Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Damn it. My main blogs are down. Disordered Thought Processes and Starlight and Gravity are down for the count.

I guess the good thing about Blogger having bought by Google is that it's pretty damn unlikely that they'll be pulling the plug on this operation any time soon.

But as usual, I digress.

χμ gives the best Christmas and birthday cards. She always includes an excerpt from her diary that is always thought-provoking.

When I read her entry attached to her Christmas card, I found myself pondering.

She talks about body image issues, definitely an issue that bedevils many women I have met. I've run into this problem rather acutely in the form of my younger sister, who at one point in time had become essentially anorexic. And every once in a while, we end up admitting some teenage kid who is convinced that they're fat and ugly and have evidence of significant self harm.

But mostly, I think about my overall self-image.

As a general rule, guys just don't have the same body image issues as women do. I mean, hell, I've met hundreds of dudes who are uglier than sin but somehow they manage to find a woman who loves them.

The thing I've always dealt with is being fat.

For some reason, after I turned six, I think I gained about a hundred pounds. By the time I was 13, I was pushing about 200 lbs. Not good.

Knowing what I know now about hypothalamic hormones that control satiety, I can't help but wonder if my little episode under general anesthesia when I had my tonsils taken out didn't box some of my neurons. A little hypoxia would certainly explain my constant battles with major depression, too.

But fact of the matter was that I've almost always been a big guy. There was a little bout in high school where, for reasons that are not entirely clear, I lost about 75 lbs. I look at pictures from that time period, and I find it a tad disturbing. I remember not eating, though, and while I entertain the notion that maybe it was just the surge of sex hormones, I have to admit that maybe it was because I was horrifically depressed. Things sort of reached equilibrium during college, and by the time I was 23, I was sort of back to where I had started.

The main problem, now that I'm 30, is that I'm going to die early if nothing else changes. Now weight loss is not an easy thing. If it was, cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons would be quickly out of business, and probably half of the U.S. economy would collapse. And part of me is still wallowing in major depression and would be quite happy not to do anything about it. I welcome death. Well, not really, but I may as well, the way things are going.

In the past 2 years, my prognosis has gone from "generally healthy but overweight" to "high risk for coronary ischemic event." For starters, my dad had a big fat left anterior descending artery MI. And it so happens that my HDL has taken a big fat nose dive from the high 40s/low 50s down to 23. Add to that the fact that recently discovered that I'm Stage I hypertensive, and we're looking at about 20 years in the best case scenario before I find myself clutching at the left side of my chest and getting all grey and sweaty.

This is not a fun way to die (and believe me, there actually are fun ways to die. Take being in flagrante delicto for instance. Or being on a morphine drip) and yet it's fitting, I guess. There is something poetic about my heart killing me.

But, seriously, though, aside from the general health risk and the likelihood of dying prematurely, it definitely affects my ego. Anyone who has been fat, man or woman, knows precisely what I mean. I can't help but wonder how much on an impact my appearance has had in my interactions with the opposite sex. If were in a little better shape, if I was a little better looking, would I still be thinking about the probability that I'm going to die alone?

(I figure that I'm gonna have my MI while I'm getting ready for work in the bathroom of my one-bedroom apartment. It'll be about three days before anyone realizes that I'm missing.)

Not to say that the women I've been attracted to are superficial bitches who care nothing about my underlying beauty. As much as we like to talk about skin deepness, there is a well-known phenomenon that your internal state tends to mirror your external state and vice-versa. It's the whole reason we evolved to have eyes, after all. Sure, there are species of organisms that exploit this detail and flourish by utilizing deceit, but this is generally the exception rather than the rule. What you see is what you get, give or take a few percentage points.

Believing that you are ugly and unworthy of love makes you more liable to debase yourself. I know this for a fact. In these dark and calamitous days, I've pretty much partaken of every vice known to man except for maybe crack cocaine and intravenous drug use. And, you know what? So far, no one who knows what I've done has said anything to prove me wrong.

The abyss. At least Death will hold her arms out to me, if no one else.

But I'm wallowing in self-pity now.

What is it inside me that so resists the notion of self-improvement? Other than the realization that about 99% of what I do to change things will be futile. The thing is, that 1% can be huge. That could be maybe another 5-7 years of life. That could be the difference between 5 and 30 hospital admissions in a year. (I don't know, I'm just pulling numbers out of my head.)

I've bought into the idea that self-improvement is masturbation.

Self-destruction is my religion. Oblivion my God. Or some bullshit like that.

The funny thing is I understand the trap that I've built for myself. It's definitely going to kill me without outside intervention, but I know precisely how it's going to do it. I need to be loved in order for me to be motivated to change, but I'm pretty much resigned to the idea that I'm going to have to change if I'm going to be worthy of love. So that's that. I'm screwed.


