(no subject)

Feb. 24th, 2017 11:54 am
pantryslut: (Default)
[personal profile] pantryslut
I just did a quick read of Girl Trouble, an "illustrated memoir" of female friendships by Kerry Cohen illustrated by her older sister, Tyler. It's really good. It's got me thinking about my own friendships, or sometimes lack thereof. I think [livejournal.com profile] debbieann in particular would enjoy this book.

(no subject)

Feb. 24th, 2017 02:03 am
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
[personal profile] julian
Also, in order to go to the trans* support rally, I missed a Non-Violent Intervention session, aka, how to intervene and defuse incidents of hate. (At the Roslindale Library. Seems to have been part of Black History Month.)

I figured it was a worthwhile trade-off.

Of course, as the rally-that-turned-into-a-march stopped in Downtown Crossing, which for non-Bostonites is a tourist destination in the daytime and still somewhat full of people by 7 p.m., some guy passing through asked me, "Are you a tranny?" and I said, confused, "No?" in tones that I hope indicated I was just baffled at his assumption, not offended or threatened. And then, since he was heading away at speed, I yelled after him, "But so what if I was?" which is not the best response ever, but better than none.

But still, indicative that defusing tips are never amiss. I'll find another session eventually....8

transitional states

Feb. 24th, 2017 12:41 am
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
[personal profile] julian
So no matter what happens with my job (it's still in flux; this is annoying), I'm (probably, quite likely) going back to school anyway.

I'd gotten about 3/5ths of the way through Lesley, and then (I say vaguely) several annoying things happened with classes, and also, I let lack of structure surrounding the internships mess up my momentum. Then I avoided for awhile, and then I avoided my parents about it, and then I avoided the avoiding for like, years, and then I felt bad about avoiding, and then! I said to myself, when my job was more in flux than it is now, "Hey, I could just... restart from the Associate's degree credits," and am now mostly through applying to Cambridge College, which is basically one step up from a community college, BUT, it has Human Services/Counseling/Psych stuff, and a good diverse bunch of adult students, and I can do 3-4 classes at once, keep momentum and structure up, kick arse, and contemplate grad school. Maybe. First let us see if Cambridge works, and go from there.

Presuming I get through taxes and FAFSA stuff by the end of March, I should be starting in June. (Presuming they let me in, knock wood.)

I went over to Lesley and got an unofficial transcript, today, just to make sure my fuckuppery was as thorough as I thought it was, and yes, my GPA had gotten down to 2.9 and there are Incompletes dotting the landscape, so I feel more content about this, and the not-transferring the credits. (And I also have been doing Thoughts about how not to repeat mistakes, which mostly boils down to, "I will not let myself shirk structures built by classes and momentum.")

Then I went and yelled a lot about protecting trans kids and other trans folks, over at the rally in Boston. Massachusetts folks, Sovay said at the rally and also says on her LJ, to call your State Reps about House Bill 97, which would ban aversive therapies for teenagers, aka conversion therapy.

Edit: Oh, hey, she wrote up the rally, too!. Quite thoroughly.

Pondering families

Feb. 23rd, 2017 08:56 pm
wcg: (Default)
[personal profile] wcg
I've just recently finished REAMDE by Neal Stephenson.

It is, like most of Stephenson's books, a huge tome of over 1000 pages, with super smart tech geniuses in far flung parts of the world. But it's also a story about a family, and that's what inspired me to write this post.

Some few of you reading this may have read Louis L'amour's western novels about the Sackett family. Although L'amour wrote much tighter, shorter stories than Stephenson, I found myself wondering if Stephenson might have read L'amour at some point. Stephenson's Forthrast family (and his Shaftoe family in earlier books) is very like the Sacketts, in that if you tangle with one of them, you tangle with all of them. Furthermore, they have vast networks of friends who they can call on for assistance in time of need.

Zula Forthrast is a 25 year old Eritrean orphan refugee who was adopted into the Forthrast family after having spent the first 10 odd years of her life trudging back and forth between refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan. As the daughter of the almost painfully midwestern Forthrasts, she has grown up with a firm grounding in Midwest Nice behavior and a practical education in the maintenance and repair of all things mechanical and electronic, with the sort of easy familiarity around firearms that you can find in people who've grown up on farms in fly-over country. When we meet her she's a newly minted PhD in geo-engineering, looking for a job in her field. Her uncle, Richard, the major PoV character in the story, arranges for her to be hired by someone in the MMORPG corporation he founded.

