On Reading (brief)

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I go to a bookstore, and I want to read EVERYTHING, but I wind up reading nothing. I’ve been afflicted by this condition for half of my life. It blows my mind how much I don’t know, but, also how much I have the power to know but avoid.

V-day raw

February 14, 2004

No wonder I don’t seek out new friends nor do I get excited over the prospect of dating. Once someone gets to know me, they inevitably realize that they didn’t just catch me in a phase, that I’m always like how I’ve been, and they start asking why I don’t just change. The benevolence with which this suggestion is made is irrelevant; the point is that it makes me a hundred times shittier about myself before such comment was made, and I certainly can’t afford to associate with anyone who makes me feel a hundred times shittier about myself than I am capable of doing on my own.

…it just makes me loathe myself and the world once again. I know it grows tiresome and ridiculous for me to continue to harp on something I should’ve gotten over weeks ago, if I ever should’ve had anything to get over in the first place. No, I’m just appeasing the masses by saying that. I shouldn’t have gotten over anything, because it’s not in my nature to get over things. If I could get over this, I could get over every oozing wound I’ve had in my lifetime, and I’d be happy from time to time and would not be so sensitive to everything. Someone is liable to suggest that I like playing this role, that I continue to react the same way to situations because I’m so comfortable with how this feels. Wrong. I don’t want any advice from the peanut gallery. A simple, “I don’t quite understand, except that I understand you’re in pain, and I’m hear to listen” would suffice, but no one ever offers that, and frankly I don’t want it if I have to ask for it anyway.

Public entry…come friends and family who don’t know that this exists, give this a read. Those who know this exists, come tell me what a self-absorbed asshole I am and how I deserve to drown in my own vomit.

No, it’s not that this Valentine’s Day sucked. It’s that so did last year’s, and the one the year before that, and before that, and so on and so forth, every year when my sensitivity was just as acute as it is now. Well, just get over it, already! I wish that I could! Well, maybe you don’t really want to?? Well, Dr. Shrink, maybe I don’t, fine, you win, if it makes you feel better, although I don’t agree…

Stuff circa January 8, 2011

Dating I went on a date a few days ago, and it was heartbreaking. It was a stark reminder of why I rarely ever go on a date. I battled for ninety minutes to be funny, engaging, and charming. She often seemed genuinely interested in me. I rattled off feelings about being on dialysis and transplant lists that I hadn’t shared with anyone. I, briefly, had the sense that it was ok that I hadn’t been to other countries, held an advanced degree, read five books a month, or looked like every healthy bike-riding guy who comes into Whole Foods. There were five or ten minutes when I had self-confidence. But later that night, I received the “I don’t think we’re a match” email. Rather than pick myself up, dust myself off, do whatever one is supposed to go to keep functioning, I took the rejection as a gravely-wounding piercing. I did not react as such by choice. This humiliating numbness is a physiological reaction I’ve been getting since I was in grade school. Allow myself a moment of being open to something amazing, and I will inevitably experience crushing agony. This never changes. At 35 and stuck on dialysis, the cumulative weight of all of these rejections is indescribable. I do not know anyone who gets how badly this feels.

Housekeeping I had been so excited that I was finally, after years of thinking about it, going to get a housekeeping service to come and clean up my place. I had been reluctant, in part, for so many years, because I feared that such a service would be unable to do a whole lot without me first doing a hefty bit of pre-cleaning. How can they clean the floors if I don’t remove the clutter? How can they clean the kitchen if I don’t do the dishes? But the same fatigue and paralysis that prevent me from going through a stack of junk prevents me from vacuuming the floor. If I can do the first part, why do I need to hire someone for the second? But I reasoned to myself that there must be services to clean the homes of those who pass away or those who simply live in extreme filth and can’t help themselves at all. My place isn’t nearly that bad. These services must know how to help me. But my original fears were realized. When a rep came by to discuss my options, I was told that, no, the cleaners would not throw anything away. They would not do my dishes. They would not pick up piles of stuff. They’d do cleaning and dusting of areas that were already clear, thus validating my theory that only people who have reasonably clean homes actually hire cleaning services in the first place. I still plan to use the service, but my enthusiasm has most deflated. The phrase “putting lipstick on a pig” comes to mind. I’m going to pay them a couple hundred bucks to make my baseboards shiny. The place will still look like a dump.

