Taking It Day By Day
Wednesday July 20th 2011, 1:07 am
Filed under: Me, Myself, and Reid, Sodapopcornculture, Technobabble

Here’s what I’m going to do: as often as possible, I’m going to post a number rating my day. Why am I going to do this? Because I would like to be able to focus on a day at a time (which I am bad at), and also then be able to look backwards and say, “Hey, that was a great couple of days,” or, “Last week sucked.” I mean, I don’t want to say last week sucked, because I don’t want last week to have sucked, but if it did suck, I want to have a system to show it sucked. The scale will be as follows:

1 – what a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
2 – my day? meh.
3 – ups, downs, not bad, not great, it was a day. what more do you want?
4 – you know, this was a good day.
5 – this day turned out to be pretty damn great!

3 is not average. There is no average day in the life of Reid Levin. But if there was an average, I’d like it to be all 5s, every single day. And then an average day in the life of Reid Levin would be fantastic. As it is, though, the numbers are all over the place.

I’m also doing this to get back in the habit of writing. Some days I’ll write about what happened that day and some days I’ll write about stuff that I’ve been wanting to write about and some days I’ll write something expository and some days I just won’t. So there.

Today was a 4. I felt pretty good and got some stuff done.

Some things that happened:

-I had an appointment that went well. For three years it’s been a standing appointment every Tuesday. Next week it will move to Mondays. I know, talk about radical change and trying something bold and different.

-I went to Micro Center and exchanged the Wacom Graphics Tablet I purchased there last week when no one would help me (I think they were actively avoiding me) towards one that I researched as being the best for me. This is actually the third one I’ve purchased in less than a month. The first one, which I was pushed to buy by a helpful sales associate, was too small. I have had similar problems with beds and porige in the past.

-I went to lunch with Mom.

-I was suspicious about the price I paid for my new tablet, despite assurances from several salesmen that Micro Center sold things for the same price as everyone else. Maybe it was the phrase “the same price as everyone else” that alerted me to the dubious goings on. I checked the price I paid against other retailers, and discovered that Best Buy sells what I bought for $120 cheaper. I will be returning my Wacom Inuos4 Medium tablet to Micro Center and then driving over to Best Buy and buying my Wacom Inuos4 Medium tablet. Also, avoiding Micro Center in the future.

-I took a nap. This is still part of my normal routine while my body is healing.

-I talked to some friends. This is an integral component to pushing a day to a 3 or above, I believe.

-I watched some shows on USA, a fine television network full of interesting and fun to watch characters. There is also a fine country of the same name, but lately I’ve found it hard to watch or listen to many of its characters without pulling my hair out. Which is saying a lot, since post-chemo, it takes a lot for me to willingly allow any hair to leave my head.


Writer’s Block, Harry Potter 7.2, & A “New And Original” Trivia Format: I’ve Seen And Judged Them All!
Thursday July 14th 2011, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Denver, Family, Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants, Sodapopcornculture

I’ve been having a hard time writing for awhile. I don’t know why exactly. I love writing and it has definitely helped me get through the past several years. I suppose it’s some sort of writer’s block, which is really just a broad term that means, “I’ve been having a hard time writing for awhile. I don’t know why exactly.” I have always believed–and have always told others–that the best way to get around writer’s block is to simply start writing. It doesn’t matter what the words say or where they go. Just write.

Unfortunately, the one big problem I can identify seems to be more of an editorial problem, as evidenced by the 22 blog entries in the “drafts” folder. Or those four drafts in the trash from this week alone and the countless entries trashed before this week. So my follow up advice to myself right now is “just post.” I’ll keep trying to figure out what the other components are to this blockage, but in the meantime, right now, here’s a blog entry that’s not going to end up in draft limbo or the trash… no matter what.

I’ve got some catch up to do and I’m going to start small: the past two days.

Yesterday afternoon, my folks and I attended a special pre-release screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. This was the third or fourth Harry Potter pre-release I’ve been to since getting sick. Each of them has been a fundraiser for There With Care, an organization the helps families of children with critical illnesses by doing everything from making meals for the families to finding them convenient housing. They’re really amazing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It is much faster paced than its predecessor, beginning with the quick final scene from the last film, and launching at Nimbus 2000 (NERD!) speed from there. The emotions I felt reading the story were the emotions I felt watching the story on the big screen. I was very pleased with this, as some of the previous films in the series have seemed to lack the strong emotions conveyed in the books. Together with Part 1, this is a very good adaptation of the book. There are differences between the book and the movie, of course, but I think most of them worked very well for this different medium.

