Friday, March 31, 2006

Supine Insanity

I'm still sick (see "spin cycle" entry) and while I am terminally inclined toAdvil_1 let loose a verbal diarrhea of expletives, i haven't the energy to clean up afterwards. So. It's been a month since strep and the amoxicillin and string of tylenols and garlands of advils. My legs are still a battered mess of "internal reaction to the streptococcus bacteria" (erythema nodosum) - my feet bloated and a virtual memory foam because anyone who touches it would leave a dent - literal imprint of pressing thumb/finger. Amusing, sure, ha.

I don't get it. I'm in a first world country and all I get are sympathetic nods and painkillers. Anyone who's seen the state my legs are in would know there-is-something-WRONG. Sometimes I can barely move from the pain - let alone sit or stand. I've been to the doctors 7 times, given the labs 10 vials of blood and had a chest x-ray. Nuthin. Absolutely frittin' nuthin.

Today I made a follow-up on my doc, guess what, his answering machine informs me he's on holiday for three weeks. Now isn't that nice? In the meantime, Advil's eating away my intestines and kidneys. This is first world for you my friends. Remember this.

(Originally written March 13, 2006)

Spin Cycle

PillspbjHaving a bout of strep throat and have just finished my rounds of amoxicillin (10 days worth, 30 capsules). Internet pages claim I'm still contagious for another 10 days. Initially, i ignored it as common sore throat, what with the weather being so viciously cold lately. By the time intervention was attempted, I was already rolling over from fever and chills. I could barely open my mouth, let alone talk or swallow. Laughing was excruciating so one can only imagine what jolly good company I was.

Then, five days back, I had a rare side-effect: painful red bumps splotched all over my legs (eewww). My joints are killing me - the left ankle, knee, elbow and middle joint of the middle finger; the right shoulder and wrist. The sensation is as if I jumped inside the washing machine and had an extra long spin cycle. ow. ow. OW.

So, yes, things are a little tough for me these days since Dylan's always zipping about like a crazed cat with its tail on fire.

Aside from that, it's really the same old boring stuff: attempts at cooking and failing spectacularly, frequent electrocution now that there's just static everywhere (curses!), endless picking-up of toys that are just resolutely scatterred everywhere.

(Originally written February 21, 2006)

Adults lie, but not always.

My grandfather picked me up. "Shall I throw you in, eh? Shall I throw you in the water?"Amrpunc04_1

I shook my head. Adults are threatening creatures.

"Shall I throw you in the water?".."I'll put you in the rubbish bin.".. "I'll eat you all up.".. "I'll take you back and get another little boy."

That's what they say. And no matter how much you tell yourself that they're lying, or teasing, there's always a chance. Maybe they are telling the truth.

I had an aunt who claimed she had a tail, beneath her dress. I sneered at her, made sure she knew I knew she was lying; but secretly, I could not stop myself from wondering.

Adults lie, but not always.

When I was four, I believed everything, accepted everything, and was scared of nothing. Now I was eight, and I believed in what I could see and was scared of anything I couldn't. Scared of things in the darkness, of things invisible to see.

- from
Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

Evolving differently

212There are some friends whom, despite minimal contact and oceans of separation, would fit right back in to our lives, as if they just temporarily left the couch for a coffee refill. And when you get to be in my station in life where good friends come rare and far too few in between, to lose one, temporarily or permanently, is tragic beyond words.

I have recently lost a friend due to a reckless outburst, and it was a farewell full of knives. We used to have a little space in the internet, and now it's just a dark empty place full of bad blood. I think about it all the time, all those years of being sure and wrong, of how we knew so little of each other, or maybe too much -- to have known which self-destruct buttons to push and push it with all of our dead weight we did.

Who knew it was a risk - those silent years? We slept soundly in our little cocoons, trusting we'd both wake up with wings. Well, someone woke up as a butterfly to live by day, and the other, a moth, to dance by night.

(Originally written Feb. 17. 2006)

(**painting: Death's Head Moth by Vincent Van Gogh)

Dylan's Progress Report

1fish1He's currently 2 years and 7 months old.

He has mastered:

  1. 6-pc Jigsaw
  2. Toilet routines
  3. Computer Mouse: point and click
  4. Drawing faces
  5. Naming animals starting with the letter A to Z. (I = Iguana; U = umbrella bird, unicorn; X = X-ray fish)

1solar_index_mainCurrent pre-occupation:

  1. Pirating (I got him pirate paraphernalia: hook, treasure coins, telescope, eyepatch, sword)
  2. Treasure and/or Hunting (I got him a pair of binoculars)
  3. Imaginary Painting of Walls using the Pastry Brush (aftermath of the repairman's visit)
  4. 25-pc Jigsaw
  5. Fishing (fishpole with magnet, fishes with paperclips)
  6. The Planets of the Solar System, Galaxies et al. (he can name the planets, mind you)

I am teaching him how to:

  1. Button Up
  2. Properly identify: Paper, Metal and Plastic (aftermath of Blues Clues Recycle episode)

He still refuses to use cutlery and constantly has to sleep with that stiff battery operated rabbit that twitch its nose and goes "ribbit-ribbit" (which he feeds with a toy carrot).

that is all.

