A Week In Lengthy Brief Summary, part one
Tuesday August 09th 2011, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Denver, Family, Friends, Health (Not Cancer), Knowledge Junkie, Liberty!, Me, Myself, and Reid

I don’t feel well today. In fact, I have not felt well since last Wednesday. I’ve been kicked around by debilitating headaches and nausea. Also, since last Sunday, I’ve been more sleepy than I’ve been in a couple of months. From the beginning of July through the end of it, my health was going up a steep incline like it was an expert climber, which it is not. I was shocked each and every day because of how much better I was finally feeling. Each day was a milestone of noticeable improvement since finishing chemo. Hell, I even got sick for a day here or there in July, but I didn’t mind it because it was just a day here or there, and being sick for just one day hadn’t happened to me in years–it was actually a good feeling!

Last Monday, when I was very sleepy, I tried to write a blog entry, and I fell asleep in the middle of writing it. On Tuesday, I set out to complete what I’d written about Monday and then write about Tuesday. I fell asleep again. One Wednesday, I set out to finish Monday and Tuesday and write about Wednesday. This went on until yesterday. I have a 5001 word mega-blog entry (or small book) that’s still not done. It’s pretty absurd.

I may publish some parts out of that behemoth in the future, but for now, here’s a (relatively) quick run-down of the past week:

Monday (August 1) was a 5. I went to the Rockies game as a guest of the Reimans. David had to break into my house to roust me because I was asleep when his family came by to pick me up. And when they left. And when he returned in a different car by himself. Due to this, I did not scold, rag on, or punch him for rooting for the other team, the Phillies. I had a great time.

Tuesday was a 4. My mom and I played trivia at The DTC Tavern with the Reimans. We had to split into two teams because of the new rules. The TVs where the questions should have been did not work. Many of the regular teams weren’t there, and even our regular waitress, of whom we’re very fond, told us the new rules were drying up her tips. It was both fun and painful. As a general rule, I normally prefer my fun without any pain mixed in. In the end, we made out like bandits (trivia bandits) because David, Becca, Mom, and I came in first and won $60 towards our bill, and the others came in second and won $40 off their bill. Since we were there as one group and paid as one group, we got $100 off our bill. If we had played as one team, we would have won less money… good work, The Tavern!

Wednesday was a 3. My folks went to Vail. I stayed behind, with a plan for joining them the next day. I decided I’d take advantage of my free Wednesday and “get stuff done!” This did not work out well. I couldn’t hold my eyes open, so I slept some, then I started feeling lousy, so I laid down on the sofa and tried to watch some TV. I was depressed that I’d not gone up to Vail, hadn’t gotten anything done, and felt physically unable to do anything. A late visit from Reiman saved the day from being a 2.

Thursday was a 3. On Wednesday, my cousin Adam, his pregnant wife Amy, and their jewel-of-everyone’s eye daughter, Noa, drove from the mountain, near Las Vegas, on top of which they’ve lived for two years, to Vail. Adam was headed down to Denver on Thursday for the last part of an applications process to become a firefighter in Denver (so as to move the family back here): an interview with the West Metro Fire Department. On previous trips to Denver, he’d passed the written test with flying colors and aced the physical test. The plan for the day was that he would kick ass at his interview, swing by and pick me up, and we’d go join everyone in Vail.

Instead, everyone left Vail and came to our house. I told my parents I wasn’t feeling well, and they decided they weren’t comfortable leaving me alone. I protested and was whole-heartedly against them coming home, but I do appreciate the reasons they made the decisions they did. Also, I couldn’t really be mad, because this gave an opportunity to spend some time with my wonderful cousins! Their arrival saved this day from being a 2.

Friday was a 4. I slept a lot. When I wasn’t sleeping, I talked to Adam and Amy and talked and played with Noa. She and I get along very well, which might say something about her maturity at age three, or my lack of maturity at age 28. I find that it’s fun just to be around her. Everything familiar to me is new and wondrous to her. And “why?” is asked of almost everything I say. There’s also the added bonus of not being her parent, so there’s very little she can find to disagree with me about.

