Makin’ the Tough Choices

As I type these first words it is 4:24 PM and I’ve successfully managed to avoid another day of work.  Yes, I showed up at the office.  Yes I’m collecting a pay check for this day, but have I worked?  Not so much.

The irony is not lost on me.  For a while now, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to find a way to make a living with blogging and writing.  I believe the phrase was, “I’d like to get paid to blog” to which K replied, “I think you already do.”  Well, I’d like to get paid to blog, ‘cause it’s what I’m paid to do, not ‘cause no one is paying enough attention to what’s happening to realize that I’m not being terribly productive and am, instead, spending hours upon silent hours behind my strategically positioned computer monitor.

The truth is that being paid to be a writer in any form may just be a pipe dream.  I read the writings of some of my bloggy heroes and feel like I can’t compare with their wit and depth.  Hell, some days (sometimes several consecutive ones) I can’t even think of anything to write about which is ironic to me, because last November I took part in and “won” the National Novel Writing Month challenge and managed to find something to write about, no matter how mundane, every day.

I have a very precarious list of items I try to fit into every day and sometimes (heh! Most days) I can’t fit them all in.

Sleeping: Sleeping is very important and the truth is I can rarely fit in enough of it.  I’m not a morning person and getting up to go to work takes a lot of effort.  That’s been discussed and no need to rehash it now, but the point is that I need to sleep later than I am able.  I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and I drag my sad ass through my morning routine of shit, shower and shave.  Due to recent developments, one or more of those items frequently falls by the wayside in the morning.  Once I do arrive at work, I spend half the morning fighting the urge to go back to sleep.  The real irony of this is that in the evenings I am not the least bit tired and I have no inclination to go to bed before 11:00 and quite frequently later than that.

Blog reading: I’ve found a number of witty, insightful, wise and otherwise awesome blog authors.  I like to read everything they write and I am inspired to be more like them when I do.  The problem with this is that if I don’t stay on top if it these blog posts can pile up very quickly.  After a week of considerable sporacity with my attention to my blog reader, I logged in on Monday morning to find that I had 126 unread posts to get through.  I set about working on them after a slow start and spent the whole day reading.  I know that the list grew as the day progressed but I managed to get the list down to about 45 by the time I went home.  I read some at home and finished up at work on Tuesday.

Blog writing: I’d like to be doing this everyday but as I mentioned I’m not always inspired and unless I’ve got something specific in mind to write about I find it easy to postpone that task which is not a good thing if I want to “hone my craft”.  I need to make more time for this.  Occasionally, I even make the time to do this at home on my own time.  That really gets in the way of some of the other activities though.

Television: For years I’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of television I watch and for a little while that was going well.  I even had a night or two each week where there was nothing on I cared about watching.  This season though, I’ve gotten sucked into a number of new shows, dammit!  I find that by the time I’ve gotten home from work, maybe done an hour worth of Wii Fit (which usually takes closer to an hour and a half), taken a shower, and made dinner, I only have time to get two or maybe three shows in before I’ve got to go to bed so I can start the whole damn thing over again the next day.  By the time the week-end comes I’m so backed up on weekly TV shows in the DVR that I’ve got to dedicate a chunk of time to clearing that out.  I usually have just barely managed to clear the week’s worth of shows out when the Sunday night shows start.  My television consumption has just about turned into a full time job.

Exercise: This is something I know I need to do but find so distasteful it’s not even funny.  I find it very easy to put other things at a higher priority than exercising.  I wish I felt differently about this.  I want to have the physique of someone who exercises as if his life depended on it (doesn’t it really?) but I don’t want to do the work that comes with that.  I try to at least spend some time on the Wii Fit when I get home from work but I find that when I do, I don’t end up getting around to eating dinner until close to 9:00 so I can’t help but wonder if the benefit I’m getting from making the effort isn’t over shadowed by the damage I’m doing by eating so late.  These last few days my weight has been back down to below 300 pounds (barely) but that’s the first time in quite awhile (and it’s not because I’ve been exercising.)

Hmmm.  It feels like I’m leaving something out.  What could that be?  Oh yes that’s right…

Work: Occasionally, it is necessary for me to actually do my job, the one I get paid for—well the one that’s in my actual job description.  My job is not by any stretch of the imagination, engaging enough to occupy 40 hours a week and as a result things often sit and collect dust until they become urgent and then I’ll actually give them my attention.  This is a terrible way to work  and I know it, but to be perfectly honest (and why stop now), I detest everything about my job so much that I just can’t muster the energy to give it more priority than the other things I’ve listed here.

