Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

10/11/2011

Dating Roulette

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:29 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

So, yeah, I signed up for six months of Match.com again.

Wow, this feels like confession.  Or would if I were Catholic.
Anyway, yeah, a week or two ago, I got an e-mail deal on six months of Match.com, including their BS “Six month guarantee!”  I finally got an updated profile and new photos up.  And, took down some shots of me taken shortly after I finished chemo after my hair started to grow back.  Not sure what I was thinking with that, frankly.  Regardless, the new photos are better, partially because of my skill improving, partly because of better equipment, and partly because I’ve been working out a bit.  (No, not because of Photoshop, you bitter cynics!)

But, the reason I’m writing this isn’t to advertise my availability to the three or four readers I have left!  No, rather it’s to share a little story about a kind of Russian Roulette.
One of the things you can do on Match.com is send what they call “winks”.  They’re just little messages that let someone know you’re interested in them.  Like a ping command, in networking terms.  Incidentally, men should never use “winks” on Match.com.  It’s far better for us to write women a short e-mail that makes more personal contact.
In any case, I got a wink from someone who seemed interesting.  Her profile was kind of generic, but, then aren’t they all after a while?  Besides, she was pretty good looking.  At least, from the one, grainy photo that looked like it was taken on a cellphone, she looked pretty.  But, I had to question what a 28-year-old, blonde, blue-eyed teacher would find interesting about a 42-year-old, graying, professional geek.  Yes, alarm bells went off in my head and they all sounded like “Russian Mail-Order Bride Scam”!

See, more than once, I’ve gotten e-mails from someone who is clearly not from the U.S. and, after a bit of probing, usually turns out to be from somewhere overseas, often Russia or one of the former Soviet-block countries, who’s looking for someone to marry here in the States.  Look, to be clear, I don’t have anything against Russians, or any other foreigner who wants to come to marry an American and come to this country.  I don’t even have anything against the whole mail-order bride thing, though, as an industry, it does seem a little sleazy to me.  But, really, if I wanted a mail-order bride from anywhere, I’d be on one of those sites, not Match.com!
Sadly, I was bored enough today that I was willing to roll the dice and see what happened.  Frankly, I figured that at the worst, I’d have a funny story to tell on the blog.  But, when I went back to play my Russian Dating Roulette, the profile had been deactivated.  So, while it is a problem that crops up on these sites, at least Match.com was on top of it and deleted the profile.

So, now, I’ll be sifting through all the profiles and searches and whatever looking for someone who’s easy on the eyes, can possibly put up with me, is willing to take the chance, and not running a scam.  Won’t that be fun?!?
Well, at least it will give me something more to write about!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why this has been filed under the Bavarian Death Cake of Love category, that comes from a few years ago, before cancer, but after divorce, when I was writing more and trying to date.  (You can read that old entry here.)

9/5/2011

In Search of Schrödinger’s Tumor

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I may, or may not, have cancer.

Now, before all my regular readers and, due to my automated update configurations, my Twitter and Facebook friends who might read this, get too excited, nothing has changed in my recent medical status.  However, Wednesday, I go in for a scan.  A regular scan, nothing special, nothing new.  My scheduled, nine-month scan, per the standard protocol.  Or so I have been lead to believe.

The scan, however routine it may be, will not decide if I have cancer, however.
That, I’m afraid, already is.  Or is not.  Either my body has betrayed me again and a cancerous growth has lodged itself in my chest or it hasn’t and I’m as healthy as I feel.  Personally, I’m inclined to think that I’m cancer free, still, and this whole exercise will be a test of the quality of my health insurance.  But, also, as it turns out, it’s a test of my patience and courage.

