July 1, 2016

Life continues to go on (, , , , , )

by fluffy at 12:28 AM

A summary for people who don't follow me on Twitter or Tumblr and have missed out on all of my GLORIOUS TALKING ABOUT MY LIFE:

  • Got rid of the Beetle, bought a new(!) Mazda3. It's a lot of fun.
  • Am getting better about driving on freeways again (it helps that the Mazda3 is so much fun to drive and has a bunch of safety features that make me feel way more comfortable with driving on the freeway)
  • Work is going great, except my wrists suck pretty bad and I haven't been able to draw or work on music very much
  • But work is trying to help me out and I'm taking two weeks off soon and if that's not enough I'll look into medical leave
  • For the first of those weeks I'll be in NYC for Song Fight Live, come see me at the Sidewalk Cafe NY on Sunday July 17! (probably, there's a small chance I might end up at the other show on the 16th instead but that seems unlikely, but the lineup as shown on the Sidewalk site is complete fiction right now)
  • Oh and accompanying me will be Spud (on bass) and Paul (on drums), and Paul is probably my oldest friend at this point (we go back to when we were like 12!) and we haven't performed together since a single what-were-we-thinking show back in (I want to say) 200...2? so that's pretty cool
  • One of my cats keeps on shitting on the carpet and I'm pretty sure it's Werner
  • Oh uh I finally came out to friends and family and coworkers and transitioned legally and changed my name and gender markers, I guess that's kind of big news?

February 21, 2016

Nominal (, , )

by fluffy at 3:45 AM

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted here. Tumblr still doesn't have any reasonable way of doing friends-only entries and I don't want to post this on there/Twitter/etc.

So lately I've been really wanting to actually be out of the closet for coworkers, family, etc. and it felt like the thing getting in the way for that is my name. "Well I haven't decided on a name yet but please use these pronouns because [reasons]."

So, I've been cogitating and ruminating on names a lot lately, and I think I'm about ready to settle on Jayden (or some other spelling of it). It was a known name in 1978, although it didn't become gender-neutral until sometime in the late 80s/early 90s, but that's okay. I'm also thinking I'll change my last name, probably to Noel (my paternal grandmother Helen's maiden name).

(yes my paternal grandmother's name was Helen Noel, no not that one)

I don't give a crap about a middle name but if I have to pick one I'd probably go with Cohen (my maternal grandmother's maiden name) or Quentin or something.

Anyway that's what's up with me. Oh and my wrists fucking suck again. Fucking fuck. I'm probably going to quit the software industry and do my own thing for a while (music, art, and personal software projects). Gotta hold out until September if I'm going to maximize my bonus payouts though.

April 17, 2015

Current wrist stuff (, )

by fluffy at 5:15 PM

So I'm in a lot of pain again and my usual techniques aren't working. So I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon today, and got the following feedback:

  • The Internet is wrong about tendinosis (among other things)
  • The forearm exercises I'm doing will be helpful, but only after I get proper physical therapy
  • There's more, better stretches I should be doing
  • Gentle, warm, self-massage: good. Massage therapy: bad.
  • While I might be in a lot of pain right now there isn't that much to worry about, and I just need to take it easier (but there's no particular reason to take a leave of absence just yet)
  • I should keep using software to enforce typing breaks, which is a really good idea; for some reason the surgeon had never heard of this before which is a little alarming...
  • Pretty much all hand/wrist therapy is "no better than placebo" so it's a matter of finding what works for one's individual pain

She gave me a much better splint for sleeping in, and scheduled a nerve study in case it really is carpal tunnel syndrome (but it probably isn't), referred me to a physical therapist, and left me feeling underwhelmed and meh. Hopefully the PT will help. I'm pretty much at my wits' end here.

February 13, 2015

I need to stay awake (, )

by fluffy at 12:57 AM

Last November I got a wake-up call regarding my health. I was pretty good at following a low-sugar diet for a while, but lately I've been backsliding and ingesting more sugar again. And now I'm getting some of the same symptoms as back then: crawling skin, dry mouth, frequent urination, water retention, and so on.

I've mostly been good about things, usually opting for low- or no-sugar options when available, but today I drank a soda and ate some jellybeans and had way-too-sweet Teriyaki for lunch and I'm back to feeling crappy.