It leaves me in a real pickle.  I really, truly, desperately want to find a new job…  Well, I really, truly, desperately want to quit this job anyway.  I’m not so sure I want another job, but not being of the independently wealthy persuasion, not working is not really an option for me.  So I don’t want to work at this job any more, but I can’t afford to be unemployed, and I don’t know what I want to do instead, not to mention that at this point with the current economy, I don’t really think there’s another job out there for me to be had, so I guess I’ll just have to make the best of it for the time being.

Wow, this is quite a side track from what I was going to write…  Which was what?  I don’t remember….

Oh that’s right, me sick, Swine Flu which is now H1N1 Flu and being at work (and no I don’t have Swine flu).  Sounds like a good distraction/inspiration for tomorrow.

Until then…

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Mama Said There’d be Days Like This

This was going to be the end of my previous post but it started feeling like it should stand alone.  This is more of the light hearted fare I’d like to be offering so enjoy this one with a drop of sunshine… or something.

For now, I’ll leave you with just a touch of what my day was like.  Actually, it really started yesterday when I slept till 1:00 in the afternoon and then sat around in my recliner, holding Mischa (whether I liked it or not) and catching up on all my weekly TV programs in my DVR (this doesn’t count the 20+ hours of movies – mostly from the Logo network – that are in there) and feeling sorry for myself.  That is just a hint of what I’ll be talking about with the “decisive happiness” topic I mentioned in my previous post.  I was sitting in this very spot really feeling down and I suddenly became aware that I was sulking and that it was getting the best of me.  Ultimately, I decided to give in to it and allow it to take over for one day, “Today I’ll let it in.  Tomorrow, I get back to living” I told myself.

By the time I went to bed I had a bad head ache and I was feeling really run down.  It may just be a coincidence or it may have been part of what they are talking about on those damn Cymbalta commercials that I hate so much, but I went to bed at 11:00 feeling lethargic and head achy but not really tired.  I fell asleep within 15 minutes nonetheless, but didn’t wake up until nearly 7:00 this morning.  It wasn’t enough time for me to get ready and get to work by 8:00 and I ended up sacrificing some of my needs (not the first time since this new regime started) and wasn’t able to shave my head or face (it’s been at least 5 days – and I’m not happy).  I really wasn’t feeling up to going to work (definite case of the Mondays) and seriously thought about calling in sick to work, but I didn’t, because I felt like it would be irresponsible (and I’m trying to save up my time so that when I do finally quit this shitty job, I’ll get a nice fat check on the way out the door.)

My drive to the office was riddled with ass hole drivers, (cutting me off, turning out in front of me or just having the audacity to go the speed limit in front of me.)  When I finally got to work I had to wait for what seemed like an eternity for the elevator to arrive.  It was 8:30 before I got to my desk and my stupid manager wasn’t even there to know whether or not I got there on time.

I had already made up my mind that today was going to be a slacker day (so sue me) and I was going to do as little work as possible while I caught up on my 125+ blogs that were waiting in my reader.  Naturally, I settled in behind my desk, pressed the power button on my computer and waited for it to power up.  I saw the initial DOS looking screens where it talks about starting up in safe or normal mode and then disaster struck.  The Windows XP logo came up, only I could barely see it.  It actually looked more like a ghost image, burned into my monitor except my monitor is LCD and I knew it wasn’t burned in because that image has never been up long enough to get the chance.  The screen was frozen and all I could see was the very faint image of the XP logo.

So I waited…  But nothing happened.  I waited some more… But nothing happened.  I turned the monitor off and back on to make sure it wasn’t the monitor that was the problem, but nope, when the monitor came back on, the built in start-up graphics were crisp and clean and bright.  And then I was back to the pale, burnt in looking image of the XP logo.

I pressed and held the power button on the computer. The computer shut off and then restarted.  Once again, I saw the DOS screens and then the Windows XP screen came up even paler than before.

So I waited… But nothing happened.  I waited some more…  But nothing happened.  I went around to the back of the computer and double checked the cords between the computer and the monitor, all tightly connected.

Having exhausted all my options I sat down and called the help desk.  I put in the ticket and waited for 20 minutes for the technician to call me.  Finally, K and I went to get coffee (a big mistake on its own.  I got a really delicious White Chocolate Mocha.  Way too delicious, way too fattening and way too expensive to make a habit of) and when we returned nothing had changed with my computer.  I checked my voice mail and there was no call from IT.

