it. Zarathustra's name was circumcised to ZaraTwenty-Three. Was there something wrong with the names with which H. Beam Piper came up? Victor Grego was synonymous with "evil" in the first book, and I confess you made a much better bad guys in your novel...

But then there weren't many good guys, were there? Jack, tough old timer and overall likeable guy was turned into a con man, plain and simple. I was amused at the start when you gave him a dog. Then I learned that the dog was "of use" to him, and that was that. Everyone was of use to Jack Holloway in your book. If anyone liked him in your book, it was in spite of their instincts.

You know, by the time he experienced that first attempt on his life, I was looking at the book almost as though it were a movie. Your Jack would get killed, and the old one would come on scene with a rapid apology. "Sorry I was late. Some son of a Khooghra was after my sunstones again." But your version also had a dextrous mind, and was able to escape. Too bad for the reader, eh?

Ben Rainsford...? Gone. Gus Branhard...? Gone. Gerd van Riebeek...? Gone. Ruth Ortheris...? Gone. Leonard Kellog...? Gone. Juan Jimenez...? Gone. Ernst Mallin...? Also gone. That's quite a body count, but let's not forget that you eliminated an entire species, the less-than-loved land prawns. But they served an excellent purpose in Piper's book. A purpose that was eliminated in yours. Nice going.

Then there were the Fuzzies, themselves. They weren't cute unless you were telling us they were cute. Beyond that, they were simply a plot device. Not very loveable at all. You even dared to introduce us to something of a Fuzzy culture, but never explained why unisex creatures would need mates. Nice move, Ex-lax.

Oh...and thanks for eliminating veridicators. In Piper's courtroom, lying is IMPOSSIBLE. In yours, it's an episode of Law & Order. We had 20 years of that show, and you just had to bring it to one of my favorite sci-fi stories in order to make Jack...what? A good guy? He was NEVER a good guy.

It's not all complaints. You update the technology, so that "taking a tape at 60 speed" was no longer a silly concept. You made the Fuzzies unisex, and married them to the actual planet. You also gave the story one excellent line: "Get off my planet, you son of a bitch." So...yeah. Those three things.

I still read Fuzzy Papers from time to time. It's an excellent story told by a master. Your reboot, however, will likely be placed on a shelf to collect dust or, if I can find a place, resold in the hopes of getting my money back on the garbage you wrote. When a reader is praying for the main character to die by any means, it's a bad sign. I actually wanted most of your characters dead by the time I had hit the middle of the book. (Isabel Wangai could live, just as long as she vanished so as not to be little more than another plot device.) How you got the blessings of the Piper estate is beyond me.

So that's that. Please don't try to reboot anymore classic sci-fi, as you might do what you've done to Little Fuzzy. Stick to "original" ideas, of which I will read none, as this shining example of your writing has turned me away from ever buying another of your books.

Your in disgust,
Rob Meadows

This was a lot shorter than I would have liked, but then my foot doesn't allow for me to sit for days, griping in detail. Besides, one of you just might get curious and want to read this thing. Just do me a favor and try to get it used, as this guy might get royalties for your purchase...and this wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

If marriage is an institution...

...does that mean I'll be institutionalized once the deed is done? Seems accurate enough...linguistically, that is.

Late last night, while attempting to power down and sleep, Becky was thumbing her way through one of those wedding magazines, and she started talking about her plans for the wedding. This is how she wants to handle the money for the wedding, and she wants to invite the following people, and wouldn't this be a great place to have the ceremony AND the reception? It makes me wonder what happened to grabbing a couple of strangers off the street and dragging them before a J.O.P. and walking away as husband and wife. Screw the registry; send cash and we'll buy what we want.

Actually, I didn't think any such thing as she talked. If anything, I found myself fighting off my sleep meds to discuss one thing of another. It seems like we covered a lot of ground in our relatively short conversation. Here's what we have so far...

1: We start saving for the wedding ASAP. Now that I'm settled in, it's time to do some focusing on the future. Becky claims that she wants to tuck away about $25 per weekly paycheck toward the wedding. Fine by me. Whatever she puts away each month, I'll match at the start of the next month when I get my disability check. If all goes well, and we have no need to pid into that money for emergencies, we should have around $8,000 saved up.

