Friday, June 13, 2014

Eulogy

I have been thinking of things to say at my dad's funeral for months.

Jeremy and I booked a flight to Atlanta for the end of June. We wanted to be there sooner; our original plan was to arrive somewhere around Father's Day. The girls would be with us, and they would be able to see their grandpa; talk his ear off about things such as mermaids, and unabashedly point out that he looks way different than he used to. Unfortunately, our plans changed, and we had to push the trip out by two weeks.

Dad died in home hospice three days after we finalized our reservations.

Naturally, the dates, etc. just couldn't be changed, and purchasing additional plane tickets to attend the memorial would result in financial ruin (even with bereavement fares).

Anyway, I know that if I did somehow manage to be there I would more than likely be expected to get up and say something. After all, Dad and I always got on so well. Then a verbal mess would kick off with a nervous glance around the room, and a disclaimer about little ones and language. I don't think it's possible for me to go even a day without using a single swear word. Plus, you know, dick and fart jokes forever, since that's how my dad and I rolled.

So, then... I'd probably launch into a diatribe about how Dad was sort of dickish, and very over-opinionated. His opinion was law, even if there was overwhelming evidence that he was wrong. He had a tendency to be belligerent, so trying to correct him about said opinion was a pain in the ass because he would totally fight somebody over that shit. A lot of times it was best to just agree to disagree, sweep it under the rug, and move on. He was incredibly hard-headed, so mentioning that would practically be required, since that personality trait went hand-in-hand with that whole over-opinionated thing, and lead to about 90% of our clashes. Maybe I would mumble something about "square one," which was the source of much eye-rolling between the two of us. Then, I'd likely go into how I was a cliché -- daddy's little girl or whatever. (But not in a creepy way.) I'd bring up some good memories from my childhood, like how he gave me piggy back rides, and taught me how to swim, and took me to see The Little Mermaid. We would take walks to the grocery, and he would always give me a dandelion along the way (usually on the way home). On Saturday afternoons he would painstakingly take the time to sit me down and blow dry the ridiculously long hair I sported when I was wee one.

To everyone's chagrin I would acknowledge how dysfunctional our family was (is), because I'd make it a point to say that no matter how bad things got, he always did his best to make everything as normal as possible. I would talk about how welcoming he was to people -- how he would always offer folks food when they came over. Plantains, eggplants, rice, whatever. If we had it, he would offer it. He liked eating, and would speak very fondly of BLTs and Katz's Delicatessen back in New York.


I always tried to get Dad to come see me (my schedule was much less flexible than his) so that he could get away from everything and relax for a few days. He had the unfortunate habit of playing the martyr; he would take care of everyone with little to no regard for himself. It's part of why we only saw each other four times after I left Georgia: he felt the need to stay put and take care of everyone, lest the house, or his other affairs, suddenly fall into chaos.

At this point I would likely hit a lull; I'm hardly eloquent, so my words would more than likely fail me (if they hadn't already). I'd maybe stammer about how he helped teach Munchkin how to walk, or something like that. There would even be a chance I'd blurt out some discreetly snarky line meant to call out anyone that should have cared more while he was still with us. We always hosted barbecues and parties, with plenty of guests: How many of those people were around when he fell ill?

I'd start to ramble about how things were when he got sick -- about how we'd still talk on the phone quite a lot, and how, for the most part, he managed to stay in pretty good spirits. Of course, his jovial attitude, and our conversations did eventually begin to wane. Soon, I kept being told that I NEEDED to go see him; he looked much worse than he sounded, he was fading; the cancer was eating away at him too fast, etc. Seeing me would make him so happy. "Here, talk to him, tell him whatever-whatever," because, somehow, I was thought to have some sort of magical, cathartic influence over him. If only that were true. After awhile he started to make alarming statements -- like when he said I would cry when I saw him.

Much to maybe everyone's surprise (I would give the room a look) I walked into that hospital room and I didn't cry.

BUT.

I did have a hard time watching him struggle to do simple things, such as turn his body even a little bit.