Work Let’s assume no one from work is reading this. I am overwhelmed by my new job everyday. No one has told me I am failing to meet expectations. No one has told me I am doing anything wrong. But I just assume that I am. My brain is not up for following phone conversations with a dozen people scattered across the world. My brain wants to engage is problem-solving off in its own space and does not want to be interrupted by endless meetings and endless exercises in documenting what I haven’t had the chance to even do yet. And then there’s the small matter of, everyday, wondering how I will put in a solid effort alongside my thrice-weekly dialysis sessions. My body and mind are exhausted, and there seems to way for them to rebound as long as I rely on a machine to filter out toxins from my body. Sounds like a bad time to have changed jobs! Except my last job was soul-sucking; I needed to move on. I don’t regret taking the new job. I regret that I don’t have 2-3 years of savings so I can just do what most dialysis patients do, which is to go on disability.

Dialysis I had figured out what made me so horribly uncomfortable at dialysis, but I never shared the resolution. First, I didn’t want to dwell on how the medical establishment had failed me. Second, dialysis did not turn into a picnic, and it just didn’t seem useful to comment on how dialysis had become just a little less intolerable. At it’s best, I’ll have competent techs and a quiet, pain-free treatment. But, at it’s best, it’s four hours out of the heart of my day that will cause my body to feel uneven for another couple of hours and fail to give me any noticeable boost in energy or affect.

Metablogging I post the croutons as a reminder to myself of a part of myself that I hope still exists, even if it’s easy to cast it off as foolish and naive–the young, unapologetic romantic. Or something like that. I still mourn Toastie Radio, my attempt in the early part of the 2000s to share the music I liked with the world, which at some points, like then there’d be 40-50 concurrent global listeners, came close to being gratifying. In the end, it was a failure, a colossal waste of time and money…and the currency of optimism, of which I’ve always been short-changed.

I posted an unflattering shot of my gut because I wanted to document the time prior to my nephrectomy surgery. I have profile shots that make that distended abdomen far more grotesque. Then again, those shots may be from 15-20 pounds ago. It’s unfortunate that I can be 15-20 pounds down from my heaviest weight and not feel the slightest bit of accomplishment. I don’t feel anything, because my body is weak and completely lacks agility. I’m a sloth. And I’m clearly not having any success on the dating circuit.

I post about politics as a reminder that I’m thinking about these things. I regret that I can’t write intelligently about these issues. It’s much simpler to just throw up a link to someone who had written something intelligent.

When I write a long post like this were I’m stressing about the consequences of my writing, I must put to the back of my mind the thought of who may be reading this. Family members read this. People solely interested in kidney disease and dialysis read this. Former coworkers read this. (I hope no current coworkers read this). If I worry about how I’m coming across, then I’m writing a different blog. Perhaps one day I’ll have a blog dedicated to a particular topic, and I’ll write it in a professional matter, and it won’t be self-absorbed.

For now, above all else, this blog is a coping mechanism for everything. I am not always explicit about how a given post is meant to be therapeutic. Ideally, I’d be writing more. I’d be writing just like this. Granted, it’s 3:52AM, and I don’t strive to be up at this hour on a regular basis. But the benefit of 3:52AM is the lack of inhibition. I’m just writing what comes to mind, and I’m going to hit the Publish button, and this will be up there in the morning. I can go back to sleep with a far-clearer head.