Thirty minutes later, my phone rang and I knew the name on the display to be a local Desktop Support Specialist.  He said he was on his way up to get the computer and he’d have to take it back to his desk to run a diagnostic on it.  (By the way, I got this computer brand new 10 days ago.)  A few minutes later he was standing in my door way.  Knowing he’d have to take the CPU away, I grasped the plug to my mouse which is plugged into the front of my computer and I pulled it out of the USB port.  Not a split second after I pulled the plug from the unit, the screen brightened up and the computer finished booting.

I have no idea, and neither does the IT guy, why this happened.  But for an hour this morning I was sure I was going to be without a computer today and I had left my book at home.  It was bound to be a long day!  But lo and behold, my computer magically fixed itself and I was able to get to “work” reading my blogs and I was a happy camper…  Well, as happy as I could be, considering where I was!

Pardon Me While I Rant

I spent the entire day reading blogs and now I want to update…  Only I’m not sure I have anything to update about.

I tend to feel like my posts have to be deep and philosophical, only I’m not so sure I’m really all that deep and philosophical… at least not with any regularity.  So today’s post is going to be shallow and trite… Well, OK.  It’s going to be simple anyway.

I eluded in my last post to being really pissed off about my job and my boss and most of my co-workers and my customers and my – well you get the idea.  As a rule of thumb, I try not to write about my real job if I can help it, in part because I do most of my blog post writing at said job where I should be doing other work entirely and so I figure it’s better not to admit to that (woops) and secondly because I have very little, if anything good anymore at all to say about it.  I think I’m going to have to at least touch on work though, so here goes.

My boss is an idiot.  Truly.  He’s a fool and he is the worst manager of people I’ve ever dealt with, and I’ve dealt with a few doozies in my time.  I work in the Facility Management office of a downtown Oakland, high rise office building of 25 floors, roughly half a million square feet of occupiable office space and nearly 2200 occupants.  That’s a lot of building to maintain, and I will not begrudge my stupid manager his talents in running the building.  He’s good at looking after systems and maintenance schedules and landscaping and so on and so forth.  What he is not good at is managing vendors, or people or relationships.

There are four people in my department besides myself; K, who you’ve all “met”, stupid manager, our Financial Analyst and our Conference Service Coordinator.  My stupid manager treats the Conference Service Coordinator and the Financial Analyst differently than he treats K and me.  And by differently, I mean better.  You see, the Conference Service Coordinator is the same age as my manager which is to say, they’re both very near the age of retirement.  She’s not bright at all, and while he’d never say it to her face (a true sign of a good leader) my stupid manager will not hesitate to admit that she’s not bright.  The Financial Analyst is the only person on staff, besides himself, who has a college degree and therefore, apparently, she is worthy of superior treatment.  With the exception of K and me (because we were friends before we worked together) no one likes each other.  We sit at our desks doing our work and with the exception of dealing with customers, there is absolute silence.  We do not like each other.  My stupid manager has interpreted this quiet to mean that everything is fine and there are no problems.

Up until last week my official office hours were 9 AM to 6 PM.  These are my official hours because my stupid manager told his boss’s admin that those were my hours.  Before that, as far as I knew my hours were 8:30 to 5:30.  I’ve resisted writing this because I’m afraid that I’ll come across sounding like a slacker or an irresponsible employee, and I may, but here’s the deal:

  1. I am not a morning person.  It is really difficult for me to get out of bed before 7:00 AM and if I could sleep till 9:00 AM every day I’d be a much happier person.

  2. I am salary which means I do not have to punch a clock and I do not get paid to work overtime.  As a result I do not get penalized if I work under time either, but that rarely ever happens.
  3. My duties have nothing to do with the day to day operations of our department and I don’t have any meetings that start before 9:00 or 9:30 and with a few very rare exceptions I’m never late for my meetings.
  4. My stupid manager is the one who once told me (not that I wasn’t already thinking it) that my job should never come before my life, and sometimes my life happens in the mornings.  (I have a 17 year old cat that occasionally needs to be cleaned up after in the mornings and by occasionally, I mean 3 or more days a week.)
  5. I have been in this job for seven years and I have been working this “9-6” shift for four or more of those years.

Recently there was an altercation in the office between some of the staff and my stupid manager just stood there and looked on as the Conference Service Coordinator stomped all over K and then proceeded to talk over both K and me as we tried to discuss what was happening.  It culminated in the Conference Service Coordinator talking over my stupid manager and then talking over me.  I responded by simply and calmly saying “[Conference Service Coordinator], you are talking over everyone.”  And that is all I said, to which she shouted at me, “Don’t you tell me not to talk.  You can ask me not to talk.  But you can’t tell me not to talk.”   As all this transpired, my stupid manager just stood there and didn’t do or say anything.

