On my favorite part of the day

There are so many possible options. Could it be…

  • My foot flying out from underneath me on literally my first step out of my car when trying to go into work this morning?
  • The not-one-not-two-but-three teachers who grabbed me and asked me for help and/or favors before I managed to take my goddamn coat off once I got in the building?
  • Babysitting a room full of deeply obnoxious 8th graders with no lesson plans of any kind during homeroom and first hour?
  • Returning a computer to a kid for something like the tenth or eleventh time in the last few weeks and catching myself just before telling him that if he lost it again I’d be making sure he couldn’t lose it again by shoving it sideways up his ass the next time I returned it?
  • The ten different kids– I counted– who came to bother me about charging their computers during second and third hour, which is about five times the normal number?
  • My terrible decision to go to Panda Express for lunch?
  • The two hours this afternoon where my right leg decided it didn’t need to be a leg anymore, probably courtesy of item #1?
  • Realizing that I’d been so busy over the course of the day that I’d manage to accumulate forty-five emails that I needed to read or respond to, most before going home?
  • Realizing that the “upgrade” to an essential part of our district’s content monitoring strategy, which hasn’t worked since late December and had just been pronounced “fixed,” was not only not fixed but might have been actually downgraded, and having to explain that to half a dozen angry teachers in half a dozen separate conversations?
  • The general, ongoing feeling of “none of this shit is my fault at all and I’m trying to be as gentle with y’all as I can possibly be while I’m explaining that I know that everything is still fucked and I can’t fix it but I’m starting to reach the point where I’mma snap off on the next person who looks at me sideways about this”?
  • Accidentally sticking my foot into a disciplinary issue with literally 20 minutes left in the school day and emailing another staff member to say “I’m not doing shit about this because I’m tired but you can if you want to”?
  • The vague realization that Friday, at least, promises to be way worse than today was, and tomorrow’s got pretty heavy bullshit potential too?

Right now I think it’s probably the leg, but there’s still like five hours left in the day before I’m going to be in bed.

Fuck cancer

(A note, before I begin: there is going to be a nonzero number of you who know me in Real Life and also knew Becky. Her parents, who I know, and sister, who I really don’t, are on Facebook and have been monitoring her page. She followed Luther, but was not friends with his account. If her family sees this, they see it, but I would appreciate it if no one goes out of their way to bring it to their attention. I am, as will probably become clear pretty quickly, writing it for me, not for them, if that makes any sense. Thank you.)

Becky Arney died yesterday. She used to pull my hair in fifth grade, and now she’s gone.

She was two months younger than me, and had been fighting cancer for nine Goddamned years. She spent most of the last month of her life in the hospital until her family finally decided she’d had enough and brought her home.

Nine damn years. The cancer started off as a small-cell cervical cancer that, as far as I ever understood, had a five-year life expectancy just north of “you’re kidding, right?” and she managed nine years. I think it was actually liver failure that got her in the end; the cancer was in remission for a while but then popped up in a bunch of other organs and that was the essential body part that gave out first.

The biggest problem I’ve ever had in my life is being able to see my feet past my ample fucking gut and this badass bitch got handed a life where she had to beat the shit out of cancer on a daily basis for nine fucking years in her thirties and forties. And frankly she did not lead the sort of life prior to getting cancer that was going to lead to gold-plated health insurance, either. She worked in the arts. She worked in prop design. I can only imagine the extent of the medical bills.

She was my first real crush, in fifth grade. If you look at my fourth grade yearbook there’s one particular girl whose picture I drew a green box around, but I don’t remember anything about falling for her. My unrequited thing for Becky lasted two or three years, at least. It was a Thing for a While. She knew; I’m sure she did. There was one particular field trip in sixth grade to a museum in Chicago where she spent the whole day letting me take her picture next to dinosaur bones and then sat behind me and intermittently pulled my hair the whole way home. She knew. By high school we were friends; we drifted apart when I left for college and then reconnected via Facebook just after I moved home and got married.

The last time I saw her, I was with my wife and son at Bob Evans, of all the goddamn places, and she just happened to be there with her grandmother. It was the only time she ever met my son; my wife was a couple of years behind us in high school so they already knew each other. When I killed my personal Facebook account, she didn’t send Luther a friend request, but she continued to follow the page, and I got updates from my wife.

She lived with her grandmother after she got sick. Imagine that. Imagine being old enough to be a grandmother to someone in their forties and you eventually have to bury them. I can’t do it.

There is not going to be a funeral, which is good, because I am generally not good at funerals at the best of times and I think there’s a good chance that “absolutely everyone from high school is there!” will not qualify as The Best of Times. She was that person who had every single person from our graduating class she could find and a sizable number of the kids from within a couple of years of us on her friends list. The eventual “celebration of life” that her obituary alludes to will be a de facto high school reunion. I have already skipped three high school reunions. I don’t know that I can make myself go to this one. We’ll see.

I’m not old enough to have to be writing this shit yet. She wasn’t old enough that I should have been writing this about her. She should have been raising the kids she never got to have, or doing whatever else the hell she wanted to do if she didn’t want to have kids. I can only assume that a cancer diagnosis at 33 can tend to alter your plans.

I used to tell people that I wasn’t really scared of anything, other than blindness, which was my greatest fear for most of my life. But for the last few days, which have been spent mostly restraining the urge to ask my wife to check Facebook again to see if her family has posted any updates, I’ve gotten this cold sort of existential horror in my gut every time I’ve looked at my son. Because apparently I’ve reached the age where people my age start dying of fucking cancer and so that’s a thing I need to start worrying about. About leaving him behind, before either of us is ready. About, hell, something happening to him. Because she was young, but it ain’t like cancer is especially discriminating, now, is it? And it’s not like this has been unique to the last few days– she had had cancer for two years before my son was even born, and one thing every parent becomes familiar with very quickly after their first child is born is the notion of their own mortality.

