dal niente

Tag: parents

Time dilation

My dad’s begin radiotherapy for the cancer in his neck. So far, it sounds like he’s impressed—the process has been more or less painless, and the biggest side effect so far has been that he gets a really dry mouth all the time.

 

He did explain that, at first, he was having some pretty claustrophobic reactions to having to wear the custom molded face and chest plate. Undrstandably, probably—if I had something form fitted out of heavy radio-proof lead that fit flush with my front, to the point where I couldn’t even open my jaw, I’d probably be pretty fucking scared too.

I’m relieved that he feels better about things.

He did mention in a message that chances are, they’ll completely eradicate it—but that there is always that likelihood that it pops up again in a few years and they’ll have to fight something similar again. I don’t know what I think about that—but I guess we’ll deal with this first.

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be around people lately.

 

My grandfather passed away. That was pretty tough for me. The last time I saw him was when [CM] and I were in Montreal for our wedding there. And then the next thing I know–  he was gone.

I wonder sometimes why my parents don’t speak about their grandparents very much. Actually, I don’t know anything about my grandparents. They don’t even really tell me much about their own parents—by the time there was anything to say, it was only in remembrance really.

 

I’ve been pretty alone lately. This is mostly because CM is up working on her mandatory rural hospital placement—she’s completeld 1 month out of 3 months service so far. We just have to tough it out for a little while longer.

I’ve been alone lately, but I wouldn’t say that I’m feeling ultra lonely—not most of the time anyway. But maybe I’ve always been a bit of a loner, and maybe that’s how I got started blogging in the first place?

 

I’ve just been thinking about people, and the relationships they have with other people. And memories. And connections. And those sorts of things.

I’ve spoken to my dad in recorded whatsapp messages more in the past month than I have spoken to him probably in the last two years, barring the times when I was actually in front of him on vacation. It’s been strange, but at the same time, it just feel right and familiar in other ways. It’s all just strange.

 

I know I’m rambling but it’s just that mortality has been a lot on my mind since I started this whole Australian adventure. Both of my grandparents have since passed away with cancer. One of my mom’s siblings passed away from cancer. My dad was recently diagnosed. Hell, even I was told a couple of years ago that I had a growth (in my hip bone, but it seems benign).

 

When my dad told me the other day that my grandparents’ house had officially been sold—I paused for a moment. I spent so much of my time growing up there. I don’t know if my dad knew when he left me that voice message, but he said something along the lines of “We’ve handed over the keys already, we can’t go back there anymore.” A part of me wanted to go back there I guess. Even if it was just empty rooms, I can even now just picture it all.

My sister and I used to link up elastic bands on end and put a knot at the end of the ensuing chord, then we’d throw one end through the stair rails and swing around pretending to be Spider-Man—back in a day when my uncle used to collect the comics (way before the movies came out). We used to build forts out of the sofa cushions, and hide under the kitchen and dining room tables.

Even if the rooms were empty and devoid of furniture, I could still point out the part of the ceiling near the stairwell where I used to rub off the plaster, because I somehow thought that that was fun. I would probably even remember which steps creaked, and which ones you stepped over so that you didn’t make a sound when playing hide and seek.

 

 

I keep forgetting that it’s been a decade since I left for Korea now. Facebook, of all ‘people’, is the source of the reminders. I remember how a decade ago, drama was thick and active, and it happened over the course of hours and days. Nowadays? Weeks go by and I don’t notice all the time.

Maybe it’s because of work. It seems like some silly cliché that lawyers work too much, and I seem to remember thinking at some point that that would never be me. But here I am—putting in 40 hour weeks at the firm, and teaching for 3 universities part time on the side. And since CM’s been one? I’ve somehow managed to fit in about 10 hours of judo into the last week alone.

 

Maybe it’s because I’m alone at home most days after work—I’m not unhappy, I don’t feel like my life is out of control. But I wish I could stop time from getting away from me.

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Non-Hodgkin

Getting here to Lithgow was a real pain in the ass. It’s really days like this where you understand why people don’t want to use public transportation, and just go out and buy a car and drive it around as a single occupant.

I’m sitting in a public library, waiting for [CM] to finish work. Even when I worked in a public library as a kid, I always wondered why these places have to have such high ceilings—what’s the point? They never stack the books that high anyway. They could have put a second floor in here.

When I came out of the public restroom, I noticed a wall full of information pamphlets. There’s always all sorts of pamphlets wherever you go—banks are full of product pamphlets and “free advice”. Libraries are a lot like that too I guess, except they generally have more community oriented things.

Huh. I had a browse. Cancer Council: Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Yep, that’s the one.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

On May 4th, 2017, Dad sent me an email from Canada in the middle of the night.

Apparently he has cancer.

 

It’s a bump on his neck. It’s probably a “non-hodgkin lymphoma”. I’m told that, as far as cancers go, this is the kind that you want. It’s a “good cancer to have”, inasmuch as that seems like an oxymoron. They’re quite common, and, assuming that’s what Dad has, apparently not too bad to treat.

Yeah, to be honest, I don’t know what “not too bad to treat even means.” But maybe this pamphlet, which really, is more of a booklet, can help with that.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

I haven’t really dealt with the fact that Dad has cancer yet. The first day, when I found out, my brain went into autopilot. I was 75% of the way to work when my wife, who replied to my messages, told me she was coming home to see me. She told me to go home. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I almost just went to work as if nothing had happened.

I almost cried on the train suddenly. Didn’t know what I was thinking.

When I got home, it was just the two cats and I until CM got home. I crawled back into bed, still mostly in my outside clothes, and wept. One of our cats, who is seldom as affectionate to me as she is to CM, came up to me and was stepping all over me, which is her way of showing concern I guess.

 

I’m better now.  There are more tough times ahead I imagine.

But first, I guess I have to read this booklet.

Visitor

[CM]’s mom, [Momcat] has been living with us for the past month or so, visiting Sydney to see us on a little mini vacation.  It’s been an interesting time.

CM, from time to time, worries that maybe it’s stressful for me, but I assure her– it’s not a big deal.  For some reason, Momcat has very much mellowed out since the last time I saw her.  We can hold pretty long conversations about all sorts of things, so you might even say that we’re getting along!

 

That’s a pretty big change from my past opinion of her from the time I was visiting CM in Hong Kong and Malaysia, where it seemed like Momcat was borderline hostile to me.  This time, it seems that she’s actually quite supportive of our relationship– she’s been doing her best to try and give us life advice. I mean, practical tips on how to make things easier, and shows of support in this or that way.

 

It’s been nice to have mother-level cooking in the house again.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

Every now and then, Momcat will talk about something she regrets from her days when she was my age or CM’s age.  Sometimes she’ll say things like, if CM feels a bit standoffish or like a loner or antisocial, she probably inherited it.  I’m not sure what to make of tidbits like that– CM is fine to me the way she is, but the idea of regret is just generally interesting to me.

I wonder sometimes how much of what we do in life is driven by regret, or is somehow some sort of penance for some sort of guilt.  The part of that that I don’t understand, and this includes about even my own regrets and guilts, is that they’re externally based– sometimes the source of that motivation is something completely fabricated.  It’s hypothetical and then materialised: it isn’t always something actual until we make it important.

 

For instance, Momcat seems to describe herself as a loner who has difficulty staying in one place for a long time.  That’s an awkward conversation killer… because what I wonder about is whether or not she was forced to be that way? You wouldn’t continue like that, even now, if you didn’t want to, did you?  Why are you telling me about this regret if all you need to do is simply change the habit?

I wonder sometimes if my parents regret or are guilty about the way they parented me.  I’m not saying they should be.  I just wonder.  How many things do my parents do that they have decided are “bad,” as in, they feel a bit guilty or regretful about it, but don’t do anything different and just keep on doing it?