For whatever reason, I've become something of a nervous talker so, if I were to even make it to this point without being ushered off the podium, I 'd more than likely start to babble on about the short trip I took over Memorial Day weekend. Everyone thought it was the end, and when I talked to Dad before he went into the hospital he freaked me the fuck out. So, I found a way to get on an incredibly uncomfortable red eye to go to him. I insisted on staying with him in the hospital, but ultimately wasn't sure if my presence accomplished anything. I couldn't help in any capacity, really. I tried, but I failed miserably. He also kicked me out of the room for a little while because he was embarrassed and frustrated that his frail state wouldn't allow him make it to the loo in time to avoid disaster. He yelled at the nurses too though, so whatever. It was nothing personal, and he apologized shortly thereafter.


Knowing me, my brain would hiccup yet again, and I would shift gears to our last conversation, which was on the 7th. He actually called me, which was amazing, since he was always too tired to sit and chat. Seeing his name on my caller ID was legitimately exciting. Like... it was on par with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. Yeah, I'm lame.

He sounded hella exhausted, so we didn't speak for long -- maybe about fifteen minutes or so. I was glad to tell him that, after a few setbacks, Jeremy and I and the girls were finally going to get out there to see him. He said, "three weeks is a long time..." and gave me a line about how we're supposed to "jump over" our setbacks. (I let him know that I tried, but tripped.)

I think that, if I were to lose my shit even a little, it would be here. If I decided to keep prattling on, that is. I don't think I would full on cry, though. Conceal, don't feel, don't let it show -- especially in a room full of people, some of which being near or complete strangers.

The last thing that Dad told me -- before we said "I love you" and "bye" -- was that he would wait for us (Jeremy and I and the kiddos) on the couch, but that obviously didn't happen so now I won't be able to look at any couch the same way again. Especially not my mom's, since that's where he said he would be.

Regardless of whether or not I were to include that bit in my "speech," I would close out with some cliché (but sincere!) line about how Dad's not suffering anymore, which is infinitely more important than, say, waiting on the sofa. Like... he'll be missed; I miss him so damn much already, but at least he can fucking move without the help of two or three people.

That would be it, I think. I'd reiterate that he was a good person, and I would go sit down, and I would wonder what kind of couches there are in the after, if they are comfortable, and if he's sitting on one, eating a BLT.



(He's more than likely shaking his fist at me for not attending the memorial, while, at the same time, not wanting Jeremy and I to completely break our bank to attend the occasion. He was always really, really cheap..)


Monday, May 19, 2014

Optimism, pessimism, and realism

I once wrote about my dad, and how frustrating it is when he doesn't answer his phone. That sentiment hasn't faded one bit -- especially now.

See, my dad is dying of liver cancer.

He was officially diagnosed back in February, after an oft pushed back check up abruptly turned into a week long hospital stay, but his sickness was readily apparent for quite some time. After years of drinking and smoking very heavily, a cancer diagnosis (with a side dish of cirrhosis of said liver) is far from surprising. To think that he would have somehow avoided these particular afflictions would have been idiotic.

I'm aware that my above statement is incredibly bleak; after all, there's no way that anyone can know the ultimate outcome just yet. Dear Old Dad is on some radiation meds, and is supposed to undergo a TACE procedure soon.* There's also talk of being put on the organ transplant list. He doesn't feel horrible nor is he in any way incapacitated, so, hey, that's a great sign, right? Perhaps everything will fall into place, and this will all go away: he will triumph over his illness, or maybe the radiation pills will grant him super powers and add ten to fifteen years to his lifespan.

But as time goes on it is painfully obvious that an extended life span is not in the cards.

Now, I know I tend to automatically jump to the worst-case scenario imaginable when it comes to basically everything ever: I worry to the point of making myself sick -- even when logic tells me that I'm being ridiculous. With that being said, logic is telling me that I'm not being pessimistic. I'm being realistic.

At 64-years of age, my dad is neither young, nor spry. The mass in his liver is 9cm in diameter (on a side note Nacho is only 1.2cm and, to me, feels gigantic), and there's no telling how long it has been there. I'm going to guess that it has been around for awhile though, given how he began to drop weight at an alarming rate some time ago. I heard a lot about how the pounds were just dropping off, but, just... damn. My mom, who is so technologically inept that it borders on comical, finally figured out how to send picture messages to my phone... and I almost told her to stop sending them. My dad looks like an animated skeleton, like a ghoul. Each message was like a sucker punch to the gut, and it's taking quite a lot for me to keep from grabbing my phone and hitting DELETE DELETE DELETE until my fingers fall off or the fucking thing somehow explodes.