On the latest Facebook redesign

I switched to the new Facebook profile now rather than wait for them to do it for me one day. I hate Facebook more with each new upgrade. All the new Facebook does is make me more acutely aware of how I can’t figure out anything by which I’m happy to define myself. I am not my job. I am not my four years at college. I am not where I grew up. Or, at least, I don’t want to be defined by these quick-and-easy biographical factoids.

Also, I’ve untagged myself from all Facebook pictures. I don’t wish to be tagged anymore. I certainly don’t want the last five photos of myself strewn across my profile. Strewn? In fact, I don’t think I’ll keep most of the pictures I’ve got of myself on there.

I don’t mind telling you anything and everything on this blog. (I guess I do mind; I’m battling with myself all the time about what ought to go here). The thing about this blog is that it’s on my own website, and that I don’t even use my name. If this isn’t your first time on this site, you probably know my name. But it’s different hiding behind a moniker somehow. The Facebook page is under my name, and there are certain attributes you are supposed to share with everyone to form the portrait of who you are. Maybe that’s it; that’s what I hate. I prefer the open-ended essay to the guided Q and A.

No, I don’t just prefer the open-ended nature of a blog. I despise how a site like Facebook seeks to define me by a tidy set of questions and a row of pictures.

I look at the new Facebook, and I feel like Facebook is encouraging me to be a narcissist. Look at me! Look at everything about me! Frankly, a lot of times, I really can’t stand me, and Facebook doesn’t seem to get that. Perhaps today, I just want my name and my picture and brief statement that says, “That’s it.”

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Alas, most people I know communicate via this hideous tool, so if I am to remain even the slightest bit of a social being, I need to use it.

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You know what it is? Facebook amplifies your life…and they probably would love that as slogan. It’s wonderful if things are going pretty well for you…you can share how well everything is going, and you can marinate in it, and everyone you know can join you… But if things are not going so well…well, it’s not exactly amplified…Facebook pages rarely turn into portraits of doom and gloom…there’s the facade of a happy person with good stuff going on…look–pets, job, good college, smiling in all these pictures, all sorts of amusing interests… It’s just not an accurate representation of life…for ME…it’s not. My Facebook profile seems like it belongs to someone else. It’s not the same person who hates getting out of bed every morning and hates going to sleep because he dreads that next morning.

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Have you ever seen a Facebook page that just screamed out to you,

I hate getting out of bed every morning, and I hate going to sleep every night, because I dread tomorrow.

Of course not. Nobody would “friend” such a person. Nobody with 847 friends says shit like that.

No, I don’t need or want 847 friends. But I certainly don’t have 179 or whatever Facebook says I’ve got. Yes, I know I have friends. At the moment, I’m just saying…

…I have no conclusion. I forgot what my original point was. I’ve just been typing…and it’s been mostly garbage…and I don’t care…see…I don’t need to worry about “what not to say on Facebook” or that I’m being one of the “10 types of friends on Facebook that annoy you”…I should get some sleep…

Q & A

Q: How’s the new job?

A: Let me take no more than 12 minutes on Sunday night to try to answer this question. I’ll feel better if I get all of this out of my system.

I haven’t been feeling too well since I started my new job. At first, I think I was feeling the effects of a kidney episode, perhaps an infection or a bleeding cyst. I was feeling feverish and queasy most of the time. When I wasn’t at work or at dialysis, I just wanted to sleep or do absolutely nothing other than watch Netflix.

Whatever the kidney episode was, it’s probably is in the past. Meanwhile, dialysis sessions had been hellish due to the deep freezes and cold sweats. Because of the tendency of dialysis to make me feel horrible and the recent illness, and the traveling I did about a month ago, I’ve skipped dialysis a fair amount of late. This, in itself, has probably made me feel more rundown than I might be feeling if I were regularly getting dialyzed three times of week.

So, for the past three weeks, I’ve been worrying about my health, first and foremost.