(Originally written February 13, 2006)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Painless Suicide

This is taken from Salon.Com. Cary Tennis replies to an anonymous letter asking "What's the best method for a painless suicide.. I am done with life, but I don't want to suffer when I go."

Tennis writes:

Dear Ready for the End,

I can't give you helpful hints on how to kill yourself.

However, neither can I argue that your life is good and should be preserved, as I cannot know how life is for you. An average day for you may be more awful than even my worst day. Who am I to say that you should choose to live your life? As one of those left behind when others depart, I can only say that I have never heard any reports from successful suicides on whether they are pleased with the results.

So let us say simply that in your case suicide is one of the options you are considering. Let us presume that I have been called upon to help you choose. I think there are probably some better options to accomplish what you want to accomplish.

What you want to accomplish is an end to your suffering. Your only concern is that the act of suicide itself might entail some pain. But it is not altogether clear that suicide, however it is accomplished, will bring an end to suffering.

None of us knows what death will bring. You may find yourself reincarnated and continuing to suffer, or in hell, suffering, or without any consciousness at all and thus in a state immune to claims that it is either better or worse, or in some incomprehensible state of consciousness beyond anything that your current primitive apparatus of brain, nervous system and senses enables you to visualize. You do not know that you will not come back as a rock, or a dog, or a lizard with hazy consciousness of having once been, believe it or not, a human, magisterial and supreme among earthly beings. You may find yourself, as I do when I dream of suicide, in a state of unremitting remorse for having, in a moment's impetuousness, given up your life. In my dream I am falling and I am asking myself, Why did I do that? Someone was telling me the other day of a man who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and survived; on his way down, he found himself thinking, I thought I had problems before, but now I really have a problem: I jumped!

You know nothing for certain of death and what comes after. So choosing suicide is not at all the sure cure for your ills that you might believe it to be. It is, rather, an enormous gamble.

Being that you are clearly willing to gamble to relieve your suffering, let us consider other gambles you might take.

For starters, you might gamble that if you wake up tomorrow alive, it may be one of your few good days. The odds are not great, but at least they are knowable. Since you have had some good days, you know that good days are possible. Moreover, a survey of your life will probably show that your good days have occurred in a cyclical pattern alternating with bouts of illness. So it is likely that they will recur in that cycle -- perhaps not often enough to relieve your feeling that life is unrelenting suffering, but enough to show that in reality your suffering does occasionally relent.

Knowing both that good days will happen and that they will be rare, you might choose to make the most of those few that occur. Being possessed of independent wealth gives you certain options. On your next good day, you might board a plane to Paris. On a good day, you might do anything in the world that your heart desires.

On a rare good day, you might also use your wealth to preserve and possibly extend that one good day into two good days or three. See if you can put a string of good days together. How? You might offer a prize of $10,000 to any psychologist, philosopher or medical doctor who can successfully prolong this one good day into two good days, or a week even! Perhaps there is someone out there with a method or a cure that will work for you -- a hypnotist, a magician, a genius of meditation or a doctor of herbs and flowers, perhaps a guru who sits on a mountain. It would be a gamble, and there would be people who would try to con you, but since you are willing to gamble in other ways, and to part with your money, you might be willing to try anything.

What, if I may ask, have you got to lose?

Granted, the odds against tomorrow being a good day are not favorable. Most likely, tomorrow will be another day filled with depression and thoughts of suicide. But good days do happen. Eventually one will come. A good gamble, it seems to me, is to wait for that nearly assured good day and then take it for all it's worth.

There are other sound reasons to continue to live. Medical and psychological researchers continue to find ways to treat mental illness. At 36 you may have 40 years of life or more in which a cure may be found. So it makes sense to put suicide off as long as possible, as long as you can bear living. It also makes sense, if you have wealth, to contribute some of your money to any research that looks promising.

If you also want to give money to the person you live with, you are free to do that. You do not have to die in order to give money. If it would make you happy to contribute to that person's happiness, why not make some kind of financial gift to this person while you are living? However, if you want to enjoy knowing that you have made someone happy, you have to be alive to enjoy knowing it.

I do not mean to be glib about my views on suicide. I recognize your suffering and the seriousness of your proposal. Nor do I mean to minimize your suffering by treating the choice of suicide as a gamble, as if to reduce to a mere calculation what is a deeply emotional gesture. The point I would like to make is that while suicide may attract you as a supremely expressive act, it differs fundamentally from other expressive acts. We might punch a hole in a wall or scream at a policeman; we might get drunk or break things. From those gestures we can recover our lives. In fact, the very purpose of such gestures is that we can rid ourselves of the frustration and anger inside us and continue to live.

Suicide is not such a gesture; rather than allowing us to continue, it ends all chance.

So my advice is to see suicide as a bad bet, to gamble instead on what meager pleasure can be wrung from life, and to persist as long as possible in hope of a cure for your suffering.

Finally, if you feel like you are about to commit suicide, call your local suicide hotline, or the national referral number, 1-800-273-8255, or, if you like, call my local suicide hotline number in San Francisco, which is 415-781-0500. It is answered by a live person 24 hours a day, seven days a week.