Wake-up calls are all well and good, but I need to figure out how not to just hang up the phone and go back to bed.

November 21, 2014

Need to make some lifestyle changes (, )

by fluffy at 6:40 PM

Lately I've been having a lot of issues with fatigue, dizziness, muscle soreness, and feelings of crawling skin as well as occasional hot flushes and so on. I thought it might be a hormonal imbalance (what with my hormones always being fairly precarious) but I got some bloodwork done, and in reality, the problem is that I get too much sugar and too little exercise and I'm at a point where I need to make some pretty major changes before things go completely haywire.

March 1, 2014

Current state of the fluffy (, )

by fluffy at 10:34 AM

So it's been a month and a half since my surgery. How am I doing?

January 15, 2014

Freaking out a little (, )

by fluffy at 10:43 PM

In about 11 hours I will wake up and no longer have functioning genitalia.

October 9, 2013

Another year past (, )

by fluffy at 12:00 AM

I still miss him, and I still hurt. I still have so many regrets for what happened, and for what it led to, and for the anger and resentment that came about because of long-simmering things finally being brought to the forefront by a stupid, avoidable tragedy that set so many people against each other.

I'm still healing, I'm still asking questions that can't be answered, but I'm also finally feeling like things are getting better, even if right now I'm reminiscing over the worst of it and feeling just as horrible as I did one and two years ago.

I'm still sorry for anyone I hurt directly or indirectly, and I just hope they can understand that as much pain as they were in, I was in at least as much — he was my boyfriend, my emotional anchor, my reason to keep going — and being subjected to even more as a target of grief, anguish, and misdirected anger from people who thought I would have answers when all I had was more questions that I didn't even know how to ask.

I hope that if anyone still feels like I've wronged them that they can at least forgive me, or failing that, that they can discuss things with me, in private, as a fellow human being who also feels pain and loss.

March 23, 2013

InsufficientOxygenException (, , , )

by fluffy at 5:29 AM

I had a dream in which I was sitting on a train and talking to an ostensible coworker (nobody I know in real life) about programming languages and some of the interesting stuff going on in performance evaluation, when suddenly she asked me, "Dude, are you okay?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Then why are you turning bat-cave black?"

I suddenly realized that I was turning blue with hypoxia, and promptly woke up to find myself not breathing.

After a few seconds of hyperventilation, my first thought was: "Uncaught exception propagated up the stack."

November 1, 2012

Wake-up lights (, )

by fluffy at 8:48 AM

The big problem I have in Seattle is that starting in mid-October or so, it's dark out when I wake up (and I'm not exactly an early riser) and gets dark early, and this continues until April or so. It makes it very difficult for me to wake up and face the day. So I finally decided to try out a wake-up light.

This morning I got to use it for the first time, and while it might be a first-time placebo effect, the difference was (if you'll pardon the expression) like night and day — I woke up well before the dawn simulation completed, and felt energetic and ready to go! As an added bonus, the annoying birdsong that it plays when it finishes the cycle caused both cats to rush over to check out what was going on. (I have since changed it to use a radio station.)

Amazon carries a few others, including a somewhat cheaper halogen model, and they all work under the same principle. If you want to be especially cheap about it you could always just get a regular lamp and hook it up to a timer, although having the light slowly fade in was probably a huge part of why it worked so well (I actually woke up pretty early on in the fade-in process but I was able to just slowly rise with it).

I'd say the downside is that the built-in wake-up sounds are annoying and shrill and way too repetitive, but its FM tuner is pretty okay. It's not exactly hi-fi, but it gets the job done.

It's also nice that the front panel LEDs are adjustable in brightness, and so unlike on my previous (cheap) alarm clock, I don't need to obscure the clock to keep it from burning my retinas while I try to sleep.

October 30, 2012

CalmClinic: how much of a scam is it? ()

by fluffy at 11:06 AM

This morning I had another major panic episode and its resulting stomach problems due to some personal-life stuff I'd rather not get into, so I took a sick day off from work and started searching for more anxiety treatment options online. I came across this site called Calm Clinic, which just provides a bunch of vague information and meaningless self-evaluation tests, and every step along the way you have to watch a ridiculously long video that just says the same things over, and over, and over again.

