Personal Update

Several readers have contacted me privately to ask about my ongoing health concerns. Thank you for caring enough to ask, but I have to say, your timing was a bit off. My chronic skin condition had, until recently, been in less active state. That's not to be mistaken for remission, but at least I was fighting it to a draw.

Over the last week, it's returned with a vengeance. The doctors would like to have a look at me and poke around at whatever bits they haven't yet poked, or perhaps to re-poke some of them that they enjoyed poking. I'm sure I'll have less blood in me this time tomorrow than I currently do, so I'll be a lightweight drinker for the next forty eight hours or so.

Other than my skin problem, things are fairly good. I've put on a few pounds, which I'll blame on the medication and the doctor will call me a dirty liar. That's to be expected. My body feels good, my moods have been fantastic, and my brain feels like it's firing on cylinders it didn't even know it had. 

I'm hope I'll have some good news to post tomorrow regarding the skin thing, but experience has taught me that this battle is going to be one of, if not attrition, than at the very least long, drawn-out campaigns rather than swift, decisive actions. I have hope, yes, but not a great deal of expectations. I'll keep you all posted.


I posted this as a metaphor for red, bumpy skin. Pro tip: Do not do an image search for "red bumps." Trust me on this.

I posted this as a metaphor for red, bumpy skin. Pro tip: Do not do an image search for "red bumps." Trust me on this.

The next thirty years or so

My wife* and I like to take long-ish walks around sunset in the summer. Sunset walks have the advantage of beautiful skies, the occasional firefly and a cricket orchestra. The temperatures also dip in to double digits, which is probably the real reason, even if that explanation lacks in poetry and romance.

Last night, our discussion (and we always talk on these walks) wandered off into the distant future. We talked about where we'd started when we first got together, where we were now in terms of employment and finances, and where we'd like to be down the road. We talked about getting a second car (#NecessaryEvil), about long-term job plans, 401K's, savings, and eventually home ownership. The word "retirement" even came up at some point.

It's a little strange to be talking about what your plans are for when you're eighty years old, even when you're talking to the person you expect to turn eighty with. It turns out that we were very much on the same page as far as how we viewed the road map. We're both adults, but we're not really the sort of adult you'd trust with Serious Adult Things. We're kind of making it up as we go

The thing that struck me about this oddly practical conversation was how utterly confident I was in our ability to make our plans work. That may sound like a very small thing, but I don't have a stellar history in the planning department. I've always been more of a "vague notion of where I'm heading but hey things change so let's not get too attached to this particular outcome" kind of guy. But last night? It all felt gloriously solid. 

* Technically speaking, she isn't my wife quite yet, but she's getting there. The line of demarcation isn't nearly as clearly-defined as it once was and, in some contexts, we are married and in others, we're not. Rather than continue to refer to her as "beautiful girlfriend" (although she is both of these things), henceforth, I'll just call her my wife. I like the sound of that better anyway.


Pictured: Not really a sunset, but pretty.

Pictured: Not really a sunset, but pretty.

Mercury Anterograde

I feel as though my life is making unusually good time, if not record progress,  plowing against whatever metaphorical waves one might wish to imagine. My illness has not subsided in any meaningful sense but it isn't paralyzing me as it did for most of the last eighteen months. I'm doing things more in line with what I want to be doing and spending less of my time doing things to distract me from my own nagging internal narrative. 

This week, the past, with its peculiar gravity, has been tugging at me with greater insistence. My sister and her husband have spent the last decade a couple of time zones over. They returned to their old home town, just a few hours from here, this afternoon They drove back, and on the way, met up with our aunt and her considerable tribe. I haven't seen that side of the family in decades and the photographs of people I knew only as infant embracing their spouses was jarring. I knew, abstractly at least, that I needed to see them, but it's a more concrete imperative. 

At the same time, I spent the day chatting with an old friend of mine who I've not seen in over a decade now. The fact that we fell right back into conversation as though we'd be close this whole time made me want to carve out some time to see him next time I visit the north. 

Which is all to say, it's been a little melancholy around here this week. Nothing bad, but just some events which have left me a little preoccupied with the past. 

For a brief while, the romantic in me wanted to believe that clusters of travel, change, and setbacks occurring during a period of backwards movement by the planet Mercury represented a meaningful coincidence. I don't think I ever really bought in to it, and I surely don't now. Regardless, that romantic facet is reminding me now that Mercury is currently moving reliably forward and I would do well to take that hint. It's been good to look over my shoulder and enjoy some memories and let them inform my plans, but my it's good to feel the sense of forward travel these days.

"Two auxiliary telescopes (1.8m diameter) and UT1, one of the 8m unit telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT), looking quietly at the Moon, Venus (brightest planet on the picture), Mercury (Between Venus and the Moon) and Mars (redish point above Mercury and Venus). " No comment on the direction of Mercury's apparent relative motion.