Life isn’t like movies where you get that dramatic one liner at the end of everything and say “I love you,” or “I’m proud of you” or “I’m ashamed of you” and it is supposed to somehow be the defining moment of the relationship.  Real life doesn’t tally so easily– there’s a lot of nuance and baggage that doesn’t simply get swept under the rug that easily.

 

What I’m getting at is that I don’t know what to think about words that are used in that way.  They’re ineffective at really telling me anything, except the current state of morale turmoil. 

 

From other conversations, I understand that Momcat is very proud of CM for everything she’s accomplished.  So what is she trying to tell me that she regrets imparting certain bad habits on her daughter?

 

I think the only safe conclusion that I can reach is that relationships are really impossible to be defined.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

Parents are strange people.  But I guess that doesn’t tell you anything either.

Reconstruction

After a couple of days of mindless video gaming, sleeping, and judo, I think I’ve successfully reset my brain and am ready to take on school again. Just in time, I suppose– week 7 is coming up, which means midterm assessments.

To be honest, I kind of feel a bit disgusted with myself that I spent so much time gaming lately. It’s dirty work, but I think that that sort of thing is what i need to get my head back on straight.

[CM] was recently doing her rotation in the psychiatry department, so I got to overhear a fair amount of the video lectures that she’s been listening to. Apparently, when it comes to bad memories, there are two big coping mechanisms when it comes pushing that memory down: suppression and repression.

Repression is the unhealthy mechanism. That involves taking the event and just burying it so deep that you forget about it completely– at least on a conscious level. However, it continues to affect you at a subconscious level. That’s where you get all these typical television psychiatry stereotypes about people saying that the problem is a deeply repressed traumatic event that has never been dealt with. It leads to a psyiatric gangrene, in a sense.

Suppression, on the other hand, is healthy. Best example of this is Lily and Marshal from <i>How I Met Your Mother</i>, who, if they see they’re getting nowhere with a huge argument, just decide to call a time out, and resume every other aspect of their life as if the argument isn’t happening. Basically, they put it on a shelf in suspended animation, to deal with it later. In the meantime, it allows them to take care of other business.

I think for me, it depends on how low I’ve gone because of something. I might not be able to completely compartmentalise a negative feeling or event, because I live a very integrated life– I draw connections between every event in my day and the next, so it’s hard not to have things leak out.

I think that’s probably why video gaming is probably a good suppression. For me, it involves getting unplugged from reality, and plugging into something completely different. Spending time in that other world takes some of the CPU processing away from that traumatic event– allows the microprocessor to cool down, if you will, so that when I come back, things are less gunked up and a bit easier to deal with.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Do be honest, I feel much better right now. Best I’ve felt in a while, actually– for the past two or three months, I’ve been sleeping incredibly poorly. Maybe 6-7 hours per night, sometimes in chunks. Now that I’ve failed at clerkships, it feels as if an enormous burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

I sleep better now, I eat better now, and all that background noise has mostly cleared up.

That’s not to say that I don’t care about getting a job– but I do have some breathing time to focus on other things in my life right now.

I called home and spoke to my parents last week. This was before I had my last clerkship rejection. But it made me feel better because my parents were pretty supportive of my studies, and all my effort to build a life for myself with CM.

To be honest, I’m still not very used to my parents being so supportive. But I guess it makes sense, because when I was in my teens and early twenties, I did quite a bit that would make any parent cringe. Our relationship has improved a lot over the years– I can talk to them like friends now, which I never could do when I was younger. Who would have known that all I had to do was to sort my life out and have some ambition?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I remember from when I was studying philosophy during my undergrad an anecdote from Nietzsche. I tried to find it again but couldn’t, which makes me wonder if it was Nietzsche at all. In any case– it’s the story of friendship, and the footbridge. When Nietzsche’s friend came to visit him, he had to come up on a footbridge leading to his house.

Upon his arrival Nietzsche basically tells the friend to stop, and turn around. You’re not welcome here. ANd that’s it– he shuts his door in the guy’s face. There’s no where to go except back across the footbridge where he came from.

That makes Nietzsche sound like quite the bastard, and it’s a wonder that he had any friends at all. As I understand it, he died quite miserably. But in his head, he was being the best friend ever. The reasoning is that, by rejecting his friend, his friend would be cast into self-doubt and introspection. By having his confidence in their friendship completely shaken, he would be broken and forced to reevaluate everything about himself. This is the beginning of the <i>ubermensch</i>, the superior man– because if the foundation is broken, then nothing can be taken as granted. It becomes thus necessary to rebuild from nothing, and to scrutinise every stone before it is set in place.

In his view, this was the best experience a friend could give you.

In reality, if I had a friend who slammed a door in my face, my first reaction might not be to wonder too much what I’d done wrong. I’d probably kick down his door and ask him what the fuck his problem was.

But employers are more like this, and the way I’ve decided to fit in employers who reject me into my life experience is in this way. It’s the only way that I get anything useful out of this.

-=-=-=-=-=-

My parents are keeping busy with a lot of renovation projects. My dad hates working on the apartments (a couple of investement properties that we rent out) because the idea of losing money to those things totally stresses him out.

But they recently helped one of my uncles build a deck. I saw the pictures they sent me, from the foundations to the finished product– and I must say, it looks very professional. At the moment, they’re now working on completely redoing our kitchen.

I have a lot to appreciate about the childhood I had. Even at a young age, we were a very “Do It Yourself” family, and I mean with actual carpentry skills, not just 3d printing or basic crafty abilities with scissors and duct tape.

I am often shocked at how the average person I know doesn’t know how to use a hammer or a screwdriver, much less change the brakes on a bicycle, or even dismantle a piece of IKEA furniture without the instructions.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-==-=-=-=-

It, as in, <i>life</i>, is a lot like playing with building blocks, or lumber and nails. Yeah, there area lot of easy ways to do things nowadays– you can build a deck nowadays with artificial PVC planks that all but snap together, for instance.

But at the end of the day, I think you have a much broader sense of imagination and a greater ability for adaptation to bad circumstances if you know the basics– how to hit a nail in straight so it doesn’t crook, for instance.

Human psychology is a lot the same– it’s a building space. Yes there are many space age materials out there that make things so much easier. However, I pride myself on being hard on myself and really being able to give into a full range of emotions, from happiness to despair. A respect for my own feelings, motivations, and fears gives me small lowest common denominators that I can work with.

Throw in a tornado, and I don’t need the space age materials to rebuild my life– I can make do with the timber and nails I’ve got.

I just need time to remember that setbacks are nothing new, and neither is getting beyond them.

The Son Sidequests

A bit over a week ago, I told my parents: I was accepted for law school. In Australia.

It’ll be a 3 year stint in Sydney– which is probably about as far as you can get on a plane from Montreal, as far as places you can go.

To be honest, it’s no small feat for me. Yeah, I know, sometimes I can be a bit egotistical– but I think I’ve earned the right to pat myself on the shoulder every now and then for a job well done.

[CM] is right about one thing– when it comes to my parents, we don’t ‘talk’ very much. If there’s one thing that I’ve always thought was interesting about the way that she deals with her parents, it’s that I hear things like “sorry” and “thank you” on a regular basis. That just doesn’t happen in my home, not very often anyways.

I’m not sure how I’d react if we used those kinds of words, to be honest. But what I have come to accept in replacement of that are gestures, actions, that mean the equivalent.

I guess it’s no small news when your son tells you that he plans to move to Australia. It’s a pretty big change.

Reports from the Front Lines

So, I’ve decided that I want to try and get into law.

This isn’t really a small thing for me.  I’ve always been a gamer at heart, and by that, I mean that I seek fun through the exploitation of systems– I like to be efficient.  At times, I’m OCD and like to hack away at a problem until I get it working the way I want it– even if that’s not how the game is supposed to be played.

Law school introduces a few new fears though.  The first of which is that I’ll be playing in a system that is built on a tradition of regurgitation.  It’ll be years until I can really hack thing the way I like to– the first half decade of study will be me memorizing things, which is the kind of study that not only I hate most, but I’m worst at.