In the last few weeks things have gotten pretty bad. I have been told that dad has dropped even more weight, and severe edema in his legs has him almost unable to walk. He's been sleeping a lot, and his appetite -- which was always pretty strong -- is beginning to wane (although he personally told me that the claims of him not eating were "simply untrue." I suspect he was lying, but I digress). He sounds perpetually tired, and each time we talk he comes across as more and more exhausted.

I am now constantly being told that I need to go see him -- I have to get out there. He's getting worse. The cancer is taking over quickly (it has metastasized to his adrenal glands), he doesn't have much longer. Bring the girls so he can see them again, you need to come out. Phone calls from relatives whom I haven't spoken to in Idk how long reiterating that he's in dire straits. I want to get out there as soon as I can, but the timing is fucking terrible: I have been in the throes of moving hell since the end of March. I had to pack up an entire house for an interstate move in the blink of an eye, while carrying out the normal duties of a stay-at-home mom, on top of a writing gig for Shoryuken.com (I never did write about that, did I...) that I ultimately had to quit. If I could give up the Final Fantasy VI wiki I took on for IGN back in January I would; it has been disgustingly neglected because between everything I just can't focus for shit. But, whatever, let's get back to the main idea.

A few days ago my dad lamented being useless and unable to function because of his legs, because of how tired the simple task of eating makes him; he said he was "kaput," and told me it was something we would talk about another time. He has told me that seeing me would be nice, and that it would be great in time for Father's Day. Although our last exchange was very slightly less bleak, he told me that I might cry when I see him. (To which I replied "I know you look horrible, and I've been preparing.") The conversation as a whole left me bummed out: I can hear the sickness in his voice; how the cancer is eating away at him, and how his depression has given way to resignation.

Sigh.

Fuck cancer.

*I started writing this not long after he was diagnosed, so that whole thing probably won't happen. Also, he feels fucking awful, and is clearly much less optimistic about his chances at survival.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My experience with Burial At Sea Episode 2 summarized with animated gifs

March 25th was practically a goddamn holiday for me because it meant that the final installment of BioShock: Infinite's DLC, Burial At Sea Episode 2, would be available for download. The conclusion of Elizabeth's story (which took a rather interesting turn in Part 1 that left me with a lot of feelings) was nigh and it would be grand! Not gonna lie: I traded my usual Kermit-flailing for a variety of different happy dances.




(Okay, I can't move like Leo, but whatever -- you get my point.)

Jeremy and I got started, and I was immediately pulled in because damn -- even though Irrational had released a snippet that showcased some of the things I was seeing, it was INTRIGUING. We were now in Elizabeth's shoes! ELIZABETH'S SHOES!!! How would her ability to open tears impact gameplay? Surely, it was going to be hella dope. (Nope...)


But there was that thing that was revealed very early on.


From there, things were still interesting enough to keep me engrossed/curious about where it was all going to go, but it started going downhill.


Then came that one thing that was fucking HORRIFYING.



Not long after that came... the end...? Seriously?






Buuuuuut, at least I got my Lutece fix, so there's that.





All gifs courtesy of giphy, except for that last one, which came from http://the-lutece-tear.tumblr.com/

Monday, March 17, 2014

Contributing versus condemning: a late-night ode to being annoyed with sexist comments and questionable logic

Hi. I'm terribly sleepy, but I'm a writer and I write about things that are on my mind. (Usually.)

Every time I sit down to watch (fighting game) tournament streams, I see something like this:

You'll probably have to enlarge this. Sorry.

Every.

Damn.

Time.

Like... I turned on the Ultimate Marvel stream for Final Round 17, was called away for a little while, and when I came back this was literally the first thing I saw. It's no secret that sexism tends to really stand out in the FGC (fighting game community) because of how especially male-dominated the scene is, but goddamn. This girl (Persia) knows her shit; the comments when she's off-screen are usually bad enough: jeers about how Sp00ky only has her on mic because it's "politically correct," or other such things like that. But then she's shown for, like, two minutes tops, and even though she's clearly well-established and very knowledgeable, the stream monsters go haywire with misogyny and stupidity. I like that one guy that's saying not to fuck with her, though --  kudos to him.

Somebody on Twitter told me that by capturing and tweeting this image I'm giving it more life than it deserves, and am therefore contributing to the problem; I'm giving the people who say those things attention. To me, that sounds too much like another way of saying, "ignore it and they'll stop."