Then, when I spend a moment to collect my thoughts, I realize that my life just consists of going to work, going to dialysis, and resting. I desperately need to get involved in things and to connect with people. I’ve desperately needed to do these things for quite a long time. It’s usually seemed close-to-impossible. Lately, it’s felt pretty much impossible.

With every passing day, week, month, and year, I am more and more isolated from the world around me. Just like the muscles of my body seem to be atrophying as I undertake less and less physical activity, I am a withering social being. I always used to feel like an outsider. Now, more than ever, I feel cut off from the rest of civilization. I feel irreparably lost.

And time’s up. And that’s how the job is going.

Usefulness

I did just replace a laptop keyboard all by myself. So I am capable of doing something useful, no thanks to Lenovo’s instructions.

Now, I wouldn’t have had to do this had I not eaten pineapple over my laptop, and then, to get rid of the sticky keys, sprayed Windex atop it all for good measure.

This whole situation is a wonderful metaphor for my life…except I usually can’t fix the keyboard in these situations…and wind up buying a whole new laptop…which is really wasteful…and is a wonderful metaphor for my life, like I was saying…

Penultimate day on the job

American Tobacco - 080618:50 AM – Settled in for my second-to-last day on the job I’ve been at for five years and four months. I have had by longest tenure, by far, here. So, while I have experienced many last (two) days, this one is different. All of my pet photos are off my cubicle walls. I have a few papers to sort through, but most of what needs review, at this point, exists on my hard drive. If there are any important documents that exist on my PC but not up in network space, I’ve got to get them uploaded. I do have a sincere desire to do all I can to “transfer knowledge” in these closing moments. It’s been a difficult slog at times. I do hope things go smoothly for those I’ve worked with. I do hope that, in retrospect, my efforts are appreciated. I realize that much of what I’ve done may be figuratively thrown out in the next year or two; this is unfortunate, but a reality of work in the IT field.

9:30 AM – Have successfully gone through My Documents root. Now for the subfolders…

Everyone asks me, “Are you taking any time off in between?” When I say that I’m not, people seem surprised, since, aren’t you supposed to? “Don’t you have any sick days?” someone asked. Everyone means well, but I wanted to explode here. I’VE BEEN SICK FOR THREE YEARS. I had over two weeks of vacation time stored up by early 2008. Then I got a kidney stone that eventually required surgery. I lost all of time right there. Between kidney failure fatigue and three fistula surgeries, I wound up veering into negative numbers for time-off. Since I’ve been on dialysis, I pretty much have used sick and vacation time as I’ve accrued it. Thus, I take an occasional three-day-weekend and that’s been it. Oh my God, I’d love to take two weeks off to just chill before I start my new job. But I needed to give a month’s notice here; my new job wanted me to start asap; and I can’t afford to have no income coming in for any length of time. I am so thoroughly exhausted…but no time off. A four-day Thanksgiving weekend is approaching. I will watch West Wing DVDs in my living room while my cats eat their Roasted Turkey Fancy Feast.

2:00 PM – Lunch at Toast was so very, very good. I wish I had made the very short walk to Main Street more. I’ve gone through all of my documents and uploaded the relevant ones to our wiki or emailed them to my teammate. My desktop is essentially cleaned out. All of the cabinet drawers are essentially cleaned out. I have a five-year-old box with what appears to be 500-or-so business cards. I think I’m progressing well toward a goal of being essentially done by the end of the afternoon, where tomorrow can be a no-stress day.

4:00 PM – Real work to do because of something I bungled. Learned something from TM—F2 allows you to edit an Excel cell directly in the cell, which I never, ever know after all of this years.

5:15 PM – It was not a stress-free afternoon since a query I had used to help migrate some data neglected to include 5% of instances. I had to scramble to fix that. But with “that”, I did manage to finish up a task I had been anxious to get done for five years. I had to manually tweak some data, and in doing so, I saw the names of individuals and groups that had flickered on my screen these past five years. I’ll have an entirely new set of names and groups and terminologies and screens to look at starting Monday. I think I’ll be relieved.