Further, it puts me in a financial hole.  If I go the course that I’m planning, I stand to be set back by about 100k.  That’s one hundred thousand dollars.  I have a fair amount saved up for someone my age– but not that much.  That means taking out loans, and being the pauper student who lives in a one bedroom apartment for the next few years, never paying for anything outside of my budget.

And finally, it places a strain on family.  The interesting thing is that if this was a few years ago, I’d say fuck it– who cares?  I’m going to do this.  It’s not exactly that I’m that much closer to family on the whole… but more like, we’ve come to understand eachother a lot better, and I’ve learned to compartmentalize.  By compartmentalize, I mean, I can store the worst parts of family in this box that I choose to ignore.  The reason for this is because 1000 years of Chinese tradition have made certain ideas simply untouchable– I might as well try ripping their DNA out of them, reprogramming it, and then shoving it back in.  I might succeed… but it wouldn’t be them anymore, now would it?  And those 1000 years of Chinese tradition come into direct opposition with 26 years of… well, me.

 

The plan is for me to apply to Law in a Juris Doctor program in Australia.  I think I’ve lived a professional life after my undergrad that gives me a reasonably competitive application.  While I was in university, I was caught up with a number of things and only managed to get a 70% overall average… that’s not good enough for any law school in Canada or USA, but it’s good enough for Australia, and it just so happens that [CM] is there too, which is no small motivation either.

 

I introduced the idea a couple of days ago to my parents… they were ecstatic at the idea of law, but less ecstatic about going to Australia.  And by “less ecstatic” I mean, “not pleased at all.”

I don’t need their aprooval. I think that … realistically… with loans and stuff… I might not even need their money…

 

But, wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, in that stupid dreamy way, if my parents would, for a moment, just stop trying to be safe and efficient and conservative, and just think, you know, maybe for a minute, some other way than their own?

 

I don’t want them to feel abandonned or disregarded… but if those are the only options they’re giving me…

 

The earliest I could get into law school would be another half year, assuming I’m even accepted.  I’m waiting until the end of December to apply because I’m going to be using grades from my masters as extra weight in my application.  There’s still time for me to turn their opinion… just need to keep strong.

 

I wonder, sometimes, if I even care about their aprooval, or if it’s just… pity.

 

Before we get finished, we’ll make the town roar
We’ll hit a few late spots, and then a few more
We’ll wind up at Stringy’s and maybe Groucho’s
Life is gonna be we-wow-whee!
For my shadow and me!

Last Friday evening,

I finished work at 6pm.  My breast pocket started vibrating, and as I stepped out of the elevator, I fumbled to reach my phone before the ringer went off.  It was [Paladin].

“I’m gonna skip out of work a bit early,” he said.  “Do you want to meet up sooner?”

I was feeling tired, and I wasn’t in the best of moods because it was a mentally trying day at work, so it sounded like a good enough idea. We had a bit of plan set up for that night; I’d finish work, maybe head to the gym, then meet up with Paladin when he finished work an hour later, and together we’d wait for [SiB] to finish work so we could head out to Marven’s and gorge ourselves on some Greek food. Marven’s has what I consider to be the best steak, lamb chops and calamari plates on the island of Montreal, and believe me when I say that qualification is not ill deserved: as a devout omnivore, no one delivers the goods like they do.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Earlier that morning, just after rolling the Warthog into the bike rack at the hospital, I fumbled my bike lock. I don’t have just any ordinary lock. Mine’s a pretty heavy duty kind where the straightbar section of the u-lock is about 2 inches in diameter. It’s a pretty heavy lock. Somehow, despite that I’ve handled this religious motion of swinging my bag around me such that the straightbar falls squarely right in my palm, somehow something that morning was off and the lock escaped my fingertips by just enough. I fumbled the lock, and it fell on my foot. Though the lock weighs about the same as a Montreal phonebook, the shape of it focused the the blow like a chisel right on my right pinky toe. As chance would have it, I was wearing my comfy Merrel quick-shoes, which are no thicker than the kung-fu shoes that Bruce Lee so famously wore.

I felt everything from my lower spine up to my neck tighten in anguish. I didn’t scream or swear (you kind of get in the habit of not doing that when you work at the Children’s Hospital), I just sucked it up. I won’t kid you though– it fucking hurt. Out of all injuries I’ve incurred, the most annoying ones are to my back, to my feet, and to my neck, in that order. Whether it’s a broken toe, a sprained ankle or even a cut on your heel, every attempt to get one step closer to where you need to be is a constant reminder of how much your life will suck for the next few days or even weeks. They take a long time to heal, because you’re always on your feet, and this tends to aggravate the injury. Although this time it was just a brused bone and a sore collection of tendons, like the time I broke my last two toes, there are a lot of sideeffects. One of them, for example, is because I naturally try to keep my weight off of the outside of my foot, I tend use the inside of my foot too much and that causes ankle pain after a while. Left unchecked, that can lead to a sprained ankle.

I got through my day at work limping around while getting done what needed doing. Mercifully, my work at the OR doesn’t involve nearly as much running around as in ER, and it was the first time I was thankful for being able to do most of my work from an office chair.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Work, since I came back from vacation, has been going pretty well. I think I’m establishing myself firmly in as part of the crew. Haven’t made that many close friends, but I get along well with everyone and for anything more there’s [Chere] and [Mickey]. That’s the way I like it– I don’t tend to make close friends out of coworkers. Maybe I’ve just become lazy and jaded with my age. It’s not that I’m incapable of making new friends– in fact, if I do say so myself, I’m really good at it. I make people feel comfortable, I make people laugh, I can hold a conversation with people of all backgrounds and professions– but I’m just lazy. I find it takes a lot of effort for people who either I have no space for in my life, or who have no space for me. Thus, I prefer the promiscuity of the energy I invest in my hobbies, because they give me the returns without the guilt.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I met up with Paladin and we went out, shot the shit for a while. It was so hard to move about that we went to a local Pharmaprix (a Quebecois chain of pharmacies, equivalent to Shoppers’ Drugmart in other provinces) and I shelled out about twenty bucks to get a cane. I would’ve liked the pimpin green fibreglass one, but that cost almost twice as much so I went with “standard old man steel” style instead. Using a cane made a huge difference– I could walk almost as fast as normal bipedal humanoid mammal with that thing.

Eventually SiB finished work and we headed out to Marvens for our steaks. SiB was pretty impressed with the place– the steak he got was more than he expected, and he barely was able to eat it all. It was so good, in fact, that SiB vowed never to return there. It was the most delcious steak he’d ever been introduced to, but the guilt of not being able to finish it ruined it for him. I mean, I guess some people just eat until they can’t move– can’t say I’ve ever felt guilty about eating before though.

The tone of the evening was jovial and fun, despite that the real nature of my meeting with Paladin was more significant than you’d guess. I’ll get to that part later.

The original plan was for us all to go out drinking when we got back downtown, at Paladin’s suggestion. SiB ducked out at the last minute, which, as always, is disappointing, but frequent enough that I don’t really think about it nowadays.

I’m not sure what’s up with SiB nowadays. I know that everyone grows up and everything, but as I recall, he was one of the most adventurous people I knew back in college. I’m not sure what changed about the fundamentals of his personality. I said it once on the subject on one of [Terminator]’s friends– I said, isn’t it terrible when your own closest friends won’t set you up on a date because they think “he’s a bad person”? I mean, what are friends for, but to back eachother up?

So maybe I feel a bit bad about saying this, but I feel that SiB has become someone different in some ways, and it’s approaching the kind of person that I might have something bad to say about. It’s not that he’s not fun anymore– but somehow, he just seems…

It’s hard to really pinpoint what is it about us that changes that we call growing up. We don’t really have a say in how people chose to mature, and considering that despite the choices and initiative we might take in our own life, we have so little say in the circumstances that challenge us that it’s no wonder that we don’t grow up the way we expect. Nobody does. What their interests will be, or the choices they’ll make?