I try to approach movies based on books as one might approach the Gospels. They tell the same story, but in different ways. That doesn’t mean I’m not a little sad or bothered when something I particularly liked in the book doesn’t wind up in the film adaptation, but in general, I do my best to consider them as two distinct works. There is one thing I missed from the book, which was the story of Dumbledore and Grindelwald. This was a huge part not only of the book, but of the series. It redefined Dumbledore by showing his flaws and weaknesses, and eventually revealed his greatest strengths. I wish this had been integrated into the two films.

I have a strong suggestion for anyone who is going to see this movie. As someone who has read all the Harry Potter books, I’ve always wondered if the movies make any damn sense to people who haven’t ever read the books. With this movie, some of the people I attended the movie with, despite having read the book, still had some problems reconciling some plot details because they didn’t remember them. I highly recommend re-watching Part 1 before seeing Part 2 if you can. They really are one long movie, so Part 2 doesn’t take much time to re-explain anything.

It’s a great movie and I hope you find it as satisfying an ending to the series as I did!

Two night ago, despite missing half our regular contingent, my folks and I set out to play trivia. We called in my Aunt Stacy’s reliable-at-knowing-things family to join us, and we were set. We arrived at the DTC Tavern, full of confidence about our familiar trivia game that we’ve been attending for over two years. How naïve we were. Or, to put it another way: How naïve were we? Very naïve.

Almost as soon as we sat down, we noticed that everything was different. The format of the game. The host. Even our regular waitress was nowhere to be seen. Our team name came easily: WE FEAR CHANGE. The new host, a man named Orion, thought this was just a funny dig at him. It was not. It was genuine fear that the game we’d grown to know and love over the past few years had been transformed into something from a completely different and alien universe, where people have names like “Orion” instead of “Dan.”

However, our fear quickly faded as we realized this newfangled trivia was strikingly similar to another game we’d played. No, not Red Rover. That’s a good guess, though. Here’s a hint: it starts with a “Geeks” and ends with a “Who Drink.” That’s right, you got it: the coincidentally Denver-based, much more successful, nationally renowned (or at least infamous in many states) Geeks Who Drink!

There were several corporate bigwigs (who were young and hip, but still bigwigs) in attendance, observing the totally “new and original” format of their trivia game. When asked, they denied that their innovative new pub quiz bar trivia had anything to do with Geeks Who Drink. I’m certainly not saying that Geeks Who Drink own the concept of pub quizzes or bar trivia or obscure and twisted questions about the 80’s or anything. However, the similarities were pretty hard to miss, in that it was exactly the same as Geeks Who Drink with two differences:

1) Scoring. There’a nothing like a joker to double your points and in the last round, you lose points for wrong answers.

2) Dignity. As players, you are not constantly insulted or berated.

My dad pointed out that the Quizmaster Trivia Host was not ceaselessly tormenting anyone or crushing people’s spirits, abilities required of Geeks Who Drink quizmasters and quizmistresses. That whole dignity thing was pretty nice, I have to say. It was almost enough to make me forget I was taking part in blatant copyright infringement. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself and will gladly go back (after all, I’m no stranger to *ahem* allegedly infringing on copyright myself). But the prizes–previously money towards dinner and drinks, have been changed to things that are not money towards dinner and drinks–shook me out of my dignity-inflicted stupor.

I’m not going to tell Geeks Who Drink that their well-developed homegrown copyrighted quiz format has been blatantly ripped-off. But somebody will eventually. And then what? We’ll walk into the Tavern one night and there’ll be a new trivia format that’s even newer, scarier, and crazier: we’ll have to answer in the form of a question.


Don’t Despair, The Internet, I Never Left.
Monday July 11th 2011, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Health (Not Cancer), Me, Myself, and Reid

I’m sorry, The Internet. I have not forsaken you. The shackles that have kept me from writing on you regularly are nearly broken.

I am finally having more good days than bad. It’s been over four years since I could last say that.

So get ready, The Internet, I’m about to write all over you.