When I asked him about this later on he told me that all three of us were guilty of talking over each other (I completely disagree – K and I were incredibly cognizant of this specifically because Conference Service Coordinator was doing it) and that he wasn’t going to discuss it now “because [he was] still angry about how it had all gone down.”  He said we’d deal with it the following week.  Dealing with it the following week consisted of him telling us in the staff meeting that he wanted us to work it out, ‘cause that’s been going so well already.

Without getting bogged down in the details I’ll say that the conversation erupted into another bitch fest while my stupid manager just sat there and didn’t mediate in anyway.  I was verbally attacked by the Financial Analyst and my stupid manager didn’t say anything whatsoever.  I decided then and there that I was finished with the whole mess.  I’m tired of trying to get people to play nice together.  I’m tired of trying to point out problems to my stupid manager.  I’m tired of trusting him to make things right when he says he will just to be made the butt of the conflict time and again.

I’m sure I sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself, and if I were not me and I were reading this, I’d probably be full of skepticism about how the author is probably more responsible than he’s admitting to or how he’s the ‘cause of the problems, and honestly, I have tried to assume that’s true and look for ways that I’m the ‘cause of the problem.  I can’t think of anything.  I work for a man who does show favoritism, who is a hypocrite, who absolutely does not pay attention to what’s happening in his department and who shows absolutely no sensitivity to the needs of his staff.

After being attacked in the staff meeting, I was livid with my stupid manager for doing nothing and I was furious with the rest of the staff (except K) for the way they acted and treated me so I decided the best thing I could do for my sanity was to distance myself from the pack.  I went into my office and I closed the door and I didn’t open it again except to get a beverage or go to the restroom or go to lunch for the rest of the day and every day after that for two weeks.

The Friday before last I left work at 3:30 to take Mischa to the vet for a follow-up appointment.  As I was leaving the office, my stupid manager stopped me to ask me a couple questions.  This is another example of his poor management skills.  I told him three times on three separate days I was leaving at 3:30 on that Friday and yet he had sent me a calendar invitation to meet with him at 3:30 on that date to discuss upcoming projects.

Before I left he told me that he wanted me to start thinking about coming to work earlier than I had been doing and that he would like it if I kept my door open.  I told him I did not want to keep my door open, that I needed the distance from the rest of the staff.  His exact words to me were, “Well, think about it over the week-end.  Go take care of your cat.”

I arrived at work on the following Monday at roughly 9:15 AM.  I went into my office and closed the door and sat down at my computer to get to work.  At about 10:15 AM, my stupid manager came to my office, opened the door and told me through gritted teeth, “I told you I wanted you to be here at 8:00.  That wasn’t a request.  And I told you I wanted you to keep your door open.”  I told him again I did not want my door open.  I wanted it closed where it was quiet and peaceful.  He told me, “When you keep your door closed it comes across as if you’re trying to say you’re better than everyone else and you’re trying to separate yourself from the group.”

I told him, “I’m not saying I’m better than everyone else, and I am trying to separate myself from the group.  I don’t want to be a part of this group.”  He asked me why and I said, “Because the atmosphere around here is bad and you’re the only one who can do anything about it and you won’t so I need to protect myself from it.”  He asked me what I was talking about and said he didn’t see that there were any major problems.  He said he didn’t think it was true and that there were minor problems that could be dealt with (perhaps they can, but it won’t happen.)  He told me that I wasn’t allowed to close my door unless I was on a conference call or it was noisy in the main office and I needed to concentrate on something.  Since one of the things I’ve been complaining to him about for more than a year is the fact that the person who sits right outside my office door is noisy and disruptive, this is kind of the on-going problem and part of the reason for the closed door but apparently I’m no longer allowed to judge for myself when it’s too noisy for me and when it’s not.

That was a really long-winded explanation to say that for the last week I’ve been really pissed off at work and, honestly, I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.  Meanwhile, my stupid manager is trying to act like nothing ever happened and everything is fine.  He’s been trying to get me to have lunch with him for the last week, but it hasn’t been possible.  I’m glad, because I don’t want to have lunch with him and as much as I’d prefer not to be put on the spot, I’m going to tell him, “Thanks, but no thanks” If it comes down to it.