2: The clothes we wear that day will be worn once, and only once. There's no need to go insane by buying anything expensive. And odds are good that my tux will be a rental.

3: Including the bride and groom, there will be 52 people at the wedding. That's it. Neither of us wants to invite distant relatives whom we couldn't recognize in a lineup. (More on this later.)

4: We're still juggling the ideas for a date, but we think we have it narrowed down to late September of 2013. (I believe 2013 was the goal. Or was it 2014? *sigh* My memory is like a steel trap. A very OLD, very RUSTY steel trap.) We would have liked it sooner, but there are certain things that come to mind that prevent us from doing so. For example, trying to get married around our current anniversary would conflict with her graduating from nursing school. We could try for a summer wedding, but then having it outdoors, as she'd like, while wearing heaving clothing isn't my idea of a good time.

5: Despite the fact that we're already working on guest lists, we know many whom we want to invite won't be able to make it. Siege, Ray, Cody, and my Dad for examples.

6: Sending invitations to people whom we'd like to snub with the event, and filing out their RSVP cards with the words "will NOT be attending," would probably be best left as a vindictive idea, and not actually practiced. >=P

7: Everyone else in the wedding party will be chosen by how ugly they are. We want to be the best looking couple there.

Okay, that last wasn't discussed at all. I'll talk to Becky about it in the near future.

While making our guest lists, both of us commented on how it would be great if we could invite the entire Playground to attend. There's just one little problem with that. If all who like me, even vaguely, were to show up, I believe we'd end up feeding around 50 to 200 people. I suppose we could pull it off if all we had to eat was toast, but then said toast would probably be cold and soggy by the time it was served.

Instead, because Becky has the idea of having the wedding out near her grandfather's farm, we would rope off the area where the "official" wedding was taking place, and the rest of the land could be taken up by Playgrounders in tents. It'll be all formal inside the roped area, while outside would be the biggest game of Kubb EVER! Then the ropes will come down, and all the single ladies can gather up for the throwing of the bouquet, while the single men gather for the throwing of that which will probably be my prosthetic foot by then. (I'll need it back before the honeymoon, gang. No "keepsies.")

The planning has just begun, and I thought it would be interesting to make notes in this blog about said plans. I mean, we've gone from wanting to elope to having a small wedding. For all I know, we'll have lists a mile long in terms of guests by next year, with our cats as the only other members of the wedding party. I dunno. But it'll be interesting to track, eh?

And so, having written all of this, my foot has decided to start aching rather fiercely. It's time for this barbarian monk to get back into bed. Be well, all, and DFTBA.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The First Blissful Year

This is it, folks. It's officially one year since I asked Becky to be my lady, and she agreed. For a day that was supposed to be dedicated to selfishness and doing nothing together, it's been busy...for my beloved. She held off on doing laundry until today, as well as putting off food shopping. She only stepped out moments ago to take care of the latter.

That said, we have still managed to make plans for this evening that focus on us. With her classes over for the moment, we'd been hoping to be able to do more together. Alas, my foot has made long walks, visits to cafes, or shopping trips to wherever things for which we'll have to wait. But this is our anniversary, and I've insisted that we do SOMETHING. Thus, we're going to the movies. We have a theater in walking distance...but we'll be driving because of the foot of doom. It's limited play list kind of forced us into selecting Thor for tonight. Personally, I couldn't care less what we see, as long as we do something together to celebrate.

Then again, we didn't need to do anything at all, as I believe we spend every day celebrating the romance we've discovered.

It's been particularly trying for me of late. One little tip in the wrong direction and I believe I'd become undone at the seams. Thinking of when I lived in KS, I was at least able to collect my own trash and get it out of my room for the guys to dispose of. Now...? Well, it's been days since I showered, and that's because even the fastest cleaning session means I'll be a few hours recovering afterward. I have to brace myself to go refresh my drinks when Becky isn't around. Even sitting at my computer, as I am now, has its limits. (It's been almost four weeks since I've played City of Heroes. Now you KNOW something's wrong.)

Becky might as well be a prescription, as she's just what the doctor ordered. She's not only been supportive of my inability to do much of anything, but has insisted on my getting plenty of rest. When I start complaining about how little I can do, she gets a bit stern with me, reminding me that this is nothing I asked for, and that she's okay with handling all that needs to be handled.

