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Apr. 10th, 2016

It started in Spring of 2012. Matt got a fellowship to stay in Philadelphia for a month to do some digging in the archives of the Wagner Free Institute for his dissertation. He stayed with Michal, who had just recently gotten her PhD and landed a cushy job at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. While he was there, on a whim, he interviewed for a job offered at the American Philosophical Society. A part-time job, but the APS is very prestigious, so why not, who knows. And now we know who knows.... nobody! That's who knows!

Around that time Matt's mom began to feel ill. She ignored the nausea and general malaise for as long as possible, as all normal healthy people would do. But eventually, when she had to dash to the kitchen sink every morning to barf up her cereal, because she couldn't make it all the way to the bathroom in time, she finally went to the doctor. Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma.

Between diagnosis and the initiation of treatment, she became very weak and debilitated. Matt's dad, like most men of his generation, was unaccustomed to care for himself in terms of nutrition, laundry, etc. This would not be a big deal, except that he has advanced COPD, which narrows the balance-beam upon which his life strides. He also became weak and debilitated. These two strong people actually asked for my help.

I was in Maryland with them for two weeks. That ordeal I will save for a future episode. But the moment the first domino fell, I remember clearly. I had driven Matt's mom & dad to Upper Chesapeake Medical center for an appointment to check her recently implanted port for chemo. Matt called while I was sitting in the waiting room, and I stepped down the hall to elevator banks to talk to him. The APS had called and offered him the job. My life at that point was a scrunched-up ball of worry. Both of the parents seemed really in need of help. I was convinced and certain that they would need us, boots on the ground, in Maryland, forever, amen. Philadelphia is an hour away from Edgewood. In that hospital corridor, I thought the best, smartest, most responsible option was to take my happy life, and toss it like a handful of bright feathers into the wind. We would up stakes and move north.
In my dream an unknown Greek lady drove me to the farm. She was a haphazard driver. As we swerved down the driveway in a hectic Fiat, I glimpsed a dead horse being dragged by the forelegs into a small spaceship. Near the end of the barn was the partially burned wreckage of a biplane. It was feeding time and the horses were in their stalls. The barn had expanded to a warren of connecting aisles, full of unfamiliar horses. Kim, Barb, and some new people were grouped around a wheelbarrow. It was brimming with cash: small bills and assorted coins. They told me to put all my money in it. Every cent, or it wouldn't work. I pulled raggedy dollars and fivers out of my purple wallet, and scratched around in the pocket for all the dimes and pennies. Is that all? they said. It has to be everything or it won't work. I remembered there was a dime change in my back pocket from getting a Diet Coke from the Pepsi machine at work. I dropped that in. A man appeared. He seemed strangely familiar. I think he was some kind of sit-com actor from the 70's; he had the hair for it. From the agitation of the other people grouped around the wheelbarrow full of money, I knew something momentous was going to happen. The 70's guy pulled up his shirt way high to expose a meagerly defined six-pack, and aimed his abdomen at the wheelbarrow. Everyone ran for cover around the side of the barn, murmuring that this had better work this time, because the last time he set the biplane on fire. It must have worked, because when we came back the actor was gone and the wheelbarrow was heaped with bricks of cash. Everyone took some. I wandered around for a while, and sat in Barbs ratty old automobile. Gleaming new bridles and strap goods draped the rear view mirror and visors. When I returned there were still several bricks of cash left in the wheelbarrow. Kim encourage me to take as much as I wanted, but for some reason I cannot comprehend or explain, I dithered. The dream dissolved before I made up my mind. Damned indecision!!

Apr. 2nd, 2016

This is a horrible place to work. I'm on the ragged edge of sad all the time. But there was that time that Melissa shocked me by saying that I was always happy and in a good mood. What? Me?? No, I'm teetering on the brink of despair all the time! Well, okay, it's true I do frequently appear overjoyed, but that's because I see you, Melissa, and I say hi, how are you, how was your weekend, etc, and how can I be on the brink of despair when I'm joking around? Same when I see Vin, or Sam, or Adam, or Alyssa, or pretty much anybody except the evil monsters. I live in the moment. And some moments are not too bad.

It used to happen all the time; driving home down the Merritt Parkway, the highway sliced between monstrous millennial slabs of twilight granite, overcome by perplexity. How did I get here? How did I come to be here? That sense of bewilderment is absent now, and I'm no longer weirded out by the geology. I know how I came here. A series of right turns that turned out to be wrong.

Jul. 21st, 2012

Packing for moving to Philadelphia

Ironically, much of "packing" entails "packing" stuff in plastic garbage bags & "packing" it into the dumpster.

Also, unpacking old stuff previously packed, or more accurately, quarantined in some kind of memory vault/freezer. Like the one that contains the last samples of the Smallpox virus. For the first time in 11 years, I read letters to & from Voldemort. Read many old letters from Voldemort when he was despondent in exile in Kissimmee, long before I fell in love with him. Now THAT shit was ironic. Because some years after that he would cast the Avada Kedavra on me for writing despondent letters. Villains are such hypocrites.