Sometimes you just get this feeling that maybe things somewhere took a turn for the worse. Some of the things about people are just small things that you might say “he/she has always been like this” and that’s where your tolerance for it begins– next thing you know, that person feels intolerable, and you don’t know how you go to that point.

I wonder if he’s going through some transition phase or something?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

I joined a gym a bit over a week ago. Nautilus Plus. It’s one of the higher end gyms in Montreal (if you agree with my standard that the YMCA is slightly above average, in terms of cost). I joined it almost exclusively because SiB agreed to partner with me, but there’s a number of reasons why this was doomed. Most of all, it’s that SiB in my opinion is inconsistent with what he wants out of the gym. Or at least, he’s not telling me– and that makes it difficult for me to figure out how to go any gym plan between him and I. That trickles down to other things to things that don’t affect me, but which kind of affect the way I look at him. For example, when he says he’s going to go to gym in the morning, and he doesn’t. It’s happened enough times that he’s edging into that category of people who don’t have enough discipline to follow through on the things they say, but with whom I won’t make a big deal about because it doesn’t directly affect me.

Yet, though what he does on his own time doesn’t affect me, I make it a concern of mine because it reflects his character, and he’s my close friend. If it were just a friend, I wouldn’t care. And when it comes to close friends, I have really high standards– to the point where I only have a handful left. My closest of friends are close to me not because of their contexts or circumstances, but their character. I think it’s telling of people not only what they do with or for you with regards to what they say, but what they do with regards to themselves and what they say they’ll do.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Anyway, on a more direct level, here are my thoughts about the Nautilus vs the YMCA gyms. I’ve been to three branches of Nautilus and three branches of the YMCA.

  • the Nautlius equipment is more outdated than YMCA equipment I’ve used over two years ago (none of the safety bars on the bench press that prevent you from crushing yourself if you bottom out, for example)

  • Things at the Nautilus are in disarray (weight discs, free weights and handles lying scattered everywhere)

  • Nautilus seems to think that their personal trainers are more qualified than those at other gyms, but as I understand it, anyone who’s a personal trainer needs to present you with their credentials and qualifications if you ask. Nautilus charges a lot more though. I never tried their trainers because I couldn’t afford it, so I couldn’t tell you if they were better.

  • The YMCA beats Nautilus on more value for money– free classes, pools, courts, etc…

I dunno, I guess I don’t sound like I like the Nautilus very much, and my blanket-all conclusion is that out of the handful of gyms chains or solo gyms that I’ve had memberships at, Nautilus ranks overall at the bottom of the barrel. I would pretty much have stuck to it if SiB had, but, as of this morning, I went and canceled my membership. Gymming there with SiB just isn’t going to work out.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

In part, I need to cut costs wherever I can. I might not be penny-pinching yet, but every ten dollar bill counts, and with gymming replacing videogame as my monthly entertainment expense (it was going to be either one of the other) you might wonder why.

Well, things have been rolling along smoothly for my university application. I received confirmation that I can begin core courses in the Integrated Studies program (MAIS) in September, but I’m likely to start one course in July off-schedule to get back into the groove of studentship. The program is 33 credits, that’s to say, 11 3-credit courses, and each course will set me back a bit shy of 1500$ Canadian.

That’s not insignificant. That much money is the greater part of my monthly salary. So, yes, I need to tighten the belt a bit.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

But anyways, back to last Friday. The main subject of Friday’s meeting with Paladin was because, in a sense, we have a few parallels going on as far as our lives went.

[Supergirl] went back to Asia a few weeks back, and life hasn’t been the same. I’ve mostly been filling up my free time the same way I always do– with hobbies and work, to exhaust myself and keep my mind from thinking too much about things that I can’t change. But on Paladin’s end– his marriage is going to be postponed.

It was a moment of dumbfoundedness the other day when I was just checking things on my Google Calendar, and I had to remove Paladin’s wedding from this month’s events.

Paladin’s fiance, [Rda], is great. We get along just famously. I got her started playing videogames with Rockband, and she’s been a diehard of it since whenever we have the time. She’s Muslim.

That she’s Muslim isn’t the problem– the problem is that her parents won’t aproove of the marriage because they don’t want anything to do with Paladin, except on prejudicial grounds of religion. Rda is bound to obey her parents, because she believes that if she disobeys, they’re bound to burn in hell, along with any children they might want to have, for disrespecting the commands of the parents.

So, if I had to tell you why we drank about 70$ worth of shooters each, plus a couple of pints, you might understand the motivation.

-=-=-=-=-=-

I think it’s important to note that of all the people I know, Paladin and I have a particular approach to drinking which we don’t often exercise, but it’s effective when we do. A lot of people drink to be cool. There’s nothing cool about spending craploads of money on something that you will either puke or piss away. Nor is there anything cool about being so drunk that you don’t know what you’re doing, forget the next day, or worse, combine the two by doing something you wouldn’t normally do and then not remembering that the next day.

Paladin and I might get drunk to the point that we can’t walk, but it has a particular purpose– to make us talk. I think I’ve actually gotten better in this respect– if I trust you, I no longer need alcohol to tell you my life story. I think in general, Supergirl has made me a more trusting person in that regard. It’s not just that it’s fun to talk to her– but, what helps me talk is that I feel I can talk about things of importance to her, and she’s not just looking out for me– she’s looking out for us. When you start operating as a unit of two– it just seems correct that there needs to be some flow of information or something.

Paladin’s a bit different– for all his good nature and outwardly positive , I think he still denies (unlike me) that sometimes he’s got some real anger in him. Anger has never been one of my weak points– I know exactly how I get angry or frustrated. Actually, I think that compared to the general population, I’m pretty in touch with my feelings, and I know a great deal about how I handle emotions and the transfer of energy. It’s not because I wanted to be strong or anything– I just wanted to survive, and it came with the territory.

Not everbody deals with things the same way though and for some, alcohol is key. It doesn’t solve problems, but perhaps it lifts barriers and inhibitions to explore thoughts that one normally wouldn’t admit when sober. I think that’s Paladin’s case.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Although I’m talking about alcohol, I’m not describing how this was a bad time. In fact, go back to the beginning of this post– I had a great time with Paladin that night, and a great time when SiB was there earlier in the evning as well.

Between Marven’s and drinking, while we were out on Ball street, we had two rather strange encouters with really strange people. One of them must’ve been high, while the other was clearly drunk. One of them was loud and semi-threatening with a rolling speech about racial profiling (he was black) and police brutality, while the other one was like a 240 pound gang-banger with ADD, who asked us every 15 seconds what time it was.

Old habits die hard– though there were three us, I had myself deffensively postured as I sat on the bench, with my fingers loosely curled around my cane, my brain steeling itself to maim if need be. They turned out to be harmless– but you know, if I wanted to hurt someone, I wouldn’t do so by first looking like a threat. So I talked with them, shot the shit, kept their brains occupied, while my eyes kept on tracking theirs. While acutely aware that with a near-broken toe I was not near any fighting shape, the cane in my hands would make a great two handed stabbing weapon (don’t be a chump and try to use a hollow metal cane as a bludgeoning weapon! If you want better chances of a disabling blow, you want to stab.)

I know, I know, normal people don’t think about things like this. Welcome to my world. When I’m not having vigilante fantasies, I work at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, in case you were wondering where such a mind has place to develop.

-=-=-=-=-=-=–=-

I don’t like small talk with people I know because there’s always this sense of awkwardness or obligation with no real result. It’s kinda pointless. Either I know you well enough that we can skip the small talk, or I don’t know you and don’t care enough that I won’t bother with it. But it’s social convention.

But there’s something about random encounters, especially sketchy, semi-threatening ones, that really make my day. I think it’s because, in a certain way, I thrive on the fear that someday, someone will actually start something.

What happened to the good old days?