He came into my office on Tuesday, (the day after the gritted toothed reprimand) and told me that his boss’s boss just informed him that he wants him to have an “Heir Apparent” and that he would like to talk to me about that.  Hmmm.  Let’s see.  Work more closely with my stupid manager than I already do.  Be forced to be even more publicly visible in a company I really do hate, so that I can be expected to play the office political game even more than I already am, for, most likely no more money and the same title I already have.  Ooo, ahhh, ummm…. NO THANKS!!!

Anyway, I’ve been so frustrated with work and that whole situation that I’ve found it really hard to be more light-hearted and pleasant resulting in another five day silence on my blog and little to no activity on Twitter.  Tragic I know!

There have been a lot of things going on in my head regarding potential topics of blog posts and I may or may not get to all of them, but I figured I’d better get this, this… rant is the only word that comes to mind, out of the way!

Some things you can look forward to in future posts:

  • Why Riggledo hasn’t addressed the Fad of the Month or any progress on weight loss/fitness goals

  • Guilty Pleasure TV programs
  • Healthy Selfishness
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters
  • Summer vacation plans (possibly from hell)
  • Decisive Happiness
  • The word “Should” and why we should use it less

Moving Right Along

OMG!!!!  OK.  I was going to write a post today about how I’m frustrated that I haven’t written in five days and how I really want to write something but I want it to be fun and spiffy and make you laugh and be uplifted and happy but I can’t do that because I’m just so pissed off about a situation at work that I really don’t even want to talk about but would probably have to in order to get it out of my head and off my chest and beg your forgiveness for spewing so much anger (read: hate) and vitriol for my boss and most of my coworkers and my customers and my job and my employer and my life during that part of the day and it was not going to be one big run on sentence like this has been but now I have something else entirely that I have to address and really this is a good thing…  <passes out from lack of breathing.>

I didn’t watch the Miss USA pageant.  I may not be living up to my stereotype because of this and that’s funny to me because when I was young and “straight” and living with my conservative, republican, Christian mother we watched the beauty pageants all the time.  There were chicks in bikinis after all and maybe that proved I was straight… to someone.  Anyway, I’ve outgrown my keen interest in such things and decided I have too many shows piling up in my DVR as it is and I was not going to watch the pageant.  So naturally, I missed a big moment because I wasn’t watching…  Well, I don’t guess I can say I missed a big moment because you can hardly shake your ass without bumping into a news “story” (more like non-story) about Miss California’s response to stupid Perez Hilton’s question about her position on Gay Marriage.

I would have thought that, here, three days later, this would be old news and I’d be behind the times. Sadly, not so much.  You see, the multi-hair-colored troll, to whom no one should be listening and should never have been given a slot as a judge at the pageant in the first place, asked the contestant a perfectly legitimate question, but, she gave a perfectly legitimate answer and she should not be hassled, harangued or otherwise criticized for her response.  Hilton has been quoted as saying that she should have left her politics & religion out of her answer.  The midget asked her a political question, how could she have answered it any way other than with her politics?  And let’s not kid ourselves; everyone knows that our politics are influenced by our religion.  Truly, Miss California could not possibly have answered that question any way other than how she did.

Perez Hilton has made a living out of hate mongering and slander and now he wants to hold Miss California accountable for expressing her true feelings and beliefs in response to a question he asked which was clearly designed to promote his own agenda and beliefs.

Many people seem to have lost sight of the true meaning of the interview portion of the competition.  There was no right or wrong answer to Mr. Hilton’s question.  The judges are not in a position to judge the worthiness of the contestants’ belief system and how it may or may not live up to the expectations, or message of the Miss USA organization.  If the expectation of the organization is for the individual ladies to live up to a certain belief structure, well… First of all, that changes the nature of the organization and turns it into a political lobby or maybe an occult of some sort.  (You must believe the way I believe or you can’t be here…  Wait, that sounds like a lot of churches I’ve been to.)  And second, the organization would have an obligation to establish those expectations up front and screen the contestants prior to the competition, accordingly.  No, the point of the interview portion is not to establish the political/religious beliefs of the contestants.  The point of the interview portion is to test the ladies’ ability to respond under pressure, with grace and eloquence, to questions they have not been privy to in advance.  Can the contestant speak clearly and logically in providing a response to a question they have not heard before?  That the answer provided by Miss California might have cost her the crown, based on content, is a sadder reflection on the judges of the evening than it will ever be on Miss California.

Let me be clear.  I do not agree with the beliefs that were expressed by Miss California.  I feel sad for her that she believes such hurtful things, that she apparently has accepted the beliefs of her family unquestioningly, as evidenced by her answer:

“I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.  No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be, between a man and a woman.”