There was an email he sent on Oct 25, 2011. It was devastating to me then. Did I secretly suspect that some day I would be able to read it dispassionately? Is that why I printed it out and kept it, locked in a box with less toxic mementos?

So my sub rosa Voice of Reason was right. It was interesting to view it calmly through the telescope of years. If I didn't know he was full of crap I would think that he had a point. I was unhappy over breaking up. But I was getting over it. In the memory vault I found diary entries right after the breakup. I was okay. Then he started calling me, keeping me on the phone longer than seemed normal for someone who just dumped me. This was confusing. I took it as some kind of permission to stay in contact. Then he started to become evasive and chilly. Then he dropped a radioactive ice bomb on me, in the form of a letter accusing me of being obsessed.

I'm not Saint Shelly the Devine. I know I ignored my instincts that he didn't want to have close friendship at that time, and I tried to maintain it. I was my own second-worst enemy. I brainwashed myself that it would be mean and unkind to shun my worst enemy. Then my worst enemy shunned me.

I shredded everything. The emails, the old handwritten letters, post cards, diary pages. Interred the gifts he gave me in a dumpster grave. It was all meaningless. Life is good now, but it probably would have been good if I had never met Voldemort. Or if Voldemort and I had never been more than acquaintances who occasionally laughed at each other's jokes. If Voldemort's life is great now, it is neither in spite of or because of me. But... but... I can't stop myself. It's like some kind of sugar-frosted crack rock - I can't make myself not care. I hope his life *is* great. And I never ever want to find out.
Currently having a fantastic time at Yale. Listening to three courses on iTunesU: Capitalism: Success, Crisis & Reform, The Moral Foundations of Politics, and The Foundations of Modern Social Theory. I love how the ideas overlap and braid themselves together. I already was an acquaintance of Jeremy Bentham from Legal Studies 160, Punishment, Culture & Society, but now moving from the Panopticon to Utilitarianism. Also starring are Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Adam Smith and John Rawls. Looking forward Weber and my dear friend Emile Durkheim. There are so many more things I want to read and think about, I don't know how I'm going to fit it in. Step one: turn off computer.
In my dream I was part of a tribe of eccentrics that lived in an amusement park. We each lived in an amusement park ride, and rotated between them. I was furious at Jim from The Office because he decided to end the rotating living accommodations scheme JUST WHEN I was about to move into Hogwarts Castle. I had always been fond of Jim and supported him when he came up with new sensible ideas, but the injustice of this one made me livid. I called him a creep and stalked off. I think he was favoring the Three Little Pigs because of some misguided affirmative action, but they have ALWAYS moved up in the world and needed no special treatment.

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In my dream I had a friendly giant goldfish that lived in a big glass tank. As I went about my business, I would frequently pass the tank. I always greeted the goldfish with a cheery hello and sometimes a gentle pat on the back. One day I passed the tank, reached in to pet the goldfish, and he fainted. To my utter shock and dismay, there was almost no water in the tank. Hastily I refilled it. I went on about more boring dream business that was probably very happy because I can't remember it at all. Then, again, as I was passing the tank I reached in to gently stroke the goldfish, and he fainted again. No water!!! In the waking world, I now realize that I should have checked to see if the tank were leaking, but oh no. In the dream I blamed myself for a neglectful monster. Back and forth I dashed from the bathroom to the tank with a small plastic cup of water. It was taking too long, this time there was almost no water above the layer of gravel. I grabbed up the tank and lugged it into the bathroom. I think I must have lived in a high school (so this officially was a nightmare) because the bathroom was large, with stalls, and a long counter with tiny sinks. I can't remember if I saved the fish. This is the first time I've dreamed about neglecting a fish. I'm guilty of forgetting any number of dream rodents and lagomorphs, but obviously I'm branching out into other branches of the animal kingdom. I have a vague spiderweb recollection of rescuing a pet that someone else had neglected, but it wasn't a horrible enough experience to survive birth into the waking world. How nice it would be to have a dream where I was a superhero, or even just an ordinary hero. It could be argued that I don't need to dream about it if I do it every day.

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Lately I'm on some kind of kooky quest to comprehend the world. I discovered two things about iTunes U: Some of the lectures are incredible and brilliant. This gold is hidden in mountains of crap. I've listened to the full series of lectures on Civil War & Reconstruction by David Blight twice all the way through. If someone name-drops the Wilmot Proviso I have a vague notion what they're talking about. But I still can't remember all the battles and who won them. I'm not completely through Punishment, Culture & Society by Jonathan Simon. It's even more interesting, but the concepts are tougher and more difficult to masticate - like coconut, but tastier. This makes me want to learn more and more.... and reiterates to myself how much I don't know and can't understand. Sometimes I feel like I'm swimming up a waterfall.