It's also pretty distasteful that all of the stock photography showing anxiety uses women models, but every video starts out saying how this is only for MEN because MEN deal with stress in different, MANLY ways, and so on [edit: Never mind, it turns out that it always does this to match whichever gender you start out the survey with, go figure; they didn't have a neutrois option so I took the default option of course].

I did bother to passively listen to one of the videos long enough until it finally got to the point of saying "and I just want a simple investment of $67" and just shut it off.

Anyway, they're constantly trying to sell "the triad technique" but the only information I can find about it online is vague platitudes and various competing anxiety therapy practitioners saying they don't know anything about it, and random forum posts with names like "dave58372" espousing how wonderful it is. I can't even find torrents of the materials online, meaning that nobody who's been foolish enough to make the "investment" has felt like it should be shared with anyone else.

Also an update: since I checked it again with a female profile, it's kind of telling that for men they have Ryan Rivera and for women they have Rachel Ramos, saying exactly the same things, about how this was a personal discovery and giving all sorts of impossible-to-verify claims about how it's changed their lives, but how this is ONLY FOR [WO]MEN because [WO]MEN deal with stress in different ways and so on. (Also they seem to not know the difference between "quiet" and "quite.")

Total scam. Why am I still thinking about this? (Because I really need help, is why.)

October 8, 2012

One year on (, )

by fluffy at 8:40 AM

It's hard to believe it's been a year already, and at the same time it's hard to believe it's only been a year.

Chris was a very important person in my life. He helped me to feel a lot better about myself. He always encouraged me to do better and be a better person. At the same time he also encouraged me to just be myself. He loved the things that made me a unique individual, and gave me a safe outlet for expressing those things without having to worry about judgement from others. Above all else he just wanted me to be happy, even if part of it was based on something he couldn't understand.

He was a complicated person, himself, and he had a complicated love life to match. Some of that complexity — a part I didn't know about, a part nobody knew about beyond the slightest inkling held by his closest friends — was eventually part of his undoing. His last few days on this planet were marked by a sudden and drastic shift, and he must have been in such hell already that the end must have been a huge relief for him. All that anyone could ask afterwards was, "Why?"

Our relationship itself had its ups and downs. We usually saw each other on the weekends, but we lived and worked on opposite ends of the peninsula, and sometimes it was just too convenient for us to not feel like making the journey to see each other. In a lot of ways it was a relationship of convenience. Neither of us really wanted to make the big move to live together, mostly out of practical concerns.

Even two years ago I had wanted to move back to Seattle, but I decided that my relationship with Chris was too important for that, and so I saved the idea for a rainy day. I kind of forgot about it until a few months ago. As luck would have it, I would end up unpacking certain boxes of things in my new home two days before the worst anniversary of my life, and then see a widely-circulated article on the Internet that hit too close to home, and all these feelings I've been trying to deal with for the last year have bubbled over after being kept back too long.

I think it's fair to say that the past year has been the worst of my life, and I can only hope it will get better from here.

I miss him so much.

July 31, 2012

Closure in triplicate (, )

by fluffy at 8:45 PM

Today was my last day at Sony (again). It was a little bittersweet to say goodbye to the people I've worked with for as many as five years, but I'm happy to be moving along.

Then I had my last appointment with my doctor, who was glad to hear about my health problems basically disappearing two weeks ago when I put in my two weeks' notice.

Then I had my last appointment with my therapist. I got a little misty-eyed when instead of scheduling the next appointment I thanked him for helping me through so many tough times over the last few years.

Also, I already have people lining up to look at my condo even though it isn't technically on the market yet. Clearly this is a good situation to be in. Maybe it'll be sold before the movers are even done packing up. Wouldn't that be something?

Anyway. Tomorrow I go out museuming, and Thursday is the car maintenance extravaganza. Other than that my schedule is pretty much free until Wednesday. In case anyone wants to do things. (Any day I'm not doing things I'll hopefully be working on comics or music stuff.)