She gets something out of me in return. Her reward for doing all the work around here is having the man she loves trapped in bed, fully available for cuddling and kisses. It's not like I can run away, y'know? And it's ultimately adorable when she demands payment in kisses. It's the perfect economic system between people who love one another. =)

Free time, without classes to weigh her down, also means Becky starts getting to do something she's been liking more and more, and that's planning the wedding that won't happen for another three years. She simply couldn't resist buying a few bride magazines, flipping pages, and pointing out every dress that she thinks would be perfect. The only thing that shatters these dreams are the price tags. (Do people really spend $7,000 on clothing they'll only wear once?)

While she wants input into the wedding plans, I've made it as clear as I can. "Women want a wedding, while guys just want to be married." It's HER day. As far as I'm concerned, we could wear burlap sacks and have the ceremony in a barn, as long as she and I walk away as husband and wife. And so she has started planning the wedding, with me agreeing to most of what she says.

However, for those who might be thinking that I'm simply shrugging my shoulders with a kind of "whatever" attitude, allow me to correct you. There's been plenty I've had to say about various things, including her selections of dresses. If anything, she's been paying particular attention to a dress design that popped into my head. I got it into my head that she should have a white dress with deep red roses and green stems as part of its design. We have years to settle on anything, but every dress she looks at sees that little conversion, if only to see if it would work.

Becky obviously wants to do her best to be that which I might consider a "dream bride."

The reality s that my dream bride will support me when I'm at my worst, loving me regardless of whether or not I can provide her with material desires. She'll look at me in the morning, my "bed-head" providing me with seemingly demonic horns made of hair, and still call me handsome. She'll worry with me when things are bad, and celebrate with me when things are good. And so far, that's exactly what I have.

And since I know my beloved Becky will be reading this later...

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, BABY...AND MANY MORE TO COME!

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The a'sploding Becky

Relationships are about working communication and working together. If any of the work to maintain the relationship is one-sided, it can be a bit much for the person who's taken those tasks on. And with me unable to do a great deal lately, that which I was doing for our home has fallen to Becky...

...and she was never really set to handle those tasks to begin with. When we were not living together, she would make the statement that she needed to do some cleaning because her place was a disaster. And when she would make that statement, it would go through my head, Oh, it can't possibly be as bad as she makes it sound. Well, I was wrong. I mean, you can actually tell which side of the bed is mine because you can still see the floor. This isn't to say I'm some kind of neat freak. My old housemates can attest to that. 'Tis a fond memory, the vast tower of empty diet root beer cans in my room...

But that mess was in MY space, and not the rest of the house. Now that my personal space also belongs to Becky, I try not to let such great piles gather in my wake. My beloved...not so much. The thing is, I can understand to an extent the disasters. Her school semester just ended, but while it was in session, I knew that there were plenty of moments where she needed to drop everything and run off to class. The same applies to the paying job that she has.

The problem is that, upon her return, the messes get ignored, and she moves on to other projects that are guaranteed to create more trash. And so the piles grow...and grow...and grow. By the time it's decided that these piles need to be addressed, they're projects that will require a great deal of time to clear up.

Now, I love her with all of my heart. Unfortunately, I'm her husband-to-be, and not the guy who has to play the role of a parent telling his kid to clean up. It's humiliating for her, which makes me feel like a jerk. With neither of us feeling good about such chats, I keep trying to bring an end to the bad habit of letting a small mess become a large one.

The task of having such talks, however, isn't easy. Becky's past romantic interests had the habit of making her feel like trash. Their way was the right way, no matter what. And what makes it worse is that I am, in fact, right in this particular instance. To need to have this discussion...Well, my love was sure to become emotional and, at the very least, tear up. No matter what I say, no matter how gently I approach the subject, Becky gets upset. Offering her every opportunity to defend herself during such a chat doesn't help, as the wrongness of the messes themselves means instant defeat for her.

And so we had the chat this evening. She curled up against me, and I broached the subject as gently as possible, only to watch her sit silently, looking like a kid being reprimanded. I was feeling like crap at doing this to her, but then some of these piles can be dangerous to me. (I want to take trips WITH her, not over things she's left behind.) The tears began filling her eyes...

...and then she exploded. Well, it seemed that way. Her upset became a comedic moment because she seemed to LITERALLY burst into tears. One moment she was sitting there, taking the siftest verbal lashing I could dish out, and the next the tears seemed to squirt from her eyes. Thus, the seriousness of the chat was broken when I cried, "Oh my G-d, you a'sploded!"