Lastly, a question from Dimplebot on Consumating spent my mind tumbling through time. I have a lot of memories that I hang on to. Disturbingly, a lot of them are bad and often painful. There are only a very few memories that are unequivocally happy, and a lot of those are still framed by some kind of sorrow. Everything must come to an end. Nothing lasts forever. You know all that shit.

The memory that comes to mind is one I have of an impromptu trip from Berkeley to Seattle. I was initially just going to go home to L.A., and α, β, and &iotaδγ were thinking about hanging out in Emeryville. Somehow this spiralled outward to Tahoe, then Las Vegas, and then finally Seattle, and we were off, finding our way to the I-5 and heading north.

That was a lot of fun.

I make the memory needlessly complicated by the fact that I was hopelessly in love (or something) with α Of course, I hadn't said a goddamn word. I just kind of hung around her like a doomed white dwarf star circling a voracious black hole. Bad things were destined to happen to me.

α is one of the smartest women I've ever met. When I first met her, she totally hit me with this wonderful vibe of naiéve innocence and almost childlike wonder, combined with well-practiced sarcasm and cynicism. I think maybe she embodied what would eventually become my core philosophy: hope for the best, but expect the worst. In that way, she was always prepared. She planned things practically years in advance, aware of almost all the ways that things could go wrong, yet giving little thought about the eventuality of failure. Somehow, things would go her way, one way or another, and you got this sense of inevitability. It wasn't like she manipulated anything. Things would just fall into place.

She, for example, met her future husband when we were 17 or 18. They were married by the time we were 25. There were a lot of interesting twists and turns along the way, but when me or β or &iotaδγ reflect upon it, it doesn't seem like it could've turned out any other way.

That was the mystique she held for me.

Oh. Did I mention that she is beautiful?

I was, to be frank, fucked. I could go on and on, and I probably won't ever properly explicate how she brought glimmer of light to the dark recesses of my soul.

Anyway. Back to the story. So we're heading up to the California-Oregon border, and I'd volunteered for the first leg of the trip. We'd left Berkeley around 8 pm and we were passing Mt. Shasta around midnight. I-5 climbs up into the mountains and gets a little winding. And this is probably the brightest I've ever seen the stars.

By this time β and ιδγ are fast asleep in the back seat. α stays awake to keep me company. I don't remember whatever silly, meaningless things I told her, but I just remember this vast sense of wonder, this feeling of infinite potentiality and possibility.

Then there was that time I caught her eyes while we all gazed at Puget Sound, and it's interesting what sort of traps hope can lead you into.

For some reason, though, earlier today, I had thought about the fact that if α wasn't a woman, or maybe if I wasn't a guy, we might've been seriously best friends. Or maybe if I wasn't stupid and didn't fall in love with her.

I found myself reminiscing about that one year after graduating from college, when I finally decided to skip town and go home in defeat. α and ε had started dating, and I felt like a worthless, pointless third wheel. That, and the fact that I didn't have a job or a place to live. But even as I wallowed in my despair, she sent me a card telling me that she missed me.

Now that all this time has passed, and knowing now how things have turned out, I can think about that and find it touching, and not have it dredge up all sorts of insanities from the depths of my soul.

It is what it is.

There are probably only a couple of other memories that come to mind easily.

There was ρ's birthday, where we went to the beach and played in the waves, and I remember being 8 years old again. Nevermind the fact that I am hopelessly infatuated with ρ. I mean, these things happen, or more likely in my case, don't happen, and I've stopped letting it get to me. Most of the time.

There was that time after α and ε had gotten married, and another woman I was into had gotten together with one of my good friends, when I pretty much gave up, and found myself being slapped upside the head by the metaphoric hand of God. Nothing makes you appreciate life like almost getting killed by forces of nature.

There was that time that my brother and my sister had decided to drive up to the Bay Area (I was only there temporarily for a month) and I watched the sun rise while they slept. That's probably the closest I've gotten to the feeling of Home in a long time.

I'm sure there are more.

On a professional angle, there are two times where I was glad that I was proven wrong. One was when I accidentally ran into this 28 year old woman whom I had admitted for acute liver failure a month back. I had heard she had gotten intubated while in the ICU, and that she had died, but here she was, post-transplant.

The other was, again, acute liver failure, this time a little baby who spontaneously decided to start bleeding all over the place. Somehow, she ended up not needing a transplant.

Who says there aren't miracles?

But in the end, none of this changes anything. We are who we are destined to become, I think, and I guess most of my life isn't so much about lost opportunity, as it is failing to accept the impending reality. Or some sort of shit like that.


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