Zula moves off to Seattle, gets into a relationship with an IT guy named Peter, and is enjoying a weekend with Peter at uncle Richard's ski resort in British Columbia when Peter makes a very bad mistake. It begins with him downloading a file named REAMDE (not README) to his laptop, and then inadvertently including REAMDE with a spreadsheet full of stolen credit card data that he sells to a broker in such things who it turns out was working for a Russian criminal cartel. In short order Peter and Zula are taken hostage by the Russian mob boss when the REAMDE file turns out to be ransomware that locks up all his files.

This leads to a global adventure involving a wide variety of very interesting characters, a whole lot of mayhem, and an eventual showdown between the Forthrast family and the evil miscreants who would harm one of their own. It reminded me, as the pages turned, of the denoument of The Sackett Brand, where Sacketts streamed into the Arizona high country answering a distress call from one of their own, and the Hash Knife Gang got mowed down in windrows before them.

Yeah, it's a great book. If you fancy a thousand odd pages of techno thriller, grab a copy and dive in.

But, more to my point, I'm wondering if such families really exist in our present day. I know L'Amour was inspired to create the Sacketts based on a real family he met in New Mexico back in the 1950s, but that was almost 70 years ago. Given the forces that have scattered families hither and yon across the US and the world, I wonder if there are any real families like the Forthrasts out there. When I think of my own eight siblings, I know we're just not that tight. I'm even less connected to my far flung cousins.

Do any of you know real life families who would come together in time of trouble, risking their lives and fortunes to help one of their own who'd run afoul of powerful enemies?

"It's so hard to say goodbye"

Feb. 23rd, 2017 01:17 am
rosefox: An adorable white toddler wearing an adult's grey flatcap (kit)
[personal profile] rosefox
Kit's developing some separation anxiety (yes, only now, at nearly 14 months!) and started crying tonight when we began the bedtime routine because bedtime means saying goodnight and everyone going away. We still did what we always do: big family hug, two parents say night-night and leave, and the third reads stories and provides cuddles and puts the baby in the crib. They clung to all of us during goodnight hugs, glumly (and sleepily) submitted to storytime, and finally fell asleep after only a little more fussing. Then we all sat around feeling heartbroken because it is so hard to see the baby so sad.

Tonight's bedtime story was No Matter What, by sheer coincidence; I spotted it while Kit was demolishing their bookshelf (a favorite activity) and realized we hadn't read it in ages. I'm never sure how much Kit understands of the actual words we say, but I think the meaning was clear, especially with the way I kept kissing and hugging them as I read. And I think it helped.

They've started getting upset when books end, too. We always have to open the book again to reassure them that the story is still there and they can reread it whenever they want. Sometimes they flip through it to find a favorite page before reluctantly accepting that the book is done. When we let them turn pages, they turn them really fast, without waiting for us to finish reading any text; one long look at the images on the page and then it's on to the next. It's so very like the way I blaze through books and then feel disappointed when they're done that it makes me laugh every time.

Kit endured their first ear infection this week, poor thing, and has been taking amoxicillin for it. As soon as they started on the antibiotics, their fever went away entirely and their vigor and appetite returned. (Their first full day of betterness ended with them not being able to fall asleep until 11 p.m. because all the energy they'd lacked while ill came roaring back with a vengeance. Fortunately that was a one-time thing and they're back on their usual sleep schedule.) I'm so glad for our access to good medical care, and also extremely glad to have a baby who sucks obediently on medication syringes, even when they hate the taste of the medicine, and doesn't appear to have allergies to anything. We were all very relieved that they went back to daycare today, because five days in a row of sick (and then recovering) baby at home was very challenging for all of us, especially as we were dealing with another family crisis at the same time. As always, I have no idea how single and stay-at-home parents do it. No idea whatsoever.