July 18, 2012

You can go home again (, , )

by fluffy at 11:40 PM

I guess because I like keeping records of major life events, I'd might as well post something here about how

  • I had been missing Seattle dearly ever since I left five years ago
  • I went back to Seattle last week for Song Fight Live, as planned since March or something
  • A couple weeks before that trip I happened to be contacted by a recruiter there for a very interesting job doing research in the field of high-performance distributed computing (among other things)
  • The interview went well
  • The offer came quickly
  • heck yeah I'm moving back to Seattle

I put in my two weeks' notice yesterday, and as soon as I'd talked with my managers I felt like the vise grip that had been wrapped around my chest for the last two years had finally released, and I could breathe again. I'm also feeling a clarity and an almost overwhelming lack of anxiety that feels so foreign, and so good, right now. Even thinking about all the things that need to happen (sell my condo, buy another one up there, how should I get Werner moved, etc.) isn't making me even the least bit anxious.

I'm moving back to Seattle!

July 12, 2012

Anxiety ()

by fluffy at 10:44 AM

For the last few years or so I've had pretty bad anxiety problems, which have been getting worse and worse (and Chris's sudden death last October was a major trauma after which it got really bad). It's always been brought on by increasing levels of stress, fears over my ability to work (which then forms a vicious cycle), and worries about other peoples' safety. One of my most consistent panic attack triggers seems to be anything which makes me think about how my cat might be imperiled, for example (such as when I was remodelling my kitchen and Werner was sniffing around the unplugged microwave when it was on the floor, or while visiting Jenn and Mike in Seattle and seeing their "rescue pets inside" sticker by their front door).

Other anxiety triggers are whenever people are talking about their own stress or health issues, or about really bad situations that other people have gotten themselves into, and so on.

I was briefly on Prozac to try treating it at a neurochemical level, but that only made the panic attacks more frequent and much more intense.

I've been seeing a therapist for several years now and he's been somewhat helpful, but he still generally takes the approach of telling me to calm down and think rationally about things, which is like telling a depressed person to cheer up.

The various non-medical anxiety treatment regimens I see online are all about convincing yourself that you're safe, but safety isn't generally the underlying cause of my anxiety, so I'm not sure how convincing myself that I'm safe is particularly productive. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is supposedly effective for treating "all forms of anxiety disorder" but everything I read up on it indicates that it's about desensitizing people to phobias. How can I desensitize myself to worries about whether my cat is okay or whether someone I used to know is drinking himself to death and screwing up everyone else's lives around him? When I'm driving and have an anxiety attack, it's not anxiety about my own safety, but that I'll do something that hurts someone else. And many of my anxiety attacks are just self-fulfilling meta-anxiety, like "I'm stuck in this meeting that is very vicious and it would be terrible if I got an anxiety attack right now — and there it is."

Sometimes I try to detangle what's going on at the root of all this and it always seems to come down to the fact that my career tends to be fairly stressful and I push myself really hard to over-perform, and I wonder if I could switch careers, but anything else I want to do I'm not particularly good at and even if I were an expert in the field I wouldn't pull down enough income to pay for my lifestyle, which of course has gotten much more expensive due to making so much income in the field which has destroyed me so badly to begin with.

I like to think that winning the lottery would fix all those problems, but then I think about how useless I'd feel and how I'd just be a leech who is having a good life due to pure luck, and I feel like I'd only feel worthless and like I wouldn't deserve anything I had. (Then again, I usually feel that way now, too, so maybe that wouldn't change much anyway.)

For now I'm just taking lorazepam for acute issues (when I can predict there will be a problem, anyway) and when an attack does happen I try to breathe deep and relax and count until I forget to keep counting but that's getting less and less effective.

Sometimes I think I just need a one-month vacation from reality. (But then I worry about what I'd be coming back to, job-wise and otherwise.)

tl;dr: I am a mess.

June 16, 2012

Billing morass (, , )

by fluffy at 9:00 AM

Last November 4 I got an ambulance ride due to another major panic attack combined with a bowel impaction. The drivers didn't really treat it like an emergency and just acted like a really crappy taxi ride, as always. I'd have been better off just having the friends who were staying with me drive me there. Or just finding a way of calming down before it got to the point that I felt I needed medical attention.