Additionally, I want to learn to express myself effectively. I need to learn rhetoric. Oh, could I please go back in time and make myself try harder in school, starting about 5th grade? Could I please convince myself not to waste the precious opportunities I had, not to somnambulate through the decades?

searching for a criminology syllabus, discovered this:

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/golf.htm

Mar. 28th, 2011

I need to keep this journal. Calendar squares fly by. I don't want to forget it all.
Recap: it's almost six months since we adopted The Snuggler.
Ruby and I always took a morning walk around the apartment complex before dawn. In section we called the Cozy Corner a tiny kitten would sometimes shyly emerge, meowing, rubbing against my shins, asking to be petted. Then he would dash away into the shadows. If I sat on the curb and pretended not to look at him, he would climb up and go crazy: purring madly, climbing up on my shoulders and strangling me with his body. He was very thin, a purring black shadow. I talked Matt into adopting him. Ruby Jr's medical problems have devastated our credit cards. But the little black shadow cat seemed so healthy - no allergies! Just very thin.

One night we crept out with a cat carrier. Two tiny ears, two tiny gleaming eyes emerged from a hiding place. We snaggled him up and stuffed him in. Desperate cat cries! But moments after we let him loose in the den, he calmed down and said "hey, I'm home." The most cuddly, loving, smoochy, snuggly cat I've ever met. To the vet, for the snip-snip. Two important things learned: he's a boy! And he has not one, but TWO serious heart defects. Healthy now, but heart failure is inevitable. Are you kidding me?!? But at least he doesn't have allergies.

Now he's the biggest softest, fluffiest, snuggliest, happiest cat I've ever known.

Cootie's allegies have fluctuated from very bad to pretty good. Right now she's on an immunosuppressant and dexamethasone. With the special food, and all the meds, she costs about 150 a month. But if we hadn't brought her in, she would have been dead long ago. Worth it.

Ruby Senior gradually became weaker over the past year. Her cognitive abilities also deteriorated. Sarah at the barn is a vet student and was saying that dogs have similar Alzheimer disease changes as humans do. Short term memory vanishes, while memories of long ago are retained. How can you tell if a dog can remember her childhood? Ruby seemed increasingly confused, although not in pain or distress. Her mobility diminished. Then one day she lost her appetite. It was time. It was Feb 6th, we had to let her go. Three years ago they found a mass in her liver and on her adrenal gland. They said she had only a few months to live. She sneaked off with 36 months. It was easier to let her go than I thought it would be, because the difference between her many healthy years and the few debilitated months was so striking.

I'm worried about Ruth. Like Ruby, her mobility, cognition, judgment, strength... everything... has diminished to terrifying levels. Unlike Ruby, I can't control her diet, exercise, medications... anything. It is very difficult to see a loved one fall apart, arguing with you every step of the way that there's nothing wrong.

This are the major things of the past six months, or however long it's been since I wrote in my diary.

Non-minor issues...
I think I need to get some therapy. This Xmas was excruciating. My brother, his father in law, and Mom's new husband discoursing at length in loud voices the manifest flaws of our president. Beginning and ending with his skin color, and all other characteristics stuffed in the middle. It was like an Aryan Nations/Klan rally, with presents. I don't belong with those people. I never want to see them again. My mom is so passive, so devoid of principles or strongly held beliefs, she cannot understand why I'm so upset. They are my family, I have no others. Is it a higher sign of character to keep my lip zipped, ignore everything and feel a traitor to my principles? Or reject them entirely and outright? I am afraid to admit to my quasi-socialist anti-racism viewpoints. I don't want to argue with them. I'm not good at it. I think I need some kind of unbiased guidance on this. Or maybe I'm just wanting for somebody to tell me it's okay to reject your blood relations.

The main motivation to renew my diary was the dream I had last night. I love writing my dreams.

In my dream I was watching a Shakespeare play. It was something like Taming of the Shrew, but not quite. Are there any Shakespeare plays that take place in a bakery? Matthew Macfadyen was the hero, and some dim bulb was the heroine. I knew that I could do a better job, even though I didn't know the plot and hadn't even read the lines, let alone memorized them. So they let me try. I was doing great! At intermission I went for a walk. I thought it would be a genius idea to take a short cut down the mountain back to the theater by climbing through the mechanism of a gigantic ancient grist mill. It wasn't turning, after all. It probably didn't even work. Through tiny windows and gaps in the immense stone cogs and wheels I glimpsed the theater far below in the valley. I better hurry or I'll miss the curtain up! Then the wheels started to vibrate. Sounds came from below. Oh great, I'm not going to be able to finish my love scenes with Matthew Macfadyen because I've been crushed to death in a grist mill! And then... damn you alarm clock!

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