We got past this needed conversation. And as a kind of retribution, Becky used my shirt to mop up her tears. It probably won't be the last such chat. This is bad behavior embedded in her, as is the occasional sarcastic comment from me. We both need to work on ourselves a bit to improve. Still, with the knowledge that there will be more discussions in the future, I can only hope her "a'sploding eyes" will be on hand to break up the tension.

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What a mess...

...at the end of my leg. Really, I was hoping the visit to the podiatrist today would bring about solutions of some kind, but I only have more worries now.

When I got to the doctor's office, I handed over the disc with the x-rays to the receptionist. She printed the pictures and eventually handed the disc back to me, along with the radiology report. I read said report, and kind of wondered if it was an actual radiologist who looked at the pictures. I mean, there was mention of the previous break in the third metatarsal of my right foot, but no mention of evidence that I had osteomyellitis. When I look at the x-rays, I can see said evidence, and I'm not trained to see such things. So why didn't the radiologist say anything about it?

When the podiatrist came in, I explained that aspect, and how I was concerned that we'd received an accurate reading at all. The doc didn't actually say anything to that, but went on to read the x-rays himself, admiring the progressive damage occurring in my foot. The x-rays were negative for fractures and the like, although micro-fractures are probably what's occurring in my ankle. The result is what appears to be the instant onset of severe osteoarthritis along the top of my foot, right by the ankle. The micro-fractures, however, cannot be seen at the moment; not until they become large fractures. A bone scan might show it, but no one seems to be rushing for that.

As a side note, the osteoarthritis in my big toe is now official, without there being anymore "moderate" arthritis to speak of.

I discussed the discomfort I've been experiencing, and the doc was in fair agreement of what I was saying. I don't want MORE medication, but MORE EFFECTIVE meds. I asked about a morphine drip at home, to which the doctor said such a thing was possible, but that he didn't do such things. He recommended I talk to my PCP about it during my upcoming appointment on Friday. He even mentioned that a morphine pump that could be surgically installed, but said such a thing was only possible to get in Philadelphia. Again, it's something to be discussed with my PCP.

We also talked about the fact that I still have over six weeks until I can get in to see the ankle specialist. My podiatrist is concerned, and would like me to be seen sooner, but the best that can be done is, in fact, being done. I'm on a waiting list in case anyone cancels. I was then offered the chance to see another specialist, but the alternate was over two hours away. I would be unconcerned if it was a one-shot visit, but my condition will require follow-up visits and the like, which becomes difficult to pull off at such a distance. At first I was ready to jump at the idea, as faster is better...but what if this other doctor wanted to hospitalize me? It would probably have to be at a facility nearer to his office, and that wouldn't work very well for Becky and I.

"But Rob...This is serious. Couldn't you just sacrifice time with Becky and get this foot addressed?" No, I couldn't. Because Becky is the person holding me together at this moment. I'm frustrated that there's so little I can do, and because of all the discomfort I'm experiencing. If Becky were two hours away, unable to visit at a moment's notice, I'd probably start coming apart emotionally. I need her in much the same way I need oxygen.

My confidence in the alternative doctor was also shaken by a story my doc told me about a woman who developed Charcot's foot instantaneously. The local doctor was unable to do...whatever, but the alternate was willing. But he decided to cut corners when it came to insurance, and so the woman was to go for various tests before making the two-hour trip to him. The process took too long, and the result was the woman requiring the amputation of her foot.

And that's what's hanging over my head at this moment in time. I fear that the swelling will become so bad that it will literally choke off the blood supply to my foot, resulting in toes turning green on me overnight. Green toes are not good to have unless you've clicked with the zombie set. Thus, I need to be examining my foot daily...which is something I don't actually like to do, as seeing how swollen it's become is disturbing enough.

Friday can't come along soon enough. This sensation of nails and spikes, as opposed to pin and needles, is making me a bit crazier each day. I discussed the possibility of going to the ER with the podiatrist, and he said he would back my claims should I have a greater need for hospitalized pain management...something I'm trying to establish at home, as taking up a hospital bed just because I hurt doesn't seem fair.

I need to get back to bed, folks. Be well, and DFTBA!