We're all quite convinced that Kit has psychic powers that only activate when they're asleep. Whenever X goes to bed—which doesn't happen at the same time every night—Kit sleep-fusses just enough to set off the monitor. Just now I returned to writing this entry after a while of doing other things, and Kit promptly made a few tiny noises. So I'm thinking at them as hard as I can: See, silly baby, I told you that we think of you even when you're not right in front of us. Rest now. No one is too far away, and we'll always be there when you need us.


Feb. 22nd, 2017 09:47 pm
kayre: (Default)
[personal profile] kayre
Sunday was sunny and warming, so I went walking in a large park nearby. When I got back in the car, the bright sunlight on my windshield suddenly made me see, backwards, "10*16" twice. Registration and inspection, both expired last October. Yikes!

I drove home carefully, and got on the internet to see what to do next. The answer was inspection first, so early Monday morning I called our mechanic and got a 1 pm appointment. I drove myself to work, then dropped off the car (pastor drove me home). I knew that at 130k miles, it wasn't likely to pass inspection straight off, and I was right-- I got a call that work was needed on the front suspension. Yesterday I got yet another call, that work was going slowly and the car still wasn't done.

Today I drove hubby to work and kept our other car. After lunch I finally got the call that mine was finished. I drove in, paid for it and picked up the keys. The mechanic was kind enough to give me a small discount and a free oil change to make up for the car-free days.

Next step was to renew the registration. I tried to do it online but the system wouldn't cooperate, so I headed across town to the DMV. I was nervous, as there was potentially a huge fine for being so late. I explained that I was sure I hadn't received the renewal paperwork, though that doesn't really excuse not noticing the stickers for so long. The clerk noted that my address had been changed a year ago, and asked if I had changed it on the registration as well... no, that had never occurred to me. She waived the fine! So now I have the sticker and am legal again. (I asked how to fix the online problems and the clerk replied, "I really wouldn't bother, the system has so many problems. Probably 2/3 of the people I work with say they tried online first.")

I spent the next few hours clearing up a banking snafu (new ATM cards that never arrived), walking, and finally having a relaxing dinner, before picking up my car at last.

(no subject)

Feb. 21st, 2017 06:47 am
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
[personal profile] elainegrey
I survived the day of the chipper with only more scratches on my arms and legs. And a thorn went through my glove and lodged in my thumb. And another thorn ripped my pants. Fie, autumn olive is quite the nemesis. And i felt a particular delight wrestling the fans of the large shrubs into the maw and watching it spray out the chips. I am delighted with the amount of chips we have to use. I put tarps, sheets, and the wagon in the way of the spray, and so had a full wagon to distribute yesterday evening. Getting more loads into the wagon will be less fun, but i am glad about the foresight of laying out the tarps.

They're not light.

Last night when i took Carrie out i could hear deer browsing about in the underbrush: three, i'm fairly sure. Carrie eventually barked in indignation, and the deer seemed not to care. Later i came back out, turned on the light, and called for Carrie -- this did cause a bit of crashing around. Deer are loud.


Feb. 20th, 2017 12:47 am
rosefox: "You mean the girls were topless the whole time and I never noticed?" (oblivious)
[personal profile] rosefox
Thanks to a link from [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch, today I learned about queerplatonic relationships (a term coined in 2010 by [personal profile] kaz and [personal profile] meloukhia) and spent several hours going "WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THERE'S A NAME FOR WHAT I DO". A good primer is here and a post on QP not being "romance-lite" is here. I want to quote both of them at length. I want to hug them. This is amazing.

I'm not aro or ace. But there is absolutely a third category of relationship in my life, in addition to partnership and friendship. I've been calling it "partner-level friends" or "my [name]" because I didn't have a word for it. And now I do. Wow. I haven't felt this seen since I read the relationship anarchy manifesto. (Which is very relevant.)