Well, I grew up– and I think what I realized was that if I got my knuckles dirty, it’s sometimes because I put myself in those sorts of situations. Dealing with a threatening situation is as much about discipline of ki and your energy imposition on the possible threat as it is about actually fighting. It’s about dominating your opponent’s wild energy and taking control of the situation whilst making them think that they’ve got no reason to fear you.

It happens every now and then that some people will just yell something out or start a conversation, and these aren’t people you want to talk to. Simple enough to say that telling them to fuck off isn’t always a good idea, as simple as it may be, even if you have the confidence and numbers to go toe-to-toe. I think that the way I’ve grown up though is that I’ve learned a thing or two from working in emotional hospital environments about politicking and smooth talking. When emotional, or inebriated, or high, or all of the above, people have plenty of energy to disspiate– some people are characterized by agile energy that’s extremely erratic. For those people, you try to manipulate their flows and give them focus. For people who have a lot of momentum and seem one tracked, you do the opposite– you throw chaff at their seekers and disperse their thoughts. To use an analogy– you don’t always need to kill a threat to stop it– sometimes you just have to remove its balance, so that it can’t mount it’s offense.

On the flipside, I’ve come to realize that it’s one thing to go out with the guys. If I was out there with Supergirl though, things would be different– and I’d feel a different kind of fear. And I don’t think I’d handle it all that well. This is something new to me.

I think that the reckless abandon that sometimes spikes comes from people trying to feel alive. But I have Supergirl, and that’s everything on it’s own– what fool would risk that?

Winds of Change

The transition for several of the machines that use from Windows XP and Vista to Linux Mint and Ubuntu has been mostly painless, mostly because the change isn’t so much of a change as it is a wholly absorbable upgrade.  I don’t play PC games anymore, so it’s not like I’ve noticed any inability or inconvenience– the Firefox version on Linux is mostly the same as the Windows releases, and Pidgin is pretty vanilla as far as instant messaging goes so there’s no complication there.  Open Office works pretty much the way I’d expect it to.

So when it comes to change, if something gets passively better, that is to say, it gets better in ways that make my life easier without me having to learn anything new, then it’s a no brainer– it’s great to have that kind of change.  Hassle free improvements? Why the hell not?  If only everything could be like that.

I read a lot recently about Opera, which is a browser I’ve used since my early smartphone days, but which is recently making headlines because it’s been aprooved for the iPhone. Anyway, mobile webbrowsing aside, Opera for desktops (currently at version 10.5 or something) got a lot of good reviews because of it’s proprietary data compression algorithms– unlike other browsers, it doesn’t rely just on cleanliness of a javascript engine to get stuff done.  Opera actually has a server-side to it.  It’s browser seems to me like more of a client than a browser in the traditional sense– because it requests information from the Opera servers, which the Opera servers fetch, compress, then send to you.  This means less data transfer, and ultimately, faster loadings times (assuming that data transfer rates are more of a bottleneck for your browsing experience than your processing speed).  It’s actually quite smart, even if simple, as a concept– it makes a huge difference when it comes to browsing over a 3G or 2G network.

Opera also brings in a lot of stuff that’s not found in Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Chrome, and they’re features that, upon playing with them for a bit, I find pretty useful.  I started trying it out on my desktop as a possible candidate to replace Firefox.

The problem is that Opera is not Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Chrome, and thus, it’s something new.  That’s not Opera’s fault, mind you.  And I think that a lot of the commentary for any tech subject that goes on in tech critic circles suffers from this problem– it’s the placement of blame on something because it’s ‘unintuitive’ or just ‘not comfortable.’

Do you remember the days when people said that using a mouse was unintuitive, and that it would never catch on?  How about all those tech critics who said that the iPod, and then the iPhone, and then the iPad would fail?  Back in the day, I thought that digital photography was a passing fad (I was a diehard film photographer).

Our distaste for change is one of the things that fuels the world of the future, actually.  In most cases, it’s not want of change that makes tomorrow– it’s want of familiarity.  If there is to be change, and if there is a want of adventure, we still have our base of experiences

I’m going to force myself to use Opera for a couple of weeks at home and see if I can get used to it because the functions that it adds (including Opera Turbo) are really quite cool.  The problem is that after using the internet for a decade, it’s just not easy to switch browsing styles, even if ultimately doing so in the long run will improove the way I do my computing.


I’ve always found myself resistant to change.  But that’s a relative qualification.  I may be resistant to change, but every now and then I recognize that it it time to really shake things up and try something new.  Despite my resistance to change, I do every now and then do something drastic and life changing, even if I don’t know how good the end result will be.  So, I suppose you can say that that I go through cycles.  I believe that it’s important to pay one’s dues and to work hard, which is why what I decide to do, I stick to it.  At the same time, I recognize that it’s part of who I am to change interests after I feel that I’ve done a certain amount in one domain.

Change is never easy, but in that way I guess I’ve always been a sadist.  Change is the only way that I open up a door which I can step through and grow in some entirely different way, so I’ve always embraced it. About as invitingly as an ugly prison cellmate perhaps.


Everytime change is on the horizon though, I feel this… emptiness.  It’s a strange sensation.

I’ve come to develop a profound respect for emptiness over the years.  It comes from a distinct difference between Western and Eastern schools of thought– emptiness in Western society tends to be viewed in a negative fashion.  It’s associated with ideas like lacking, poverty, or incompleteness.  That’s capitalism for you– always thinking that more is better, without regard for sustainability or balance.

On the other hand, some Eastern schools of thought see emptiness as serenity, and a calm potential to become.

Which kind of emptiness is it for me?

I think it’s a bit of both.  I think it’s because I forget too easily that I’ve changed a lot in the past.  I just look at myself and think, well, this is who I am– but it’s easy to forget the kinds of transitions, small and drastic, that lead up to this.  All.  Human memory tends to remember some things, but for me, pain isn’t always one of them.  So everytime I face change, I face bewilderment and fear all over again, even though I can look at my own history like reading a textbook and quote the stats that say that “this one is a survivor.”  The part of me that looks at it 

I’m faced with a number of changes right now.

[Supergirl] just found out a couple of days ago that her mom may need to undergo an operation.  As a result, she’ll be leaving for HK as soon as she can, cutting our already short last months into perhaps a matter of weeks.  Her mom’s condition is stable and she isn’t at any immediate risk, but this is that stage where with the mention of major surgery you just try to find out as much as you can before making any decisions. An exact flight date isn’t certain yet, but suffice it to say that it’s sooner than later.  I don’t want to dwell too much on that subject because… there’s not too much I can add to it beyond what I’ve said.  I remain optimistic and steadfast about our relationship.

I told her yesterday: it’s not so much about what we think will happen as what we want to happen that’s important.  It’s a mantra I heard on a podcast last week, and it’s going to be something I’m going to stick to.  In the words of Conan O’Brien:

“All I ask of you, especially young people…is one thing. Please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”

I guess the big change for me is that I’ve never moved for anyone before.  I have yet to do so, but that’s a huge step.

And on the other hand, I’ve never had anyone want me to move for them before.  That certainly changes things, doesn’t it?

It’s really, really nice to feel not just wanted, but needed.


I’ve got a battle plan of sorts set up, so that’s the way that I’m going to proceed from this point on.  It’s basically pending news from the University… turns out I wasn’t accepted to the university yet, they just accepted that my documents were all in order and that my writing ability is sufficient to qualify me.  But the official word about my admission? I’ll find out at the end of this month. 

Until then, I guess that’s just one more question mark I’ll have to deal with.

Like I said though– I’m optimistic, and having a plan in mind makes me feel a lot more secure about things.

I’ll tell you all about the plan later.


On Thursday, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital.  She had a panic attack, which for someone in her condition, is pretty dangerous.  It’s accompanied by difficulty breathing which to a normal person isn’t such a big deal, but for her, it means possible complications.   Difficulty breathing for most people just means a bit of sweat and dizziness, but for people of advanced stage, it means possible cardiac arrest.

