Blog Ramblings About Blog Ramblings, Excited To See Cousins, Need Permanent Trivia Ringer
Wednesday December 22nd 2010, 3:05 am
Filed under: Family, Me, Myself, and Reid, Who Knows?, Word Nerd

I’m quite certain that in blog writing, there’s a balance between a bulleted list of events and my encyclopedia-like verbosity. I haven’t quite figured that balance out yet, though. When I do, you’ll be the first to know!

Today Mom and I had–you know what, hang on a second. Don’t worry, I’ll remember where I was. Since I set my goal to write a blog or a tweet everyday, I’ve been referring to some people differently than I used to. For instance, I used to write, “my mom did such and such,” in posts, but I’ve started writing simply, “Mom did such and such.” I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. It’s a bit more personal to refer to people as what I know them as, and not define who they are or my relationship to them whenever they come up. And, truly, I’m writing this for myself to remember what it was like counting down to the end of chemo.

However, that being said, I have to acknowledge that you are reading this as well. I must also acknowledge that you, the reader, are ignorant of a lot of the information that I know. For instance, in this next part, I’m going to mention my Aunt Stacie. But if I just say “I’m mentioning Aunt Stacie,” you might not know who that is and get confused and quit reading my confusing blog and then decide my blog has soured you to reading altogether and then I will feel bad when, one day, you fail to read–and therefore fail to understand the serious mortal peril in which you have placed yourself by ignoring the “Watch For Hungry Alligators” sign in the bathroom.

So I’ll be toying around with that too. Lots of toying. All sorts of toying. I like toys.

I’m also reconsidering my use of the hyphen… okay, okay. I see you rolling your eyes. I just find punctuation interesting, that’s all!

…anyway, back to:
Mom and I had lunch with Aunt Stacie and Kerri, my academically gifted cousin who is being interviewed by Georgetown tomorrow. Most of the outlying members of Mom’s side of the family will be coming into town for Christmas over the next few days. I’m very excited to see all of my cousins who are coming in; only one will be missing. Well, there will actually be two cousins of our generation missing, but one is Rachel, who is traveling to Israel, and I tend to count her as my sibling rather than my cousin since that’s what she is. I’m excited to see those cousins who will be here, though. It’s been a really long time since we’ve had this many family members from Mom’s side all in the same place. Kristina and Ivan (my cousin and cousin-in-law, respectively) will be staying with us, which should be fun.

We had lunch, and that was neat to get to do since Kerri’s on winter break and Aunt Stacie had taken the day off from work. She had a great suggestion for where to donate all of the clothes I’ve cleared out of my closet and drawers. Dad’s going to drop it all off tomorrow for me at a center specifically for homeless teens. I counted everything up this evening as I got it ready to go and realized I had, by pure chance, selected 50 pairs of socks to donate. Now there are several questions here that you might be wondering to yourself, or if there’s someone in the room, you might be wondering to them. I will attempt to answer all such questions in this HFAQ (hypothetical frequently asked questions):

Q: Why are you bragging about donating clothes?
A: I’m not, I just want to remember where all my clothes went.

Q: Are you joking?
A: I wish I could say I was, but chemo has really–

Q: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Why are you bragging about giving away so many pairs of socks?
A: I’m not, I just thought it was a weird and mentionable that there happened to be exactly 50 pairs of socks.

Q: Why were you counting how many pairs of socks you were donating anyway?
A: Taxes. And OCD.

Q: How many pairs of socks are you keeping?
A: I don’t know; a lot.

Q: Why do you have so many socks in the first place that you can donate 50 pairs and still have “a lot?”
A: You know, you’re hypothetically kind of a jerk. This HFAQ is over.

Q: I’m sorry.
A: That’s all right, I didn’t mean to snap at you like that. You’re not really a jerk. Do you have any other questions?

Q: I ask the questions around here!
A: You jerk!

Mom, Dad and I played pub trivia this evening without half of our normal team; the Reimans are down in DR this week. We rounded up my worldly buddy Matt to play with us and the four of us managed to end up in second place for all three rounds. That’s a pretty nice showing anyway, but it was particularly good considering most of the questions were about Christmas. Matt, who is not Jewish, did very little to help on Christmas questions, but was very helpful in other areas.

If we really want to commit to winning every week, there’s one guy we need to make sure is there every week: Loren Knaster, freelance sportscaster and life coach, we need your help with sports questions. By that, of course, I mean that we need you to answer all the sports questions for us. It was pretty much entirely your fault that we didn’t get first place because you didn’t show up tonight after I asked you an hour ahead of time if you could come play and you said you already had plans. Jeez, is that what commitment to a team that sometimes invites you at the last minute to play with their team from time to time?