Too often, as gay people seeking equality, we drift to the other side and wish to criticize and demean anyone who doesn’t agree with our perspectives.  We’re quick to forget that just as we believe with such conviction that our perspective is the correct one, so do the conservative Christians believe theirs’ to be.  We will never come to an understanding or agreement by calling each other names and I must point out that Miss California expressed her desire not to offend anyone and stated somewhere that she does not begrudge homosexuals (that’s more than we’ll get from a lot of conservative Christians) but does not believe that marriage should be available to us.  On the other hand Mr. Hilton went on record almost as soon as the crown was placed, the tears were shed and the hugs were dispensed, as saying that Miss California is a “dumb bitch” and has continued to spread his vitriol about this poor woman and her beliefs ever since.

Maybe it’s because I’m relatively “young” and new to this whole accepting-myself-as-a-homosexual thing and I haven’t (at least not yet) been through the pain, the struggle, the fight to be accepted for who and what I am (I’m sure that day is coming as I’m not 100% out of the closet to everyone I know or ever encounter) but I do not understand the drive, the push to be angry at this woman for having the audacity to speak her truth, to say what she believes when she was asked a pointed question on the subject.

I grew up in Conservative, Republican, Christian household and have had a series of “coming outs” in my life, first as a “Liberal Republican” then as a “Conservative Democrat” and then as a “Liberal Democrat” and finally, coming out to myself and my closest friends as a homosexual, all while holding on to my own personal Christian belief system.  I have a lot of experience with separating my religious beliefs from my political ones.  As one example, I personally believe it is wrong to have an abortion.  I also believe that abortion should be legal and the option should exist.  I would like to see abortions not available because the clinics can’t afford to stay in business with so few customers, not because someone arbitrarily decided to tell women what they could or could not do with their bodies.

So, do I believe that the sentiments she expressed are wrong?  Yes!  Do I hope that she and so many others eventually will change their perspectives and accept us for who and what we are?  Absolutely!!!  But this is what she believes, and she is not wrong for believing it or for expressing it.  This is the question she was asked and bravo to her for answering it honestly!

Let’s leave poor Miss California alone and focus our energies in a direction that matters, like the fight for marriage equality and for equality in general.  This Miss California thing?  It’s really not news.  Please!  Let’s move on!

Riggledo’s Story: Mischa

I was diagnosed with clinical depression about six years ago.  I “have” what would be considered the most common form of clinical depression called Dysthymia.  Dysthymia, by definition is a “low-grade” depression that is always there, but not debilitating.  Occasionally, people with Dysthymia experience periods of major or more severe depression.  About a year and a half ago, this happened to me.

I was never suicidal, but that statement shouldn’t be misinterpreted to suggest that my depression at that time wasn’t severe.  It was a matter of nerve and a modicum of rational thinking.  I am afraid of pain.  I’m a painaphobe.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to die, because I really did.  But I wasn’t going to kill myself because I was afraid that it would hurt.  I was afraid I’d screw it up and I wouldn’t actually die, I’d just suffer a lot of pain.  Oh yeah, and I was afraid I’d go to hell and well, that would be bad.  No, I hoped I’d be in an instantly fatal car crash or that I’d be murdered in some way that would kill me instantly and painlessly or that I’d fall asleep and somehow accidentally bury my face in my pillow and suffocate, instantly and painlessly.  I can’t emphasize enough, how important the instant and painless part was.

But even as I was feeling this way, truly wishing to not have to suffer through this torture I called a life, there was always a reason why that couldn’t be allowed to happen.  There was always something that despite my incredible despair and anguish, always kept me coming back around and remembering that I had to be here.  I would sit in my chair, feet up, television on, me staring blankly at the screen and feeling like I would bawl if only that first tear would come, heaving heavy, heavy sighs and wishing that I’d just… cease.  And then I’d hear it.  The little pitter patter.  The clickity clack of little toe nails on the hard wood floor.  And I’d hear the quite sound of his voice as he would jump up to my lap and walk right up to my face with a look on his face that told me he knew I was hurting and he would help me if he could but I couldn‘t die because he needed me.  Who would take care of him?  Who would feed him?  Who would provide him with a lap to lie in if I was to die? And then he’d lie down on my lap. He’d lie down on my lap and sleep and just be. His name is Mischa and, say what you will, but it was he who pulled me through.  It was he who made me remember that life is about more than just me.  Life is a sum of many parts.  I won’t pretend that I have it all figured out and then try to educate you.  I’m simply going to say that life is as much about the people in your life (yes, people, even the furry four-legged variety), as it is about ourselves and our own selfish worries and complaints.