While discussing this with a friend, he asked how "romantic" was being defined, since both "aromantic" and "platonic" were being defined in opposition to it, and I realized I didn't have a good answer. (Merriam-Webster doesn't either. Their definition of "romantic" points to "romance", which points to "love affair", which points back to "romantic".) After some discussion on Twitter, [twitter.com profile] numbathyal pointed me to this piece by a possible aromantic who asked a romantic to define romance. The definition that came out of their conversation was: "Romance is a natural high that occurs in the presence of certain people, without obvious connection to sexuality, 'good company', or emotional intimacy." That jibes pretty well with my experience, which I described as follows:
When I look at people I'm in love with, my body responds. My heart swells—that's literally a feeling I get in my chest, not a metaphor. My heart rate goes up and I feel a little breathless. My pupils probably dilate. I want to be physically touching the person in some way. I'm SUPER touchy-feely with X and J. Constant small touches as I walk past them. Always sitting as near as I can get.

When I look at people I'm in QP relationships with, I have a different set of reactions. Hardly any physical reaction at all. I do like hugging them, but I don't feel the same urge to be in contact. I get much more of a squee reaction. My brain lights up. It's still something I would call chemistry, but a different kind of chemical reaction.

Things romantic and QP relationships have in common for me: I feel a profound sense of safety. I can relax around the person. I say "I love you" and it's never by rote. I want regular communication of some sort. I feel more myself in the person's company.

All of this is shaped by my tendency toward feeling very definitely like I "click" with certain people. Often upon meeting them. A little alert box pops up that says "You and this person could have something amazing together! Pursue it!". I can tell you the exact moment that happened with both X and J, and with all four of my QP people. So I don't know what "romantic" looks like for people who don't have that zing or sniff test or instalove or whatever you want to call it. I spent literal months knowing I was going to fall in love with J and waiting for it to happen. Had to WD40 the "in love" switch. But it finally flipped hard and has never flipped back. <3

This is also not what my romantic relationships looked like when I was in my teens or 20s. Much healthier now. :) Twenty years ago, desperate longing to be loved and valued was part and parcel of romance for me. Now I love myself.
Some of the useful links that came up in conversation (h/t [twitter.com profile] tgstonebutch and [twitter.com profile] numbathyal):

Sexuality and romance as pet elephants that are invisible to ace and aro people
Limerence and "platonic attraction"
How to write about queerplatonic relationships in fiction (lots and lots of useful links there)
Various concepts of greyromanticism

I was amused to choose "oblivious" as the userpic keyword and have this userpic come up, because at first it seemed totally inappropriate for a post discussing nonsexual relationships. In its original context (Sluggy Freelance, if anyone remembers it), it's being said by a guy who is very into topless women and sad that he missed a chance to ogle some. But I've always used it because I am genuinely the sort of person to not really notice that an attractive woman is topless, because we're too busy talking about other things and connecting on other levels. So maybe it's appropriate after all.

A couple of recent images

Feb. 19th, 2017 08:38 pm
wcg: (Default)
[personal profile] wcg
Greetings from the Undisclosed Location, somewhere in the desert southwest, where I'm working on my tan by day and continuing my remote observing efforts by night. It would be nice if I could observe directly from here, but it's been cloudy every night since we arrived, and rainy yesterday and today.

Read more... )

Weekend Fire Starter

Feb. 18th, 2017 03:55 pm
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
[personal profile] elainegrey
I lingered a bit longer inside than i meant to Saturday morning. We're trying to let Carrie out of the front room at night, but in the wee hours of Saturday she slipped under the baby gate to make a raid on the kitty litter cabinet. Fortunately the cabinet doors made a sound to wake us as she tried to get in, so i was able to scoop her up and deposit her in the front room. Last night she seemed to stay on the couch all night.

I thought lingering might be a good idea, as it had gotten down to almost freezing last night. My suspicion was confirmed in the garage, as it was 40°F when i went out. But no, i had lingered too long because outside of the garage it was 60°F.

My great pile of brush went up in flames very quickly, no struggle getting it started. While it burnt i cut down a bunch of autumn olive and pulled down honeysuckle. There's now a tidy patch of woods beyond the screened in back porch. The honeysuckle is definitely greening up. I've found the young yet very long shoots of autumn olive flexible and have made a loose "fence" from the "whips" for the peas to climb. I am not making a super-tidy construct: i hope its irregularity is more charming than sloppy, in a wabi-sabi sort of way.

In the front, the pink saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) is suddenly exposing lipstick pink buds. I'm sure they weren't there yesterday. I've forced some branches -- not as attractive as other forced branches, but they're what i have. The next ten days look terribly pleasant and mild. I don't suppose i can go shouting around "another month and a half till average last frost" to the plants. Instead, i have created a form to use to log the status of all the plants, in an attempt to capture first and last bloom dates, etc.