Every other month since then I've gotten the same bill from the San Fransico fire department, in the amount of $1786, with the message, "San Francisco Fire Department provided you emergency medical services on the above mentioned service date. At this time, we have not yet obtained insurance information. If you have insurance or participate in any program which will pay for these services, please complete and sign the reverse side of this bill and return in the enclosed envelope."

Of course, every time I've gotten that bill I've immediately returned with my insurance information, and the last few times I've also enclosed a letter stating that this is the Nth time that I've done such, and I have never gotten any response from my insurance regarding eligibility which indicates that they never actually submitted the claim.

On Monday I guess I need to just call them on the phone and see what the hell is going on here. I really don't need this hanging over my head like everything else. (But I'm also not willing to just pay the whole $1786 myself. I can afford it, sure, but there's several matters of principle at work here.)

February 10, 2012

How to reduce stress (, )

by fluffy at 11:12 AM

I have been a lot less stressed ever since making the following changes in my lifestyle:

  • Installing Comment Blocker on Firefox (and Shut Up on Chrome, although I'm back to Firefox full-time)
  • Turning off all email notifications for general-purpose comment systems (Disqus, TypePad, etc.) that I can
  • Sending all emails from comment systems that can't have notifications disabled (YouTube, Blogger, etc.) directly to the trash
  • Blocking/ignoring/gagging people on IRC and MUCKs who infuriate me
  • Not following blogs, LJs, etc. that have turned into nothing but whining or trolling
  • Not following webcomics that have stopped being entertaining
  • When something still manages to get me angry, taking a deep breath and thinking about how little it matters

December 31, 2011

Year in review (, , , , , , )

by fluffy at 2:30 PM

The year began just hours after my grandmother died.

November 15, 2011

Differences between American and Japanese emergency rooms (, )

by fluffy at 7:23 AM

In Tokyo, the emergency room is staffed with enough people that everyone has multiple attendants always taking care of them, whereas in the US it can often be hours between check-ins by the staff.

In an American emergency room, it is up to the patient to undress themselves and put on a gown; if they are unable to do that, the staff will cut the clothing off. In Japan, they do as much as possible without removing any clothing, and are exceptionally conscientious about the patient's comfort.

In a Japanese emergency room, the language barrier is something they attempt to overcome and make sure that everyone knows the same amount of information; in an American emergency room, the attending staff tends to not communicate or even listen to the patient.

In an American emergency room, regardless of what's going on they always hook you up to a saline drip, while in a Japanese emergency room, that is considered a treatment that they only perform when it appears to be necessary.

In an American emergency room, if you have to use the bathroom it takes quite a lot of time before an attending nurse even finds out that you need to, and they just give you a jar to pee in before disappearing. In a Japanese emergency room, they accompany you to the bathroom and make sure that you're doing okay.

An American emergency room bills you later, via the convoluted process of American medical insurance. A Japanese emergency room either bills your insurance directly and asks you to pay the difference (if you have insurance), or just bills you directly and has you pay before you leave (and provides receipts for reimbursement with foreign insurance claims later). Fortunately, the overall uninsured bill of a Japanese emergency room is less than the copayments involved in an American emergency room, so even if one doesn't get reimbursed you still end up ahead.

An American emergency room is doing good if they keep track of your name and mailing address. A Japanese emergency room issues you a personalized smart card that keeps track of your medical history with them for easy access later.

On the other hand, an American emergency room understands that people come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, whereas in a Japanese emergency room, the beds are very small and cramped, the slippers they give you for going to the bathroom (you don't wear shoes!) are tiny, and the adhesive on the tape sticks exceptionally well to a hirsute-American's arms.

Neither one can figure out what the hell is wrong with me.

November 6, 2011

Health issue, need advice (, )

by fluffy at 10:46 AM

The last week or so has been an endless cavalcade of health problems and ER visits which have led to absolutely no resolution or anything feeling like recovery. Instead of trying to re-explain this to everyone individually I'll try to piece together a timeline here, so maybe that'll be useful.

12:27 PM So, after I wrote this I went to the grocery store and bought some smoothie fruit and some easy-to-make-small-portions-of food. I had a smoothie and felt a lot better, and now I actually have a decent appetite again, and I am able to eat and I'm feeling a hell of a lot better. But I'm keeping this here in case things get worse again.

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