After trivia, I finished getting all the clothes for… the… dammit. How did this all get out of order? The day is out of sequence. That’s just great! It’s not really great, I was being sarcastic.

It’s really tired so I’m just going to put this up as is without editing or correcting the order of my day. Which is really hard for my OCD to accept. But I guess it was probably much harder for you. If you got through this entry to the end right here, I’d like to take a moment to thank you not only for reading, but for sticking with me as well. I’d also like to acknowledge what an awful lot of energy and patience it probably took you to get to the end–

Q: You got that right!
A: Congratulations, you hypothetical Jerk.


I Spy Something Red
Tuesday December 21st 2010, 2:05 am
Filed under: Family, Who Knows?

When I’m old, I’m sure I’ll remember it as some sort of close Mars flyby.

Hell, with my chemo brain, I’m sure I’ll remember it tomorrow as some sort of close Mars flyby.



For Those Of You Still Fixated On 140 Characters, Here You Go…
Sunday December 19th 2010, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Me, Myself, and Reid

Not feeling well, so just a (full) tweet today.

It reads like the worst book report in history.


Mobile Post: Sick, Took One Christmas Party, Feeling Better
Saturday December 18th 2010, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Friends, Health (Not Cancer)

My first mobile blog post! From navigator’s seat of Captain McDole’s car, heading home from Jason Millman and Ashley Mott’s (MillMotts).

Today: awoke from bad night of sleep, sick, slept poorly all day, felt sicker, went with McDole to MillMotts’ “Ugly Christmas Sweater Partay!!!” anyway, enjoyed MillMotts’ recentlyish moved into house in Westminster, felt better (attributable to being with friends), sat by firepit outside, watched mankind struggle to remaster fire, sat by wood burning fireplace inside, enjoyed Eagle Scout McDole’s mastery of flame, departed, struggling with Google Maps, recognize this street, no wait, McDole says lost right handed people who think they’re moving straight forward drift leftward and actually end up making a circle.

we’ll probably make it home soon.


My Tummy Hurts
Friday December 17th 2010, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family, Leukemia, NYC

A fairly typical Methotrexate Friday. Chemo sickness all day: a combo of bad headaches/migraines, fatigue, low to no energy, body aches and a general feeling of ickiness (a scientific term meaning “crappiness”). On top of that, my abdomen has been hurting a lot in one specific place all day. It’s not where my pancreas is, so I’m not particularly worried. I was also really hot all day, but that could be from the heat in the house.

Mom made a special Shabbos dinner of brisket, a semi-sweet semi-crispy rice dish, green beans in a white sauce (milk?) with crunchy onion on top. It was delicious, but only on the way down.

“Ew gross, why’d he write that?” See, I can read your mind after all. Mind Reider.

I’m not going to post this on Twitter or Facebook because, as I’m on track to posting every day for the next five months, this part of the week isn’t going to change much from week to week. It’ll probably stick to the “methotrexate is kicking my ass from the inside” formula, with an occasional “also this weird other thing hurts.”

And honestly, the entry I wrote earlier today about the Zadroga bill to help dying 9/11 First Responders is much more important to me. So go read that again and call your Republican senators and tell your friends who have Republican senators to do the same thing. Thank you.


Now It’s Time For Us To Help The Heroes of 9/11
Friday December 17th 2010, 4:27 pm
Filed under: NYC

Many 9/11 First Responders are dying because they selflessly worked everyday for up to a year on the World Trade Center site, where toxic chemicals seeped into every part of their bodies. Senate Republicans have been filibustering a bill that would give the Responders money for things like chemotherapy and other life saving medical aid. Why is Jon Stewart of The Daily Show the loudest voice among very few on television covering this? Why is Comedy Central covering this more than the major networks?

Please watch this episode of The Daily Show through at least Stewart’s interview with four First Responders (they’re on after the first commercial break). It had in me in tears.

If you have a Republican senator, please call them and tell them you want them to stop the filibuster and vote ‘yea’ on the Zadroga bill.


Methotrexate Makes Landfall, I Attempt To Write A Short Entry
Thursday December 16th 2010, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Friends, Health (Not Cancer), Leukemia

The methotrexate I took last night hit right on time, at about 7:30 this evening. So things short I try write.

-Rushed to fix Jason’s company email as he was getting ready to leave for Atlanta first thing this morning. May have subconsciously broken it on purpose so he’d have to come back soon. I kid, I kid.

-It was actually conscious sabotage.*

-Talked to my oncologist, who isn’t concerned that my recent odd paralyzed internal organ annoyances are signs of some great body shut down. However, he agrees they are odd this long after my last infusion. Yet another classic Reid Levin head-scratcher©. Still going in for vincristine on the 29th, but will reevaluate with him that day if I will actually be infused.