Mischa has been with me since the summer before my senior year in high school.  He’s a brat and he’s bad and he’s ornery and he’s precious and loving and full of personality and he’s mine.  He’s a fixture in my life and I can’t imagine my world without him in it.  And that’s why the last two weeks or so have been really difficult.

It actually started about six months ago when he stopped eating, and started vomiting frequently.  He wasn’t drinking very much water, and he stopped moving his bowels. After four or five days of this and the vomit becoming nothing more than clear liquid, it was apparent that he wasn’t going to improve on his own and I took him to the vet.  One I’d never been to before but was recommended to me.  One who turned out to be very cute (and unfortunately, very married, if the ring on his finger is to be trusted).

Without going into too much detail (too late?) Dr. Cute Vet found that Mischa was dehydrated but otherwise showed no outward, obvious signs of illness.  They gave him a sub-cutaneous saline bubble which he absorbed almost right away and which perked him up instantly.  Blood and Urine tests revealed no abnormalities but after a couple days on a diet of baby food he resumed eating normal cat food (wet now and not the dry he’d had his whole life) and everything seemed back to normal…

Last week I noticed that he wasn’t eating as much of his food as he had previously done and after a few days of half-hearted scolding and throwing away most of the food I’d provided I made another appointment.  Monday morning Mischa and I went to see Dr. Cute Vet and it was déjà vu all over again!  Ran the same tests.  Gave him the same sub-cutaneous bubble.  This time, though, they also gave me three cans of a “prescription” cat food.  Mischa hasn’t caught on to this or he might refuse to touch the stuff but the food they gave me is feline and canine food.  It’s a formula that they typically use when they have to force feed an animal, so it’s very thin but a “whole food” for his nutritional needs.

We came home and I opened up a can of that food, put some in his bowl and without hesitation he went to town.  He ate an entire can of this food on Monday so Tuesday morning I gave him a can of his old food in the hopes that he’d gotten over his issue.  I came home from work Tuesday and he hadn’t touched it, so I gave him the new food and he chowed down.  Tuesday evening Dr. Cute Vet called me to give me the results of his lab tests which were that everything was normal.  The next step was to do x-rays which I scheduled for this afternoon.  I wish I hadn’t.

When I walked into the building there were three women in the waiting area speaking in Spanish with one of the nurses/office staff.  After a minute or two, someone came out of the back with a small-ish breed dog, wrapped in a towel and looking forlorn.  He held the dog out to the oldest of the three ladies and then I heard the nurse say, “She changed her mind.  She’s going to have him put down.”  The dog had been attacked by a larger dog and had a severe wound in its neck.  This was explained to me by the other nurse/office staff person who took Mischa and me into Exam room 1.  I was grateful for this because I didn’t think I could handle being in the waiting room when the gentleman brought the euthanized dog back to the ladies.  The animal’s wound was treatable but costly, and the decision was made to euthanize him instead.  This made me angry and it makes me angry all over again now.

Standing in the waiting room, waiting for the nurse to conclude the business with these ladies and get to me, holding the cat carrier bag in my hand and hearing the nurse say, “They’ve decided to have him put down” was like a stab in the heart for me.   You see, the day is coming when I’ll have to make that decision for Mischa.  To quote Captain Piccard, “There are fewer days ahead than there are behind.”

It won’t be the first time I’ve had a pet that’s reached the end of its happy, healthy days and must, for the sake of humanity, be allowed to slip away from its painful existence.  Over my 33 years of life, there have been seven or eight.  But when that time comes for Mischa, and it is coming, it will be the first time that I will have to be the one to make that decision.  It will be the first time that I will have to carry my beloved companion into the office, hear the tragic conclusion of the doctor’s evaluation and concede that I must, indeed, allow him to be freed from his pain.  It will be the first time that an animal that has placed his trust and love and life in my hands will then lie in my arms and look into my eyes as it breathes its last breath.

I am not prepared.  My heart is breaking a little right now as I write this and I’m a little surprised to find tears flowing at this very moment.  With these last two experiences of his health being less than ideal and having to plod through the experience of waiting, of not knowing, of worrying, I’ve had lots of time to think about the what-ifs.  I’ve had time to  consider that I might have to make this decision today.  This might be the day I leave the house with him and come home without him. I can’t say that I thought I was ready, because I know I’m not.  I can’t say I know exactly what I’m going to do.