And, while I sort of see what this person was possibly maybe trying to say I have to disagree. Under such logic, ignoring violent crime will deter criminals because they're not getting attention. Condemning a behaviour sure as hell isn't the same as promoting it, and talking about/acknowledging an issue that has already been touched on by others before me doesn't necessarily mean that it's being perpetuated (though I can see how, in some cases, it could be).

Nevertheless, I'm tired, my finger has just started bleeding everywhere, and seeing these stupid comments over and over and over again is getting old.

Fucking gorps.

Friday, January 31, 2014

"With My Eyes Closed"

Five years ago today, I was jarred from sleep by the worst, most horrifying noise I have ever heard in my life. I can't immediately recall it, which is probably for the best, and words can't really do it justice: it was this... "shriek" I guess. Like I said, words won't do much to truly describe the sound.

I literally jumped out of bed; it was around 4:30 in the morning and pitch-black in the apartment. I thought that, maybe, a then two-year old Midget had gotten lost in the dark on her way to our bedroom or something, but I quickly discovered that wasn't the case. Slightly confused, but still in fight-or-flight mode, I flipped on a light and spotted the source of the noise.

One of our two cats, Nagi, was very clearly in some kind of respiratory distress. I felt along his chest, his belly, and I even stuffed a finger in his mouth (ewww...) to see if he was choking on something, but there were no discernible signs of anything that could be causing harm anywhere. In that moment I was completely helpless; even though I had all sorts of animal training under my belt I couldn't figure out what was going on. But even if I had come up with something, it wouldn't have mattered -- he was dead within two minutes.

Even though I can totally wrap this up without extra details, I feel like I should provide some sort of background on the Little Man With the FACE to better express why today's date gets to me so much. I mean, other than waking up to the sound of death, because I don't think one could ever truly forget such a thing. 

Nagi was born in my parents' basement when I was seventeen. (Seventeen. Holy shit.) He and I got on well enough, but he ultimately chose Jeremy as his person, which was nothing short of adorable. Nagi was a good cat: He liked tomatoes, and, as a kitten, he would HAUL ASS to get to Jeremy when he was called -- so take that, Tokyo. (As he got older he became much less spastic when responding to Jeremy's call, but the fact remains that he would always come.) He once swallowed a small chicken bone that fragmented and had to be surgically removed from his GI tract, which sucked, but makes for a somewhat amusing tale about the medical staff being unreasonably afraid of the guy. He would happily stand at the door to greet us when we each got home from work, smelled great (he always smelled of Jeremy's cologne or some kind of soap and/or deodorant), never once pooped outside of the litter box, and took to sleeping by my side after C-chan died.

Moving along, Nagi developed asthma about six-months before he died. Every now and then he would let out a little cough/wheeze, but, other than that, he had a clean bill of health. He was a little fat, and he was definitely lazy, but he was always bright-eyed and never showed any signs of having a serious illness (nothing ever showed up in his routine lab work, either). So, the question on everybody's mind was, "What HAPPENED?"

My former boss (the doctor at the local veterinary clinic) volunteered to perform a necropsy for me to determine the cause of death, and what he discovered was astounding. The source of the wheezing was not asthma; instead, a lobulated, cavitated mass -- called a thymoma (a tumor of the thymus gland) -- the size of his fist had grown behind Nagi's sternum. It appeared to have ruptured and bled out. Or, in simpler terms:

A tumor the size of an adult male's fist basically exploded in his chest.

That would be sort of metal if it wasn't so goddamn horrible.

Five full years later, and it still sucks. If Nagi were still alive, he would be a little over thirteen years old, which kind of blows my mind a little bit. He would probably be in my laundry basket right now, or maybe on the sofa, or, maybe even chasing Retard Cat up and down the house in a "WHO'S THE MASTER??!?!" (Sho'nuff!) kind of way. But, what sticks out most, is that all of us would have had time to prepare for the inevitable and actually say goodbye.

Fuck. 

Where did I put my Kleenex...?


----



Note: I couldn't really fit this into the main body of my post, but I feel it necessary to mention that a couple of friends bought me a bouquet of flowers to express their condolences. They were really pretty (the flowers, I mean. Not that those friends aren't, or whatever.), and that gesture totally trigger the feels because it was so thoughtful. If you ever read this, thanks again because that was awesome.