New Better Than The Machine Video – Paul Revere: The Truth
Friday July 01st 2011, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Better Than The Machine, Friends

Just in time for the Fourth of July, I am very proud to present a brand new animated comedy video from Better Than The Machine, in collaboration with Green Shoe Animation! Find out the truth about an American legend: let’s just say that when the British were coming, Paul Revere was ready for more than an attack by land or by sea.

Commentary to follow!


“Goodbye Mediport, Hello ER!” and Other Post-Chemo Adventures
Monday June 20th 2011, 5:24 pm
Filed under: Health (Not Cancer)

Last Monday, I had the mediport in my chest removed. Even though I have a long road of recovery ahead of me, this was a victory. The removal of the port represents no longer being bound to the hospital. It adds to the feeling of finality my chemotherapy saga. While the port in my skull (called an “ommaya reservoir”) is permanent, it was only used occasionally, I can’t feel it in my head, and it hasn’t been used since last autumn. The mediport, on the other hand, was something I could feel in my chest. It formed my central line and was in use from the beginning right up until the end. Its removal separates me further from my time on chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, after the outpatient surgery to remove the port, my hand started hurting. The hand that the IV had been in that was used for anesthesia. It kept hurting all week and eventually became swollen. My mom got out the tape measure just to see how much bigger it was than my other hand: a lot. We went into the ER on Saturday and after some testing, it was determined that I have a clot in my lower arm. Since it is where it is, it should be treatable with ibuprofen. Ibuprofen not only helps with the pain, but is also a blood thinner. Ironically, as is standard practice, I was told not to take it for 48 hours before my surgery.

Having had far worse clots in three appendages all at the same time (2008, after hemorrhagic pancreatitis) due to having PICC lines attached to every available part of my body, this seems to be just an annoyance. I mean it hurts, but I don’t have to constantly get shots of anticoagulants night and day. Also I spelled “anticoagulants” right. I had trouble with “ibuprofen.” But I got it, don’t worry.

I’m sleeping a lot. I’ve gone from insomnia to hypersomnia. No sleep to Rip Van Winkle. I slept for 20 hours one day! That was crazy. I think my body is repairing itself, building my new immune system, and making up for lost zzzs. I’m fairly exhausted whenever I’m awake. I had that awful sinus infection (Sinfection) for about a month, during which I slept a tremendous amount. I’m not sick now, just very sleepy. Which is good! It’s another annoyance, but I can deal with sleepy.

Hey! Whaddayaknow! The Doc just called. It’s the return of a classic! Yes, despite being surgically removed thrice, there is a cyst in my right humerus. If you’ve been around for a long time, you might remember it as the cyst in my right humerus that ate all the bone marrow in my right humerus and caused my right humerus to shatter. His name is Larry. He’s a real bastard.


Tweet: Where I’ve Been
Saturday June 18th 2011, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Tweet Tweet

1:Spent most of waking day in ER. 2:Clot in arm from mediport surgery. 3:Went from no sleep to Rip Van Winkle. 4:Waking day now very short.

Monday June 13th 2011, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Leukemia

My mediport is officially history! The surgery to remove it went well, I’m back home, and I plan to take a very long nap. Hooray!zzz


Small Updates On Big Things
Sunday June 12th 2011, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Friends, Health (Not Cancer)

I haven’t been up to updates lately because I’m #$%@!&’ sick again (or still sick… either way). I didn’t expect to feel better immediately after chemo, but I didn’t expect to feel worse either.

Despite health unpleasantness, I’m thrilled that I made it to Dave Burdick and Rachel Cernansky’s beautiful wedding outside Boulder this past weekend. Mazel Tov!

Tomorrow, I’m having outpatient surgery to remove my central line (the port to my heart that allowed easy delivery of chemo to my blood).

I have truly amazing friends, and many of my best sent me an amazing gift for finishing chemo. The gift made its way around the country and received material from the other side of the world before it was presented to me. It is a collage of some of our happiest times together, surrounded by wonderful handwritten words of congratulations, support, and encouragement. With all of my heart, thank you (clockwise, from the top… picture forthcoming) Millman, Mike, Heidi, Ashley, Matt, J, Alex, Summer, Wes, Coreycondo, Emily, Tasha, Lance, Gen, Mel, Reiman, Claire, and McDole!