Today i ponder another fire on the other side of the house. There's also the annual meeting of the county history association, which is tempting. Monday is the chipper.

(no subject)

Feb. 17th, 2017 09:02 am
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
[personal profile] elainegrey
Yesterday we came back from a disappointing errand and i wandered the yard before returning in. While i was out, Christine let Carrie into the back yard. She was so excited, so i went to play with her and accidentally lobbed her toy out of the fenced area. I bet she'll stick with me to go get the toy, i thought.

Ha, so wrong.

That dog raced around the house multiple times, looping around in the cleared areas, sprinting like a horse. She lunges as she runs, both front legs extended out in front of her. She paused to look down the driveway, which Christine and i have been carefully treating as "not-yard". I was relieved when she just raced around some more, eventually racing into the back yard again.

--== ∞ ==--

Other animal drama includes Slugger and Louise, a pair of cardinals. Slugger perches on the rear view mirrors of both car and truck, frequently enough that plenty of sign is present, and attacks his reflection. I'm a little worried that they may be planning to nest in one of the brush piles, so i have finally arranged for the chipper on Monday.

--== ∞ ==--

In the yard, i am saddened to see Autumn Olive leafing out. I'm not ready. North Carolina in winter is still more green than the bay area in summer. I've enjoyed being able to see through the woods, get a sense of the shape of the clearing. I need to remind myself we've made much progress and it will never be the wall of jungle it was last May. When we are out driving, it seems spring is even more on the way. Forsythia, quince, foaming cotton candy pink trees (cherries, i think, not red buds), some white flowers on trees - not dogwoods yet, i think. Daffodils are blooming elsewhere, too. Our yard seems slow, perhaps because our slope faces north. I think i am thankful for the reprieve, especially if it means future fruit trees won't rush to bloom and get caught by freezes. Average last frost date is April 4th.

--== ∞ ==--

I am greatly enjoying the NY Times mini-crosswords. Their application makes crosswords more enjoyable for me - some element of immediate gratification, i suppose, along with easing the clue to box visual logistics. The full crosswords require another subscription, so i have refrained -- and i am not sure how much self control i would have to not do crosswords all day. I've never liked crosswords in the past, so it seems the mini was just the right size to get me hooked.

So tempted to buy a novel and blow off the rest of the day.

I'm still reading books!

Feb. 16th, 2017 11:48 am
pantryslut: (Default)
[personal profile] pantryslut
I think I forgot to mention that I read Maggie Nelson's The Red Parts a couple weeks ago, because a) I seem to really like Maggie Nelson these days and b) it is relevant to that thing I've been working on for a while. I liked it a lot. The Red Parts, for those who don't know, is a memoir of Maggie Nelson's experiences while attending the cold case trial of the murderer of her aunt, whom she never met but wrote an earlier book of poetry about. Her aunt Jane was assumed for a long time to be the victim of a mildly notorious serial killer in Michigan, but the cold case investigation pointed to a different suspect, who was in the end convicted. The book is an excellent meditation on issues of justice and crime and memory, and in it I discovered that Nelson is something of an anti-death-penalty activist, at least in that she's stood in vigils at executions.

I just finished Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, which was a lot of fun. The premise here is that Western esoteric magick is the real stuff and occult knowledge is held by rival lodges filled with old, privileged white men who periodically attempt to take over the world for real, when they're not fighting each other that is. Thanks to a black maid pregnant with her boss's child, who slipped off the estate just before a major magical accident obliterated a bunch of practitioners, a black family in Chicago gets enmeshed in these machinations. They get to come out on top. I like Ruff's sense of humor, and I think he struck the correct balance between terror and humor here, and also with the way that not all the horror comes from occult machinations but from merely living in 1950s America while black. That fact is critical to the ending, too, and part of what made it so satisfying.

Not sure what's next.