She’s okay, so I’m not too stressed out about it.  Truth be told, going to the hospital has become somewhat of a routine for me– not just because I work in one, but it just seems as if what used to happen every few years between my grandparents when I was a young adult has changed it’s frequency to every few months.

Times are changing– we’re growing up or something.

Have you ever noticed the distinction people make between growing up  and growing old?

My grandmother doesn’t know how to sign her name in English anymore for the consent forms, so I scrawled it on the back of a lunch reciept in a size 50 font, and she copied it letter by letter in size 20.

I’m really glad, at the very least, that the Cardiac Intensive Care unit that gramma’s in has been newly reopened, as of perhaps just a month or two ago.  The place looks beautiful, and it does wonders to put both the patient and family at ease.  Martha Stewart would say, “And that’s a good thing.”

Sleep for the Wicked

It’s been a long time since I posted.

Happy New Year everyone!


“Look, look. There.  You see that?” [Terminator] asked. 

I stared, and what was I looking at? It was the tired face of Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier 3.  The visage was caked with dirt in a paste of sweat and blood, and the frozen snarl at the corners of the lips betrayed that, under the ‘perfect soldier’ machine exterior, there was a tired man underneath. 

“That’s how I feel,” said Terminator.  “Every. Day.  And I don’t know why.”


There is something to be said about watching movies like Universal Soldier 3.   The original came out somewhere in the early 90s and I remember watching it, because I liked Van Damme.  As a kid, I was crazy about marital arts films.  Ironically, the only martial artist of note who I didn’t like was Bruce Lee.  But Van Damme? There, you see, was an actor.

He’s come a long way from the glory days of his youth, doing blockbuster titles like Time Cop and Bloodsport, but he’s still kickin’.

Every now and then, my roomies and I watch either an old movie or a B movie.  The fact that we do both old movies and B movies is actually relevant.

We, and by ‘we,’ I am quick to include myself, are part of consumer culture, and part of that dictates that in no small way we’re exposed to the changing world.  I don’t mean necessarily in any humanitarian way– I mean when it comes to science, technology, and especially entertainment. I would leave politics out of it, but frankly, that falls under entertainment.

And generally, one of the best forms of entertainment to stimulate our senses is the kind that’s new and fresh.  I haven’t seen Avatar yet; it’s not for lack of wanting, it’s simply that I haven’t had time and don’t think I exactly want to make time just yet, considering that the theatres are still packed with people watching it for the first or umpteenth time.  But I do want to see it.  Why?  Because apparently the visuals are groundbreaking.

The story, however, is not.

I hear a lot of people complaining about that, actually, but that doesn’t make it bad, does it?

My point is this– what do an old movie and a B movie have in common?

It’s that you know how it’s going to turn out.  It’s predictable.  It follows certain cliches, certain memes, so that when you hear the music you know the knife is next.  You’ve seen so much of it that you just know how it works.

Yet we still watch it.

The reason for that is because if you can develop an appreciation for it, then it’s good– and that which is good can be fun.  We’re not here because it’s original– we’re here because it makes us feel good.  That feeling isn’t something that ever gets old, is it?


On the other hand, 

there are certain times when we don’t want the cliches.  We don’t want our lives to be the mundanity, the routinity, the boringness.  We want to live an exciting life.
 
But what hold us back?  It’s hard to say.
 
So why is it that sometimes some people get so caught up with unconvincingly trying to tell me that things are okay, when it’s clear to me that they’re just saying that? Who are they trying to convince, I wonder: it’s hard to tell if it’s me, or themselves.


  
I was having dinner and drinks with [U1] a couple of Tuesdays ago, and it was fun.  It’s nice to hang out with her because, first of all, unlike most of my guy friends, she is a girl, and offers a unique perspective on things. Not that she’s a feminist or something, but she comes from angles that my male friends either don’t consider or, ironically, don’t have the balls to bring up.
 
You never really know where life is gonna take you.  She’s recently completed her undergrad in biochemistry, but is now finding that she’s got some interest in the law class she’s taknig for fun at UdeM.  Who knows where we end up?
 
If I took a look at 10-years-ago me, he probably wouldn’t have thought that he’d end up working in the OR of a Children’s hospital, actually being responsible for important things.
 
[Zanshin] often asks me this question: do you feel like an adult?
 
The truth is,  I don’t.  Well, maybe that’s not entierly true– I certainly feel like an adult when I’m paying bills.  But everything else?  It’s a big game to me, and sometimes I feel like an idiot who is just button mashing, trying to make up for strategy or skill with persistence and luck. But, realistically, I suppose whatever gets the win?

And what’s the difference between someone who deserves a Darwin award and someone who doesn’t?  The one who makes the cut is the one who adapts to a situation.  The more fucked up the situation you’re exposed to that you survive, the better you do overal.  You have adapted, and you can now add that kind of crazy situation to the list of things that you know how to survive.
 
And some of those stories might even make for interesting dinner conversation.

 
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when I feel that I’ve been “penciled” in to someone’s schedule. I mean, don’t get me wrong– I like it when people make the time for me.  And I know that people have busy lives.  But I don’t like it when someone has a busy day, and just fits me in, when they could just say “This other day is better, because then I won’t be rushing.”
 
I don’t like it when people are rushing to get something over with afterwards.  I don’t like it when people are late either for that same reason.  People who have to rush to get to you or rush to get away from you?  Slow the fuck down, organize your life better.  If I’m not supposed to be on this schedule, don’t put me there– I don’t like half assed attention.
 

    
I haven’t really told any of you about how so far, I love the OR.  This wasn’t anything like the transition into ER.  This department involves roughly the same amount of medical staff as down in the ER, but things just function more directly, and more smoothly.
 
Down at ER, it took me weeks before [Mar], my old boss, found a pair of scrubs for me to use.  When she did, she got me a pair of XXXL ones, when my lean build puts me at Medium on only my fattest days.  In 13 months of working there, nobody in manamagent gave me any straight answer or help about how to get a locker.
 
At OR, within my first hour of training, I had both a locker and fitted scrubs.
 
Not only that– but the OR has an automatic scrub exchanger. I’ve got this nifty little magnetic swipe card that I can use to check out fresh scrubs.  Whenever I want them wash, just swipe, deposit dirty scrubs, and exchange for clean ones.  All automated.  I’m certain that the machine isn’t cheap, but meanwhile, downstairs, [Mar] is installing fucking computer trolleys (little wheeled holsters for computer towers— like, where the fuck are we supposed to take these things anyhow? Why do they need wheels? They DON’T!); she’s spending 500$ out of renovation budgets to repaint her office space; she’s having glass panels installed around the department to make it look cooler…. meanwhile, staff in ER are always catching viruses and stuff, and if I had to point fingers I’d say that the fact that we have to launder our own scrubs at home has a lot to do with that.  ER has like… two extra printers and an extra photocopier, wheras, OR makes due even though we don’t have a photocopier, or even a fax machine.  We run with our memos to the nearby departments downstairs.
 
I think it’s in large part because ER has gotten fat and bloated– it’s the first line, so from a public relations point of view, it’s probably the one that has to be the most spiffy.  OR on the other hand looks decrepit, but it’s sort of like a late years Millenium Falcon– this thing has taken a beating, but it gets the job done, and it’s quick on it’s feet compared to some other ships with all the bells and whistles.
 
The work is still a bit stressful because I’m always acutely afraid on some level that I’m forgetting something, but [Mick], my trainer, assures me I’m doing a great job.  It’s my 5th day in OR and my training is about a week ahead of schedule (that’s how good Jinryu is at his job).
 

 
“It means they have to remove both.”
 
“Oh, shit.”
 
“Man, can you imagine that? He’s ten frikkin years old! He’s never even fired that thing before!  He’s never even teabagged anyone yet!”
 
“Tragic.”
 