The good news is that Mischa has continued to eat well on the food they gave me.  His coat actually looks better and healthier than it has in the last six months which suggests that the food I’ve been feeding him (highly respected brand though it is) has not been doing it for him.  He has become energetic again even spending a little time playing with his toys. In visiting with Dr. Cute Vet before the planned x-rays I was conveying the changes in Mischa’s behavior since Monday and said, “Actually, he seems like he’s doing really well.  He’s eating much better.  He’s gotten more energetic and he’s even playing with his balls again.”

There are four small-ish, faux fur covered balls with bells inside floating around my house and occasionally Mischa takes to chasing one.  Even before the sentence was out of my mouth I realized what I was saying and I’m sure my entire shaved  head was bright red as I said, “Well that didn’t sound good at all.”  To his credit, Dr. Cute Vet was completely nonplussed by my blunder.  It was actually a nice moment of levity following the experience I’d had in the waiting room.

After re-examining Mischa and hearing of his improvements, Dr. Cute Vet suggested that maybe we should hold off on the x-rays and wait to see how he does.  If he takes a turn for the worse we’ll go back, otherwise, we won’t bother.  And if, God forbid there should be a next time, we will do the x-rays then.

According to the chart on the wall at Cute Vet’s office, Mischa who has lived for 17 calendar years is the equivalent of an 82 year old human, and honestly for 82, he’s looking pretty good.  But at 82 years old, things can change in the blink of an eye.  The day is coming.  I just hope I’m ready.

I’m All Aflutter

My heart is aflutter.  It may be the asthma medicine I just inhaled that always makes me jittery.  On the other hand it may be my nerves.  You see, I just had a thought.  And, well, that in itself is an accomplishment, but even more aflutter making, is what the thought was.  But I’m getting ahead of myself a little.  Let me share with you something I wrote six months ago on an old blog:

“Hi.  I’m Jesse.  I’ve been assigned to walk around with you during the fire drills” he said.  He’s a rookie firefighter.  Been on the job for three years.  Can’t be much more than 26-27 years old.  He’s 6′2″ ish with piercing blue eyes the color of the sky.

I work for the Facility Management office of a 25 story high-rise building in the Lake Merritt district of Downtown Oakland, California.  Twice a year we conduct Fire Drills and we always invite a crew from the Fire Department to come and observe.  My boss always assigns a fire fighter to the staff members and today I got Jesse.

In the fourth and final segment of today’s drills I was assigned to the fourth floor for observation where I saw an old acquaintance of mine searching the floor for stragglers.  Her name is Connee and she’s from Niagara Falls, NY.  I LOVE her.  She’s a sweet little older lady who has always been very nice to me.  After searching and then evacuating the floor we met up in the park across the street where we waited for the announcement that it was time to return to the building.  I was chatting with her when Jesse returned to my side and she asked, “What’s your name Mr. Gorgeous Blue Eyes?”

“Kevin.”  Jesse answered.  “Just kidding.  I’m Jesse.”

Connee laughed.  “Oh I thought you were going to tell me you both had the same name.”

“Wait,” I said.  “Does that mean I have Gorgeous blue eyes, too? –  Never mind.”

“Yep.  That’s what I was saying.” He replied.

Now you see, this is where I fall short as a “newly” gay man.  This guy was cute.  I liked him.  I’d have been interested in talking to him more.  But I never thought he was gay.  Still don’t know that he is.  But here’s what his comment suggests to me.  He thought I had nice eyes.  Had been thinking it all along, and Connee gave him an opportunity to bring it up and see what happens.  But because I’m insecure, and an idiot nothing happened.  I don’t know how to react in a situation like that?

So I’m looking for advice.  What should I have done?  And I’m seriously asking, so no smart ass, “You shoulda jumped on top of him” kind of responses.  How could have I have conveyed to him that I was interested without making the scene crunchy if I had misinterpreted his statement?

What, Mr. Reader, would you have done?

I was so caught off guard when he said what he did.  I couldn’t believe it was happening and was sure I was misreading something.  That night I had a therapy session and I talked about what happened.  My therapist said to me, “For future reference, when a guy says you have nice eyes, he is flirting”

So what is it that set me aflutter?  We are due for our semi-annual fire drills next week. As I mentioned in the post above, my boss always pairs one of the fire fighters with one of his staff members for the drills.  It’s almost always a different set of guys (occasionally a gal) so there’s no reason to think Jesse will be here and if he is, I may or may not get paired up with him again.  But the thought suddenly occurred to me, a moment ago, that I might see Jesse again.

What set me aflutter is the idea that I might get a second chance at this, and the realization that I’m not any more prepared to handle it now than I was then.

Also, what might have me aflutter is the fact that I’ve used the world “aflutter” six times in this post.