(This is what I meant when I said I was writing this for me, by the way.)

I don’t know. I don’t have a cute or clever way to end this, so I’m just going to stop writing.

Fuck cancer.

In which I guess I’m ready to go back to work or something

The last few days have been characterized mostly by pointless ennui and waiting around for things that didn’t happen. We had a Plumbing Incident occur on New Year’s Eve, which is the perfect day for such things to happen, and while the Incident itself hasn’t really affected my life all that much tomorrow will mark the third (and, hopefully, final) day that I’ve spent sitting around waiting for a plumber to come out to my house, charge me an arm and a leg, and hopefully this time actually fix my problem.

Which will involve digging a hole in my back yard. For a while yesterday it looked like the problem was going to require a backhoe to fix. We think we’ve dodged that particular bullet, but I’m at the point where I’m mostly just thoroughly tired of this and just want it all to go away so I can stop thinking about it. My wife went back to work yesterday and I think I might be jealous. I spent all day on Twitter today, leaving the house only to go get the cat from the vet after my wife dropped her off for shots this morning. It was supposed to be Plumber Day 3, but they called at 8 and rescheduled for tomorrow. The boy is perfectly content to spend the entire day fucking around on the iPad, so if I don’t man up and find some non-iPad activities for us to do, that’s what’s going to be happening. There has been precious little energy lately for good parenting, unfortunately.

I dunno. This is a proof-of-life post, I suppose; the music challenge posts are all written and will continue apace but I thought I’d make sure y’all knew I was still out there regardless.

In which I am old, incompetent, aggravated, and also blind

Today was stupid.

I couldn’t sleep for crap last night, so when I finally dragged myself out of bed it was less because I was done sleeping and more because I was done trying. That’s kind of a basic body function; you’d think I would be okay at it by now. I spent the next four hours getting myself set up to take my Google Level 2 Certification test tomorrow and writing twenty-nine blog posts that will pop one per day over the next twenty-nine days. Only once during that process did I accidentally set the post to display immediately, so some of y’all got a little sneak peek of what day 28 is gonna be.

I then decided to shave and did something I’ve never managed to do before: I cut my upper lip while trimming my mustache with my electric razor. I have had facial hair since starting college at 18; I am now 42 and some change and I was today years old when I made my freaking lips bleed while shaving for the first time. Protip: don’t do this! It hurts quite a lot more than you think it’s going to!

It is now supposedly about six hours later. The clock tells me it’s just barely after 8 PM but I’m pretty convinced it has to be at least twenty-seven o’clock; it has been rainy and gross outside all day and our internet inexplicably shit the bed again about two hours ago and reporting the outage was much more complicated than it should have been– Comcast appears to have “improved” their website again, and I spent far more time than I should have just staring at the goddamn computer screen (tethered through my phone, using mobile data, which is how I’m posting right now as well) trying to figure out how the hell I was supposed to report the outage. This is either a sign that Comcast’s website has genuinely crappy UI or that I’m slowly becoming completely stupid; I’d blame Comcast but not being able to figure simple shit out is becoming a fuckin’ theme with me lately and it’s starting to become a little worrying.

Also, I’ve spent all day staring at screens or text and my eyes are blurry as fuck and the cat is getting spayed tomorrow and there’s gonna be a Comcast technician out between 10 and noon as well, and hopefully they’ll get the internet fixed because I kinda wanted to take this certification test in the morning and it’s three hours long so the earlier I can get started the better. There’s crap going on tomorrow, is what I’m saying, and I don’t have time to be non-internetted and blind.

So. Yeah. If you were wondering how long I’d continue to feel the Christmas spirit, it’s good and gone by now. So less than 48 hours.

Blech.

Three Christmas anecdotes

FIRST: I have been firmly on the Don’t Buy Me Anything train for Christmas for several years now, but this year my wife and I agreed to exchange one gift each. My wife won with this gift, which is an assortment of beard-grooming tools: a brush, which is gonna get used multiple times a day, beard-specific shampoo, which will get used as often as I need to use it, and beard balm and beard oil, which … well, we’ll see. This is actually just about the perfect Christmas gift, really– something that I would never have thought to buy for myself in a million years and would never have guessed that she’d gotten me in advance, but which I immediately realized upon receiving that it’s something I needed and am going to use all the time.

It is also a subtle dig at my hygiene, which a lesser person might choose to take as an insult but which I’m deciding I’m entertained by. 🙂

SECOND: My son received three different gifts that he already had. One was a set of Minecraft sheets, which both my wife and her sister bought him in a bit of a communications breakdown. Second was a Transformer. I’m kind of irritated about the Transformer; he got it because he brought it to me in the comic shop last week and announced that he wanted me to buy it. I reminded him that Christmas was in a couple of days and made him put it back, then immediately took it to the counter and asked them to hold onto it until I could come back without the boy and buy it. They did, and I did. The second he unwrapped it he announced he already had it and went and produced the original figure. Then he argued with me about whether he’d picked it out or not.

Like. Dude. Yes the fuck you did. That’s the only reason I bought the goddamn thing.

THIRD: Okay, maybe technically this is two-and-a-half anecdotes, but whatever. He also got one of these two tumbler cars from my mom and dad. He already had one of these, too, but he immediately decided he was excited about having two because now we can race them. So, OK. No problem there. The punchline: I’m pretty sure they alsobought him the original one.

My mom just called a few minutes ago. My dad was in their office looking for something. He found a third bright red Sharper Image tumbler car in the office while he was looking for whatever he was looking for.

Apparently Mom and Dad really want my kid to have this toy.