I unsubscribed from the FML RSS feed, because, frankly, the kinds of stupid shit I find there isn’t even amusing anymore. I mean, sure, some bad things happen, some pretty good moments where somebody gets pretty shafted.  But still, now that I work at the OR, that stuff is pretty lightweight compared to some of the really interesting ways that people get fucked up.


I purchaed an Ion USB Turntable for my dad.  We’ve got a collection of LPs in the basement that were before my time I think– I remember messing around with my dad’s turntable back in the day, but I don’t remember actually listening to an actual record.  There’s one wall of our basement that’s basically lined with LPs.

The turntable I’m buying him operates at 3 speeds, has it’s own built in speakers, and also has as USB hookup so that you can rip your LPs onto your computer.  Now that my dad is retired, I guess I worry a bit that he’s bored at home all the time.  He recently told me that he didn’t want to pay the 60$ admission fee to the Montreal 42km Marathon, which bothers me a bit– it’s not as if we’re strapped for cash, and 60$ certainly isn’t a lot of money.  Which leads me to believe that there’s something else going on in his head, that he doesn’t want to tell me about.

Anyway, I figure, resurrecting the old LP collection might be something fun for him to do.

Ever since he figured out how to use Youtube, his interest in computing has gone up exponentially– last month, I signed him up for his own Gmail account.  He uses it to email my uncle in Ontario.


I think it has a lot to do with the health problems in my family, plus that I’ve worked with both dying youth and dying elderly, but mortality is one of those things that’s ever present in my mind.  It’s a bit tougher, granted, to see people around you growing older, because you’re so close to them. Because I spent time away in Korea though, and now that I’ve moved out and only see my family intermittently, it’s become more apparent how things are changing with time.

I remember, one time, when my dad got into a particulary loud yelling match with my grandparents, that one of my [Aunt SH] asked me to the side, crying– “Always be nice to your grandparents, you got it?”

My dad isn’t a bad person; the fact is that he just has difficulty expressing himself. It’s a problem he inherited from his parents.  As a result, they do say a lot of things that hurt each other– not in that way that leaves you pissed off and feeling righteous, but in the way that if you look closely into their eyes and the way they breathe afterwards, the way that just leaves you feeling tired and old.

I don’t think I’m someone who will handle growing old very well, to be honest with you.  It’s not that I feel old at heart. It’s something that comes up pretty often in some of my conversations with [Zanshin] and [Paladin], as a matter of fact: we don’t feel like adults.  And that is in spite of all the things that I see around me.

The only time I feel old, really, is when I’m injured, sick, or paying bills.

Otherwise?

The other day, in my inbox on my desk, was a bucket.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Cool huh?” smirked [Mickey].  She held up the bag.  “It’s cut off right at the middle.”

I read the tag.  It was a surgically detached femur from a ten year old.

Now, maybe I’m a bit fucked up, but whose day wouldn’t be lighter and more joyous with the discovery of a human child’s femur in your inbox?


Seriously though, despite that I take my job and my life seriously, I think it has a lot to do with understanding the rules of the system and then really trying to have fun with it.  I think that the mistake that a lot of people make is to really get too caught up with the rules… they want to play their cards just right so that they hope that they’ll get where they want to be by following formulas that lead from A to B.

In reality, especially in capitalism based north america, we should learn perhaps from the lesson of marketing– not just that you should sell yourself, but that things need to look and feel good.  On one hand, it’s important that you look good to others– but, you know, that’s a simplistic way of looking at it. The point of free market economy wasn’t to just make things pretty– it was meant to provide the playground for competition and innovation that would improove the overal product.

That said, one’s objective shouldn’t just to get noticed or look good– it’s to do something well through innovation; it is to look good through passion; it is to harness a playfulness in your everyday life that trickles down to a product that people will buy from you because they are inspired by the quality of life you exude.


“Staphylococcus aureus is bacteria that lives on human skin and it can also live in the nose. The usual antibiotic used to treat infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus is called methicillin. Some strains of Staphylococcus aureus are not killed by methicillin and are said to be methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)”

A patient came up to OR today with MRSA (known in French as SRAM), which is not great.  It’s what was known in the late 90s as the “hospital superbug” because MRSA infections aren’t killed by pennicilin.  What kinda wigged me out was that there didn’t seem to be a single person in the department who really knew what precautions we should be taking.

I’ve worked in isolation wards even before I started in at the Children’s over a year ago, but…. still.  I can’t help but wonder how this province lives with standards like this!  I can’t blame anyone around me… it’s clearly a management shortcoming.  In general, I think that isolation knowhow seems to be pretty awful over here… the MRSA example today was pretty telling, but there was perhaps an even easier one to draw on: the swine flu pandemic.

Down in ER, when swine flu was in full squeal, things were just handled in a retarded retarded way.  (Jump to the months in question in old entries and you’ll hear no end to my bitching.)

I dropped by ER a little while ago to visit my friends in the Admissions office.  I stopped by the main ER as well, but to be honest… the people who were working day shift are the people I have the least of a relationship with.  There are fulltimers with positions during the day shift, and those people are just tired of their lives or something.  One of them didn’t even turn up when I said hello, she was so used to the practice of ignoring people standing in front of her while she was on the phone.  The other said hello, how’s it going, and that was all, so I didn’t stick around.

The people in Admissions though, I got along with those folks really well. Maybe it was because I didn’t have to work with them directly, and that we had very different tasks– that way, we could never mutually see how lazy we were, and since we were on good terms, it was the sort of relationship where we’d run into eachother and pretty much exchange professional services, like a buncha mercs who had agendas made understandable through money.

Most of my friends during the day shift are hence in the admissions office.  It’s unfortunate that my current hours don’t allow me to run into the evening and night crews though– I guess when my job hours switch to 10 to 6, things will be nicer like that.


I ran into my former boss and she tried to make pleasant.

“Oh, hello stranger!” and then she introduced me to the person she was speaking to as “oh, he used to work here, but he abandonned us.”

In my head, my subconscious, trained in years years of videogaming, reflexively generated an image of me drop kicking her in the face.  Thankfully, years of martial arts training reflexively held me back.

Passive aggressive shit like that reminds me about why the ER was a shitty place to work.  There are a lot of things to love about the place, especially the public you serve and the people who work alongside you to serve that public, but there are those who spend so much time with arms crossed having improptu hallway meetings that you just… you wonder why.  MRSA precuations are one thing– that’s an ignorance thing on the part of employees that’s not necessarily their fault.  But wasting time? Politicking?  All day? That was a problem with my former boss that I couldn’t stand.  It’s no wonder that the ER has such a high turnover of employees.


I should probably mention that I’m lucky to have made the final decision to switch to the OR.  But, I can’t claim all the credit.

I mean, sure, there’s a lot of benefit to being a daywalker again (at least, as soon as I’ve acclimated completely– sunlight still triggers a sleep reflex in me…).  At first, I hesitated because of other reasons though– I’d really found my niche in the overnight work: free food; a great nursing team; independence of operation; a relatively easy workload; better pay.

So why did I switch?  I think she felt guilty at the time, so I assured her she wasn’t the only reason– but the fact is, the main reason I switched was so that I could spend more time with [Supergirl].

I’m not used to this, really.  I like to think of myself as being really independent and free minded, but I need to be able to spend time with her.

These past few months that’s she’s been away in Asia have been some of the toughest months of my life, and certainly the toughest in our relationship.  We’ve gotten into fights, we’ve argued, I’ve made her cry… but somehow we always bounce back.

I think she might actually love me for the cold hearted, fucked up bastard that I am.  And I love her right back.

Why wouldn’t I quit a job for that?
I think that this is the way I always thought it should be– that having someone, really, having someone, for this or that, however you want to say it– results in everything simply being better.
How can I ever feel tired?