Requesting a do-over

Feb. 15th, 2017 10:30 am
kshandra: White text on a blue button: "Better watch now, because things could go wrong in a hurry." (Keith - Better Watch Now)
[personal profile] kshandra
Got a call from Amtrak this morning saying that our train trip for this weekend was cancelled (mudslides on the track w/no estimate for clearance), leading to a call to the Morris to cancel our room for the village summit. [personal profile] gridlore went to the lab for bloodwork, only do discover that half the stuff on the order needed a 12hr fast, and he ate breakfast on the way there.

Can we go back to bed?

(no subject)

Feb. 15th, 2017 12:34 pm
kayre: (Default)
[personal profile] kayre
So, I was reading a novel yesterday, and realized with irritation that the coming plot twist was going to be "surprise, your new love might be your half brother!" Sure enough, Hero's childhood sweetheart dumped that bit of gossip on Heroine. This frustrated me in two ways.

First, relatively minor, it assumed utter stupidity on the part of Heroine's father, who really should have noticed the possibility that Hero was his son.

Second, and what really bothered me because it's such a trope in both literature and (white American?) society.... Heroine immediately runs away. She doesn't go to Hero and say, hey, Girlfriend thinks you could be my half brother, isn't that crazy? She doesn't go to her father and ask. She doesn't go to Hero's mother and ask. She doesn't even go to her uncle, or to Hero's uncle, and ask.

When my daughter was in her teens, she got caught up in a soap opera one summer, and instead of trying to stop her, I watched it with her, and discussed the relationship dynamics that were portrayed. Over and over I would say (and later she would say), "Ya know, this wouldn't be much of a problem at all if they would just talk to each other!" How bizarre and sad that keeping painful secrets and brooding on them, to the great harm of relationships, is portrayed as normal.

Dreamwidth news: 15 February 2017

Feb. 15th, 2017 05:35 am
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_news
Hello, Dreamwidth! And thank you to everyone who wished me and my wife a happy vacation -- it was an excellent one. (Rumors that it was to help distract me from a significant birthday starting with 4 and ending with 0 are totally unfounded. Really.) It was also awesome to come back and see all of the new activity going on! I hope that everyone who's joined us in the last month or two has been settling in nicely.

Behind the cut, a tour of some of the new stuff we've done in the last few months, plus a look at some older changes that could use more love:

* Image Hosting Frontend
* HTTPS Beta
* Create Entries Beta: progress report
* Selective comment screening
* Other alphabets in site search: fixed!
* Icon file size limit increased
* Dreamwidth: Did You Know?
* Team Dreamwidth

DW News, 15 Feb 2017 )


That's it from us for another update! As always, if you're having problems with Dreamwidth, Support can help you; for notices of site problems and downtime, check the Twitter status page.

Comment notifications may be delayed for an hour or two, due to the high volume of notifications generated after an update is posted to [site community profile] dw_news. This was posted at 5:35AM EST (see in your time zone). Please don't worry about delayed notifications until at least two hours after that.

(no subject)

Feb. 14th, 2017 01:40 pm
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
[personal profile] elainegrey
An extended family member, on Christine's side, had a crisis yesterday. Christine's been carrying the concern that this person was headed for such a crisis since before we moved. I'd been spared the details. I knew there was some reason to be concerned, but i didn't want to be nosy or gossipy. Now i know how bad it was... is... and i find myself with a sort of free floating distress today.

It's not helped by less focused distress, captured like the NY Times headline from today, "‘Unbelievable Turmoil’: Trump’s First Month Leaves Washington Reeling."

An opening for discernment is whether i should volunteer to serve on the county Climate Change Advisory committee.

Meanwhile, in dog news, the mailman thumps a package on our steps before Carrie or i notice. And by notice, i mean, lifts head up. But bicyclist ride by some distance away while Christine starts the truck? Ba-roo! More barking than i've heard from her.

Last night she made a short bark outside. I went out to hear baying of hounds somewhere to our south east and dogs barking in other areas. Also, rustling in the woods consistent with deer browsing. Perhaps we'll still have visitors if they've all learned that dogs are penned up critters.

Another Anniversary, of a sorts

Feb. 14th, 2017 09:36 am
loracs: (fingers)
[personal profile] loracs
 Twenty years ago today, I sat in a nicely decorated doctor's office on Pill Hill. A large, dark wood desk sat between myself and Dr. D, a neurologist. He was a tall, wide man. The body said he might have played football in high school, but his manner told me he most likely never went to a game. I was there to get test results.