There’s been a lot of love over the past few days. Now let’s make with the healing!



The Violent Response of Sinfection
Friday May 27th 2011, 12:37 am
Filed under: Health (Not Cancer)

Last night, I posted a blog entry about The Right Horrible Lord Sinfection, a sinus infection so twisted, it was banned from the “enhanced” interrogations at Gitmo during the Bush years. Even the Vice President admitted that, “anyone with this thing [in] their body who isn’t under the comfortable care of Mom will break like a pacemaker… [it’s] just too evil.” Even Darth Vader has his limits.

In that last entry, I stood up to Sinfection and told it that I was rallying my best immune system troops against it, so its remaining time in my body would be short. I boasted about facing down bigger, tougher diseases, and defeating them. It made me feel good to write that stuff. Apparently, however, Sinfection did not believe my blog portrayed it in the favorable light it thought it deserved. It paid me a special visit this evening to discuss possible edits to yesterday’s blog. And when I say “discuss possible edits,” I mean it beat the living daylights out of me. Then it beat the snot out of me. And then it beat the… well, you get the picture.

I had a coughing fit this evening that felt like it would never end. I just could not get enough air. My throat was blocked off at some points, but I was able to maneuver the offending sputum out of my airway. It was nothing short of exhausting in itself, but then I started to panic when I couldn’t breathe, which only made things worse. I must say, in my defense, if given another chance to panic or not panic when I can’t breathe, I will almost certainly again choose to go with panicking–if that’s not panic-worthy, I don’t know what is. I was sure I was going to pass out, but I don’t think I did. Also, Ferris was barking at my cough and would jump up to try to help me every time I coughed, as if he could grab the cough and shake it around. It would have been adorable if I hadn’t been choking.

At any rate, the message was clear: let up on the Sinfection trash talking… or else. For a while there, I actually thought about giving in. I actually said aloud, “Wow, being off chemo is much worse than being on chemo.” But then I realized that if I give in, if I roll over and let some mutated head cold take over my life, well, that just wouldn’t be something I could ever forgive myself for.

So listen close, Sinfection: this body ain’t big enough for the both of us (and it’s big body). You might as well close shop right now, because as long as I’m kicking, as long as I’m coughing, I’m coming for you. I’m not giving in. This is my body, dammit! I was here first! You’re just an insignificant acute infection in story that is unimaginably larger than you. So get lost, or I’ll blow you away myself.


Ain’t Nothing Pretty About Sadist Sinus Infection “Sinfection”
Thursday May 26th 2011, 4:28 am
Filed under: Health (Not Cancer), Me, Myself, and Reid

Dear unwelcome tenant of my body, the Most Horrible Sinus Infection, Sinfection,

I hate you. Go away.

Allow me to elaborate. I’ve had a lot of sinus infections in my life. I’ve probably already had more sinus infections than most people have their entire lives. Some of them have been really mean–the kind of infections even the worst viruses know to avoid. But I’ll admit, you are, without a doubt, the worst sinusitis I’ve ever encountered.

You are one badass mucosa infector, Sinfection. You’ve taken over my head and given me debilitating headaches that have kept me in bed almost around the clock. The vile bloodmucus you’ve produced has slimed its way down my throat and into my stomach. It feels like there are razor blades in my throat when I swallow. I can’t talk, and whispering sends me into coughing fits. I feel nauseous constantly. My ears won’t pressurize correctly. Breathing is complicated. And on top of it all, you’re so damn persistent. You seem to find new avenues for torturing me every day.

I’ve got to hand it to you, Sinfection. You are an exceptional specimen of evil. But you know what? While you may be the worst sinus infection I’ve ever had, you’re far from the worst disease I’ve ever had. I’ve fought bigger, badder illnesses than you, and I’ve won. I danced all over leukemia and I kicked pancreatitis’ ass so hard my gallbladder came out. If cancer and organ failure couldn’t take me down together, what chance do you stand all alone?

Consider this your eviction notice, Sinfection. Pack up your wicked implements and vacate my body immediately. You are unwelcome, and your ironic post-chemo timing is in bad taste. Even now, my white cells are regrouping with the aid of the elite Antibiotic Team 6. Your persistence is futile–you will lose. Get the hell outta here and don’t ever let me catch your slimy symptoms around my parts again.