Oh, Good Grief

Location: @ werk
Time: 6:12AM (finished in one hour! wohooo!)
Batteries: 70% (Surprisingly, I’m not tired today…)

on the 20th day of Christmas, my ER gave to me:

10 fever/cough
9 crying / irritible
8 abdominal pain
5 vomiting with diarrhea
4 minor head injury
3 ?UTI
2 neck trauma/contusion

and a kid with a peanut allergyyyyyy

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Yesternight, Terminator and I were playing chess. It’s one of the few times that we played while we were both in top physical condition, as far as we’re ever top– that is to say, he wasn’t stoned, and I wasn’t sleep deprived– and it was an interesting game indeed. It was truly a clash of the titans.

In the end it ended in a stalemate, but, considering that he had the advantage in terms of firepower (a one pawn advantage, while each of us had a rook otherwise) I consider it a minor victory to have forced a draw. The situation swtiched tides a couple of times– at some point in the midgame, I managed to exchange a bishop for one of his rooks, but later on I missed one of his moves and lost a knight in exchange for two pawns. By the endgame, things had gotten a bit strange, since more exchanges were made in favor of a stronger position, but through a series of position fortifying exchanges (which Terminator calls “gay chess”) I managed to get it just right so that his own pawn advantage was nulified. We were both too tired and knew eachother too well rather than think that either of us woul de dumb enough to throw away a game of king + rook vs king + rook, so we called it a draw.

I don’t play enough board games like chess lately, and it’s always fun to exercise that poorly maintained part of my brain every now and then.

-=-=-=-=-=-

So, this mom comes in earlier and her kid is suffering from an allergic reaction. Peanuts. In case you didn’t know, people who have peanut allergies are generally second only to egg allergies, but well, both are still potentially life or death situations.

Thankfully [Bella], a nurse, was at triage taking care of another patient so she was able to get them rushed into the Crash Room immediately. Here’s the best part–

the mom had the kid’s epipen in her hand, but she hadn’t used it.

Her child, only four years old, looked like a little Mr. Potato Head when I saw her– everything was swollen, except unlike Mr. Potato Head, her eyeballs seemed ridiculously small because the area around them had swollen almost to the point of them being shut.

She’d called for an ambulance from her home when she realized that the kid had had a spoon of the stuff (question: why in hell do you even have peanut butter in your home if your kid is deathly allergic to peanuts?) but the estimation from emergency dispatch was that it’d be faster if she drove in. So, she’d burned pretty much every red light and made it here in under 15 minutes, but hadn’t used the epipen, yelling at the nurse later that she hadn’t had time to do so.

[Bella] thought that was too idiotic to believe, even given that she was in a panic state. While the doctor was present, [Bella] asked the mom to then, on the spot, administer the epipen.

The mom didn’t know how. It wasn’t that she was too panicked. When she was later tested again, after the kid was stabilized, she actually didn’t know how to use it.

Now, if your kid has a fatal allergy, don’t you suppose it might behove you to learn to use the fuckin’ counteragent, since it exists, and you have it? What, do you just keep that thing in your purse for a conversation starter?

The kid almost choked to death on her own espohagus, there’s your party story for you.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I need to get cracking on that university application. I sent in the transcripts, but I didn’t really even look at the essay topic or the other written requirement stuffs. I’d like to hopefully get it out of the way before the end of next week, because it’d be nice to know sooner than later in January what’s going on with all that.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Lately, [Supergirl] has been worrying about the future. I don’t necessarily mean us, as a couple, because I guess that’s a subject that we choose to ignore for the most part. If you know anything about me, it’s that I kind of chose not to worry about thing that I think I can’t change. And so you’ll make a second observation– that I’ve estimated that this situation is out of my hands. Anything I can do to make her stay would not be the right thing for me to do.

Lets leave it at that. And in the mean time, I’ll continue to live my life with her, and record here just how much I love her.

-=-=-=-=-=-

She’s been worrying just about her schooling in general. She’s graduating this year from Physiology, and is applying to schools in Ireland and Australia. What if she doesn’t get in, she wonders?

I guess it’s something that I don’t really understand well– worrying about school, I mean– because though teaching a bit last year made me really appreciate the teacher/student relationship, it also drove the nails in on what is my already poor outlook on the education system we’ve got in place. I just don’t really respect the premise of post-secondary learning. And if you ask me who I am to judge, I’m someone who’s actually got his university degree, worked as a university level teching assistant, served as a sole liason between the federal government and our school’s sustainability program, and worked as a teacher (and I mean a real teacher, not just a someone who speaks english) overseas. And I’m applying for my masters.

What has come through all of these experiences? It’s that a fairly small percentage of things that are important in my everday life actually come from textbooks, or the things that my teachers are explaining out of textbooks. The important stuff all comes from the experiences in between the pages not of textbooks, but of our journals. Ticket stubs, photos, souvenirs, scriblles, doodles, coffee stains, scars.

Mind you, it’s true– I did learn, over the years, techniques of my studies– but what I’m saying isn’t that educational institutions are useless– it’s that the premise that they provide us with futures is misleading. It’s quite the opposite– they’re not providers of futures, but gatekeepers, if what you want lies beyond those credentials they’re selling.

In looking around for a school at which to do my masters, invariably I looked at few dozen websites, orderd buncha information packages, and the works.

All of theme follow this theme that seems to suggest than an education will get you to your future.

This isn’t a third world country– when we say education, we don’t mean you know how to do something practical like plow a field or build a house. We’re talking about stuff way beyond that: you’re learning about how to plot trends in consumer spending so you can decide that the safest color for your store to sell in winter is black; you’re learning how to supercool a circuit so that it’s resistance to electon flow is nigh-zero; you’re learning about how PVC showercurtains emit a slow creeping fume that binds itself to enzymes in your bloodstream, resulting in measurable levels of carinogenic toxicity; I’m learning about how to do a Marxist reading of a piece of Churchill’s writings.

-=-=-=-=-=-=

But you know, the way that first world civilization runs is that we have to assume that there is a way, despite that there might be no way. We are tapped into a perfect line of credit that will not cease to provide us with vision of the future even whilst we empty our pockets.

And that’s how they get us.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

If you asked me why I’m interested in doing my Masters, I’d probably say that it’s mostly because I’m bored. And I do like studying English– I just couldn’t stand being in class, or listening the dialogue between my classmates and the teachers. That’s another story. There are side benefits– I’ll be the first of my dad’s side of the family to ever get a Masters. And while satisfying their glory is far from one of my intention, if I can do something to make them proud, and it’s on the side something that I want to do for myself, why not? That’s also another story.

I am not, however, doing my Masters with any expectation that it’ll get me anything like the great future that the university seems to be peddling at me.

If there’s any future in store for me, it’s my own work, it’s my own volition– as far as I’m concerned, the university is just in my way. It’s the boss fight I need to do to get a stupid piece of paper. The fight itself is what means something to me, that makes me a better person, and the ‘credentials’ are the rewards. The university does not ‘bewstow’ anything upon me, it doesn’t enable me. It gives me what, if I got somewhere else, will not be recognized, since the university hold the monopoy on recognized education. In my book, that makes the university an agent of tyranny, albeit agreed upon for the convenience of a society that likes the eficiency of standards.

I suppose the difference is trivial.

Don’t you think it’s insane, though, how, you finish high school and somewhow you’re supposed to know what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life? How you, as a cog, are to fit into the rest of the world?

It seems to be a ludicrous prospect because by the time we’ve finished high school most of us still know very very little about life. How do we know that we want to be doctors or engineers or lawyers? We like the idea of it– but we don’t actually know what it means to really do it for a living. Where would we get our impressions? From television? God, please don’t say we learned anything from television!

It’s not to say that being in a university doesn’t help us get towards what we want to do. It does, exactly that, actually– the problem is that it doesn’t tell us what we want to do.

There is something you win at the end, but the question is: are you fighting the right boss fight?

Are you playing the right game?

But I guess, if you’re not sure, your only choice is to play anyhow and see.