You have to understand, I’m not afraid of cancer.  Or of death, either, really.  It’s chemotherapy that terrifies me.
Cancer, as such, is just a way of describing cells that have gotten a bit carried away with themselves and aren’t too particular about playing by the standard set of rules.  And death…  Well, death is the one thing we all have in common.  None of us make it out of this place alive.  Not a one.  Death, in its way, is the final answer.  The ultimate solution to every problem I’ve ever had or can ever conceive of having.  So, no, though I don’t know what waits on the other side of that particular experience, death doesn’t frighten me so much.
Chemotherapy, on the other hand, I do know.  It is, I think, the embodiment of suffering.  At least, for me.

I know everyone’s experience with chemotherapy is different, so, let me take a moment and tell you why it is that I fear it.  For me, chemo was about losing all my hair, all my color, close to sixty pounds, and virtually all my energy.  And, frankly, in a very, very short amount of time.
My hair went first.  I remember it coming out in clumps in the shower.  Just like in the movies.  I started to cry when it happened.  Great racking sobs, with tears running down my face, mixing with the soapy water.  No one can see you crying in the shower.  I recommend it, if you have any crying to do in the future and you’d rather people not know.  It’s one of the many useful things I’ve learned from one of my ex’s.  I took my beard trimmer and cranked it down to the shortest setting, then sheared the rest away myself.  My own way of taking a bit of control back, I suppose.  But, I remember that day, more than four years ago, as if it were yesterday.  A few days later, I shaved for the last time in what would turn out to be more than six months.
My eyebrows and ear hair and nose hair weren’t far behind.  You have no idea how important nose hair is until you don’t have any.  Trust me.  My nose ran for weeks and weeks and weeks.  Nonstop.  All those annoying, little hairs filter the nasty gunk out of the air and grip it with that snotty mucous up in there and keep it from getting into your lungs, as it turns out.  Without it, well, your nose just runs and runs and runs like a little kid with a cold on a Winter playground.

The weight and the color took longer.  By the time I was an unhealthy, pallid gray, my goatee had become so thin that I shaved it off.  And, I was a larval, grub-like thing, pale and weak, before the weight started to melt off me.
Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded the weight loss, but it took muscle as much as it took the fat.  And, of course, it involved severe nausea and, yes, actual vomiting.  Not to mention all the other symptoms, like how everything smelled different; how all my favorite food smelled, well, wrong somehow.  And the weird bloating I would get in my hands and arms that led the doctors to proscribe diuretics and force the poor nurses to record how much I peed, by volume.  I was measured and weighed regularly.  Multiple times per day, actually.  Oh, and the drugs!  Pills by the score, a fist-full at a time.  Self-administered injections three times a day, at one point.  All while fighting nausea and trying to find a square inch of flesh that I could still pinch up enough to get a needle into without going all the way through.

Death would have been easier.

But, as a wise, Zen-Catholic almost-monk reminded me recently, without fear, there can be no bravery.
He also reminded me that the test will only show what is, or is not, already there.  It will only tell me if I have just another problem to deal with, or another opportunity to exercise my courage, or, simply, a bill to pay and just another doctor’s appointment to go to and questions to ask and answer.
And, either way, all I can do is live in the present moment.  What’s happened is done already.  What happens in the future is yet to be determined and may not have anything to do with what has come before.  And, regardless of the results of this scan on Wednesday, which I’ll get on the following Monday, I can only live as best I can, as best I know how.  There will, ultimately, be other scans, other tests, potentially one every year until the day I do, finally, make the last great leap into the dark.  In between those scans, however many there may be, I slowly, gradually, have chosen to live healthier.  The past couple years, I’ve been juicing.  Fresh, home-made, organic vegetable juice.  And, this year, fruit smoothies.  Both, or either, instead of sandwiches for lunch, along with yogurt, which has lately been organic as well, and, newest of all, Greek for the higher protein.
I exercise more regularly than ever.  I’d like to be less heavy than I am, or at least less fat.  Pound for pound, more muscular would be just fine at my weight.  Less stiff and less creaky in the joints would be okay, too.  Some mornings when I get up, I sound very much like a bowl of Rice Krispies my joints snap, crackle and pop so much.  Several people have suggested that I add yoga to my exercise regimen, that it would help with flexibility and ease my stiff joints.  And, when I hear a thing three times, from three very different people, I have to at least investigate that or risk the Universe taking offense at my willfully ignoring the suggestion.  So, this conservative, meat-and-potatoes, tough-minded, mostly pragmatic Mid-Westerner has found himself a bit adrift in Texas, more liberal and open-minded toward alternative health practices, eating mostly fruits and vegetables and “crunchy granola”, and, yes, finally, investigating yoga, of all things.  At least I hear the classes are mostly women, so, who knows, maybe I’ll meet a nice, healthy girl who won’t laugh too loudly at my foolishness.