As Good As Needs To Get

For the last twenty-four hours or so, I've been feeling, for want of a better way to put it, actively happy. Contentment is good. Heck, I'd even call it great. This, however, is different. It's the sort of happy which propels one forward, a sort of happy which radiates off you like some sort of human analog of Hawking radiation, apparently creating something out of nothing. It's very much the sort of happy which makes you look forward to the rest of your life and wish you could tack on a bit more at the end if it isn't too much bother.

I'm in a good mood.

I'm in a good mood and I can't think of any, single proximate cause. It's certainly not work, which, at its best, is something that doesn't occupy too much of my brainspace. My health hasn't magically improved; I may have suffered a little setback in that regard. I just feel ridiculously positive about where I am and what the future may look like, assuming my augury tools are properly calibrated.

Novelist Matt Haig turned forty on Twitter this week and did the a little of the traditional fretting about it (in fun, I suspect.) I got to thinking about my turning that same age a while back and how remarkably good my forties have been to me. They've easily been the best decade, a fact which surprises me a little. Not that I would have listened, but I don't remember anyone telling me that things got better as one got older.

I wonder if it's to do with mental health I feel like my brain is working very well right now and that I'm equipped to deal with most of what gets tossed my way. You get some chicken-and-egg problems trying to analyze your own happiness, especially when you're speculating about how your own mental well-being is affecting said happiness, so I'll just leave it at that.

Mind feels clear and sharp. Love my current vector. Love my not-quite-wife-but-we're-going-to-rectify-that. Love the people around me. Love the people who aren't nearby, but I know are there anyway. Life is good. I'll try to enjoy it without clutching.



The laptop, now looking properly "mine."

The laptop, now looking properly "mine."

Moving Day

I'm moving to a new laptop today, so things are a little hectic down here. It's a cheap, low-end Lenovo with a terrific keyboard but I'm not wholly convinced that the screen resolution is going to work for me. We'll see, but the fact that a device like this is available, new, in the sub-$300 range is kind of staggering to an old-timer like me.

I let myself get caught up in a discussion of the use of rape scenes on the televised version of Game of Thrones and it put me a bit off my game. I wrote a long, long post on the subject, briefly posted it, and decided that I'd like to sleep on it a bit before deciding whether or not to re-publish it.  We'll see. I think I make some good points, but I'm not sure I make the right points, if that makes sense. I debated the specific arguments instead of the whole premise, whether GoT really needs all of these rapes.

Anyway, thank you for your concern about my father. He's been doing well lately and I don't think he's just putting on a brave face. I hope all of you in the U.S had a peaceful Memorial Day weekend.


On a train in the rain

Just a quick update while I enjoy nineteenth century transportation that still feels magical: 

No surgery yesterday. His doctors have come up with a plan involving something called a "heart catheter" which they believe will make the surgery feasible. There had to be some coordination between the cardiologist and ENT before moving forward. That's been sorted and the plan is to perform the procedure today. We continue to live in hour.



This is not my favorite time of the year. I pick up a bunker mentality, just keeping my eyes down and trying to get through the holiday season without losing it. I can't say precisely why this time of year gets under my skin, but I have a few theories. The weather and the darkness aren't my favorite, but I do like winter clothes and the lights in the town are awfully pretty. I don't have any awful memories of the holidays, at least, none which would poison my feelings about the season. I don't have any religious inclinations, so there's no weight to the symbolism of the holidays bearing on me. 

When I was younger and less happy with my life, I assumed it was loneliness and lack of financial success bringing me down. New Year's, in particular, always served as a signpost encouraging me to evaluate where I was versus where I felt I wanted or ought to be, and that was a bit of a bummer. Not having enough money to really "do" the holidays was stressful as well, particularly when my more well-off friends were being so generous. 

All of the above have contributed to my winter melancholy, but my current theory is that it's the wave of obligations which brings me down and replaces joy with stress. It's not that I don't want to see, or talk to, or even exchange gifts with these people. It's the fact that I'm obligated to do all of it in such a short span. I'd love to do all of these things when the mood strikes, not plan ahead and set dates and times and do so because I feel required to do it.

I know it's a pretty small and petty complaint, but I feel this way every year and I just wish I could enjoy this jovial time without the sense that there's something which I have to do almost every day for a month. I'm not wired for social obligations of such frequency. 

So, instead, I stay in. I procrastinate. I not only don't do the things I'm supposed to do; I don't do other things I might actually want to do. There are distractions everywhere, and I am a past master at distraction. 

Which is to say, I think I'm done with my psychic hibernation and ready to get back in to the world. I hope you had a happy new year and a wonderful holiday season, but I'm ready to get back to The Rest of the Year if that's ok.