-Having trouble making these decisions, especially because everyone wants me to do whatever it is I want to do. What I want to do is not have anymore permanent damage to my body AND I also want to not have cancer ever again. I realize that’s a lot to ask for, but I don’t care, it’s what I want. I think some other people–not all, but some–are afraid they’ll give me bad counsel and so they give me none. I don’t blame them, knowing I’d never forgive myself if I chose something that one day seemed to lead back to leukemia. Not that I’d feel that way toward anyone else.

-Continued cleaning closet. Angrily commented aloud several times about what a teenager my 16 year old self was for improperly storing things like photo negatives and personal feelings.

-Hit by methotrexate at about 7:30 this evening and hope my better health this week will lead to a faster-than-normal recovery.

-Haha! Just kidding, good health has never stopped chemo from doing whatever it wants. Oh man, I really had you going there for a second.

Okay that’s it, my brain hurts. Get out of my way, Internet, I’m going to bed.


Now playing: Guster – On My Own
via FoxyTunes

*This is a lie for the sake of a joke, just in case your email really isn’t working, Jason, and you confuse this for an admission of guilt.

On Feeling Sick, Being Paralyzed and Fearing Darth Vader’s Health Plan
Thursday December 16th 2010, 12:21 am
Filed under: Health (Not Cancer), Leukemia

I woke up in the middle of the day today, having slept much later than usual. The good news: the mysterious feelings parading themselves around as withdrawal symptoms yesterday were all gone. The bad news: I felt really sick in a different way and continued to feel worse all day.

I got out of bed, ate a little something so I could take my pills, and tried to go back to sleep.

I was unable to sleep at all due to a recurring annoyance. A few of my internal organs have become paralyzed over the past few years. The thought (and hope) is that they will become unparalyzed when I have completely cleared all of the drugs I’m on out of my system after my last dose of chemo in May. This could take weeks, but more than likely will take longer. Ambiguously longer.

Generally I have ways of dealing with the challenges that come along with these paralyses. One particular internal organ has been giving me some extra trouble over the past few days, though. It isn’t painful. In fact, it seems more annoying than anything. It’s been giving me a lot of trouble when I lie down to sleep, and in doing so has been preventing me from getting as much sleep as I need, which is a lot when I’m sick, as I am now. I know from experience that without sleep, I tend to get sicker and sicker. I’ve dealt with insomnia a lot through treatment, and it really makes it hard to feel good.

The belief is that vincristine is to blame for this organ’s paralysis. Vincristine is another chemotherapy drug my oncologist has asked me whether I may want to consider stopping. I have been steadfastly against going off any chemo drugs before May, although I’ve already gone off of several, beginning with steroids after my last bout with pancreatitis, in June ’09. I want as much protection against a recurrence as possible, so I find myself frequently thinking that while this paralysis is annoying, it’s only temporary and is a side effect of a necessary weapon against leukemia.

However, there exists a tiny protester in the very back of my brain who has been carrying a tiny anti-weapons protest sign around since my paralysis problems began. I have been able to ignore for quite a long time. Today when I was trying to rest, though, that tiny guy broke out his brand new tiny megaphone.

“Wait! Stop right there. This is absurd,” you might be saying to yourself, “how could a tiny man inside the back of Reid’s brain possibly obtain a megaphone?”

Well, it might surprise you to learn that within my cerebellum, there is a very tiny, but very nice tiny-family friendly mall with tiny restaurants, tiny movie theaters and tiny stores that sell all kinds of tiny stuff, including tiny megaphones. Unfortunately, with that tiny megaphone in his tiny hand, that tiny protester’s rather large points of view finally reached the command center today.

I’m becoming concerned that this irritating problem that comes and goes has not gone as quickly as it normally does, and that it is more than a mere temporary annoyance. I’m beginning to wonder whether this may be a sign of permanent damage, beyond paralysis, to one of my internal organs. If that is the case, I would need to make some very important and difficult decisions soon, from going off vincristine all the way to deciding if I need some long term parts installed. While I really like Darth Vader, and recognize the absolutely amazing advancements in medicine it took to keep him alive after a gang-related dispute in which his arm and legs were cut off and he fell into a volcano, and I absolutely salute the medical droids that kept him alive by fitting him with all kinds of mechanical parts, I don’t personally want to have to face any of that. Especially the mechanical parts. Well, that and falling into a volcano.

I’m going to call my oncologist tomorrow and talk to him about my concerns. Until then, I will try to continue to be merely annoyed (and sick, blech) and try to keep worry and concern in check. Now it’s time for my nightcap of the big bad once-a-week oral methotrexate. Mmm, chemolicious. Good night.


Another Transition For Dad, Trivia and Possible Withdrawal… But I Sure Hope Not
Wednesday December 15th 2010, 1:21 am
Filed under: Family, Friends, Health (Not Cancer)

I did not get much sleep last night. I just couldn’t fall asleep. This morning, I had to get up with maybe an hour of cumulative sleep on board.