So, regardless of how terrified I may be of having to endure chemotherapy again, or how distasteful I find the radioactive enema I will pay an enormous deductible on, I will face the day, the scan, with as much courage and dignity as I can still manage.  I will do my best to be thankful for the friends and family who support me in my weakness and discomfort, and, yes, for the medical staff who will run me through their gauntlet.  I will try to be patient while waiting for the results of what is already there, or not, like Schrödinger’s cat, who’s state cannot be known until it is observed.
And, when all is said and done, I will try not to let the fear cripple me, but, rather, I will do my best to live more fully.  Certainly, more fully than I have been, more courageously, I hope.  I will still know fear, I am sure, but, as I was reminded, there can be no courage without the fear first.

Of course, until that all happens, I will be more than happy to accept your prayers, good thoughts, and any introductions to nice, pretty, healthy ladies who aren’t more than ten years younger than I.
But, let’s start with those prayers, okay?
Thanks.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If you are all wrapped up in yourself, you are overdressed."
   --Kate Halverson

3/11/2009

Juice

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:26 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon


JuicemanJunior

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I’ve started juicing.

This is probably not a big deal to anyone else but me, but, well, I’ve gotten a juicer and started juicing. Now, this does not mean that I’m using steroids, which is what I think of when I hear “juicing”. No, this is actual juice, made from fruits and vegetables. Mostly, though, vegetables.

I don’t eat very well. I admit it. I don’t get the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and I eat far, far too much meat. I know this. I know this is why I tend to be so heavy, why my blood pressure is as higher than it should be, why I feel older than I should. I know I should eat better and be healthier to help keep cancer from coming back. So, I’m making a compromise.

When I was near the end of chemo, it seemed like every cancer survivor I ran into asked me if I’d gotten my juicer yet. I’d meant to get one of those years ago, I would tell them. And, I’ll have to get around to that one of these days really soon, I’d add. But, more than a year after finishing chemo, I still hadn’t done it. No, it took my own vanity to push me to go get one, any one, to try. See, I need to keep my nutrition levels as high as possible, while keeping my calorie intake as low as possible and juice seems like the way to do it.
So, I bought a juicer.

It is, in fact, a Juiceman Junior brand juicer, named after the original juice advocate. Though, sadly, he can no longer call himself the “Juiceman” due to contractual obligations. Still, he was the one everyone remembers from the late night ads and the Jim Carrey skit on In Living Color. I thought it would make me all crazy, like everyone who was on those ads seemed to be, to me. But, it hasn’t made me any crazier than I already am. And, you know what? I’ve been enjoying the juice!
Yeah, who would have thought it? I like taking apples and carrots and celery and spinach and parsley and ginger and sweet peppers and juicing them all together. It’s pretty amazing. Oh, sure, at first glance it looks disturbingly green and I was sure it would taste terrible, but, really, it doesn’t. In fact, it tastes sort of good. And, now, I’m getting into a rhythm of making enough juice for two or three days at a time, so it’s actually getting easier to do! It’s sort of a pain to clean the machine, but, so far, I like the results, so it’s worth the work. I don’t think I’ve lost any weight yet, but I do feel better already.

So, yeah, as strange as it seems, I’ve become one of those crazy juice people. And I don’t even mind!


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