I'd only had health insurance for about a year. The years I'd spent without health insurance, made me do my research before I'd spend my meager dollars on an office visit. This was before you could google any subject in the comfort of your home. I would go to a medical library in San Francisco that catered to non-medical people. It was called PlaneTree Health Library. I'd have a medical terminology dictionary under one hand, while I flipped through articles and books describing whatever symptom I was experiencing, with my other hand. Without a primary care doctor, I had to do my own referral. Once I determined what type of doctor I needed to see, I'd start the rounds of phone calls to find one that would see me without insurance. And to get the all important cost of one visit.

Luckily, I had insurance by the time I start having some strange sensation changes in my legs. Since I was use to doing my own research, by the time I had my first meeting with the Dr. D, I had a couple of possible diagnoses. He took my full medical history in his office. Then we moved to an exam room, where he proceeded to do all those neurological "follow my finger", "close your eyes and touch your nose" and the metal hammer taps on nerves close to the surface that would make your leg jump. After he finished, I told him about my research and I wondered if it could be pernicious anemia or multiple sclerosis.

I fulled expected him to dismiss my amateur doctoring. After all my education ended with a Bachelor of Science degree in Photography and Anthropology. Dr. D had all those years of study, ending in a PhD in Medicine, specializing in neurology. 
 When he said "Well, let's set up some tests for those." my jaw hit the floor. My research told me pernicious anemia was completely controlled with B12 shots or pills. MS was a completely different animal. It's an auto immune disease that is like rolling dice, a complete crap shoot on what, when and where your body will attack the myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves. There wasn't (and still isn't) a cure for it, only a bunch of disease modifying drugs.

As I sat across from him on Feb. 14, 1997, prepared to hear the test results, my brain went blank. He fidgeted with some papers, before he took a breath and said "The test came back positive for MS. I'm sorry." I know he talked about the three drugs approved at that time for MS. I didn't process any of the information. He gave me pamphlets on each drug. Asked me if I had any questions. I had a million questions, but I knew they were not ones he could answer.

The rest of the day was a blur. I had to drive to San Jose to pick Guy up at a convention. I didn't cry much that day. Even driving home, telling Guy what the doctor said, I didn't cry. The fear held the tears in check, until the next morning. I found myself crying in the shower. It was a long shower and a longer cry.

For many years, the only people who knew were my sisters and a few friends. I didn't tell my mom. She was 79 years old and not in very good health. I didn't want to worry her. I didn't tell anyone at my job. The future was a big question mark. Of course, the future always has an unknowable side, but now I felt like each day was a giant question mark. Would I wake up one morning and be unable to hear, or see, or walk? These are all possible MS outcomes, sometimes they are temporary and sometimes they are permanent.

It took a while to breath freely without the specter of MS invading my every thought. I don't know exactly when it happened, but eventually the fear lessened and I found life just going on as it always had. I've been very lucky and have had only one major attack and a few minor ones. I have fatigue and some brain fog, but I've learned to manage it. Overall, I think these last 20 years have played out about the same way they would have had I not been diagnosed with MS. The future is funny that way, and I hope it continues to be this "funny".

News you can use

Feb. 14th, 2017 12:26 am
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
[personal profile] julian
I had a dream this morning that I was driving around on Logan Airport's tarmac, and watched as one plane serenely divebombed into another one, creating, of course, an energetic fireball. I then spent a considerable amount of time driving around lost (in terrain that looked nothing like Boston), engaging in nefarious action-spy-hero endeavors against unspecified antagonists in order to try to get back to my hotel to find my coat, and finally gave it up and went home, thinking to myself that the Trump Administration now had its Reichstag Fire.

I woke up convinced this fireball had happened, and also that I was missing my beloved purple trenchcoat, and it took me a suprising amount of time to figure out that it *had* been a dream. (My proof to myself being that it's absurd that I'd be driving on Logan's tarmac.)

So anyway, Trump's National Security Adviser Mike Flynn just quit, which reduces my worries about a Muslim-oriented Reichstag Fire by about 20%.

May 2015

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