I quickly got over that, though, as Mom, Boo and I went to sit in on the end of today’s Rose Community Foundation board meeting in the Rose Community Foundation boardroom. And what a boardroom it is! Amazing view of the mountains! All sorts of things on which to nosh! And a really huge board… er table…!

It was what was taking place in the boardroom that we had come for: today was my father’s last day as chairman of the foundation, a philanthropic job he has particularly cherished over the past several years. He decided that with his recent appointment as Regional Chair of the Anti-Defamation League, resigning as chairman of the Rose Community Foundation was necessary so there would not be any conflicts of interest. While he will continue to be a part of the foundation, it will no longer be in a leadership capacity. I know that resigning was not an easy thing for him to do, but as the accolades from his fellow board members revealed, he is a man who makes decisions even when they are not easy.

We arrived a little early for Dad’s sendoff, and were given the chance to see part of the normal meeting. Being in the room, able to observe him lead was amazing. I’ve never seen him in action, not in this way. Sure, I’ve seen him speak at banquets, at fundraisers and at shul, but this was entirely different. He was relaxed, leaning back in his chair and spinning to the left and to the right and then back, and yet he commanded the entire room. He was both casual and entirely professional at the same time. I immediately understood what board members meant when they got their chances to send him off: he emitted an aura both of approachability and decisiveness that helped to foster new ideas, solve problems and keep people happy. It was something to behold, and I’m very glad I had the opportunity to see it.

Afterwords, we went out to lunch, which I can’t remember ever doing with Dad in the middle of a workday that didn’t involve the hospital. It was great.

We played trivia tonight with the Reimans and won the big monies. Our team name was “Captain Squidbilly,” in honor of Cpt. Matt McDole joining us tonight and in honor of Jason, who also joined us tonight, whose friendship had given me the answer to a clutch question last time we’d played trivia (when he was not in town). The question had been about cartoons on [adult swim] that Jason used to animate, including one called “Squidbillies,” that I never would have ever watched but for Jason’s work on it.

I felt fairly well today, albeit tired. I took a nap, but it wasn’t nearly long enough to make up for a night of insomnia. I was–and I remain–somewhat concerned that when I woke up from my nap, I was in a pool of sweat. I don’t normally sweat, especially not like this. The only time I can remember this happening is when we tried to take the penultimate step in weening me off of methadone and I experienced severe withdrawal. I distinctly felt several other withdrawal symptoms that came and went through the evening. None were bad enough to ruin the night, and in fact, Matt and Jason and I were able to hang out and talk for a while after trivia, which was really neat. But I will definitely continue paying close attention to these symptoms, lest they become bad enough I need to go the hospital. I hope they don’t, because I don’t know what I’d be having withdrawal from. And figuring things like that out isn’t always as much fun as it seems like it would be.

Another night up too late; I will leave further worrying for the morning.


Avs: 7 Blackhawks: 5 Me: Surrounded By Friends
Tuesday December 14th 2010, 3:44 am
Filed under: Friends, Leukemia, Word Nerd

Physically I felt great today, owing largely to being in massive pain all last week and being taken off last week’s “big one,” oral methotrexate.

I’m on an emotional high, as I’ve been the past three Decembers, because I have many good friends back in my day-to-day life. When the holiday dust clears, I’m going to try to keep spending time with the people who live here.

Mentally, I struggled with several words, including a few really easy ones like “selfish” (albeit used in a joking manner once I was helped finding it). I’ve noticed this more over the past few days. Was able to talk foreign affairs while watching a hockey game.

The hockey game was a holiday gift from Jason Shwartz, who took Matt and Corey Sullivan, Jason and Ashley MillMott, Matt McDole, and I to the game tonight. We saw the totally unfamiliar Colorado Avalanche of modernity defeat the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks 7-5. We were concerned that we were running late, but we made it to our seats just in time for the first half, where the score started not at 0-0, but at 3-all. Personally, I still find these post-lockout rules very strange.

Thanks Jason, and thanks Marni Shwartz for procuring the tickets!

A note of clarification: When I wrote in yesterday’s entry that I would “try as hard as I can to bang out at least 140 characters each day,” I didn’t mean to imply that I’d be trying to tweet once everyday. I meant that I want to write more than a tweetsworth a day. And yes, I just added “tweetsworth” to my lexicon and perhaps to the English language. Etymologists take note.

I’m sure there will be days when I can only write a tweet. In fact, I bet there will be days when I can’t write even write 140 characters. But I’m going to try my best. And just for those of you who feel cheated out of a tweet or those of you annoyed that you had to read all 1,927 characters (including spaces) of this blog entry, this is for you.