Saturday was a 4. Largely the same as Friday: I slept a lot, played with Noa, and got to spend more time with Adam and Amy. I really wish I had been feeling well during their visit. I love having them around. I’ve often stated how lucky I am to have such a great immediate family, but I am also very lucky to have grown up with so many great cousins, as well. Not to mention my cousins we’ve gained through marriage, Amy and Ivan, who both seem like natural, obvious parts of our family. We’re family, we’re friends, and I find we’re all quite happy to be around one another.

Sunday was a 4. Again, I slept most of the day. Those family members from my mom’s side of the family that were in town came to a hot dog dinner at our house. The stand-out moment of the weekend for me occurred while when the family was seated at the table, everyone was having their own conversation, and Noa turned to me and asked, “Rrrrreeeeid, why doesn’t she have a boyfriend?” as she pointed in the general direction of a female family member at the table.

“Because she hasn’t found the right boy to be her boyfriend yet,” I replied.

“Why?” she asked.

“You don’t want just any boy, and the right one can be very hard to find.”

Noa crinkled her nose and thought about this. I’m not entirely sure this was a satisfactory answer for her, but she moved on anyway, to what was surely a better and more pertinent question, “Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked me.

The table went silent. Heads turned. It was great.

“No, I don’t,” I shrugged.

“Do boys not have boyfriends?”

I loved this question. I loved answering this question. I loved the hesitation apparent in some of the throats at the table. “Some boys have boyfriends.”

“Oh. Why don’t you?” she asked innocently.

“Because I want a girlfriend.”

“Hmmm.” She furrowed her brow and looked away from me as she considered that. She quickly moved on, “Why don’t you have a girlfriend?”

It went on like this for some time. It was great.

* * *

All right. I think that’s it. While I intended to include Monday and Tuesday in this summary, I am in a lot of pain and, hey, I can always do those another day. Or not. I’m off to feel better. I gots me some things to do.

–Reid.



Friends In Alignment
Monday August 01st 2011, 2:00 am
Filed under: Denver, Friends, Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants, Sodapopcornculture

Saturday was a 6. Yeah, that’s right. 6/5.

I don’t know about this number day ranking system. I feel like people reading my blog like it better than I do. Don’t worry, I’ll think of something to mend the rift between me and numbers. Oh, and the 6 is not due to me thinking the number system is inadequate–if the numbers went up to 10, this day would be an 11.

Two of my oldest best friends in the entire world (“world” is used here as it’s used in the “World Series,” in that it’s not really the entire world, just the parts I care about), Jason and Reiman, who now live in some other states someplace else somewhere, were both in town on the same day. Neither had any foreknowledge that the other was coming into town, nor that both were staying for a week, one right after the other. By chance, they had one overlapping free day–this was the day I’d been waiting for to celebrate my 28th birthday (again) in a big way.

The coincidence that they were both here on the same day was a lot like an alignment of planets. Planets, which cannot think or change the speed at which they orbit the Sun, cannot speak to one another before aligning, nor can they align for very long. Perhaps this makes such an alignment even more special; a rare moment that is something to be appreciated and remembered. Or, alternately, maybe my buddies just need to coordinate with each other better when they’re coming home. I don’t know, it could really be either of those.

Anyway, it was a great day/night/early morning. Honestly, I can best describe what we did as “palling around.” Where we were and what we didn’t wasn’t nearly as important as who we were with.

Oh, and I’m not just saying that to cover up some sort of illicit activities in which we may or may not have been involved. Because we definitely did not rob any banks. So just let it go, okay? Just let it go already. Jeez.

Eventually, we met up with another of our close friends, Matt Sullivan of the Matt & Coreycondo Sullivans. The Sullivans live to the southwest, far beyond the Great Temple of Ikea (I think it’s Aztec). Together, the four of us saw a double feature of two movies we found very entertaining.

First, we saw “Captain America,” which exceeded my expectations. Not only was I entertained and impressed, but I’d say “Cap” could be in contention for the title of best Marvel Comics movie ever (hey Chris Evans, congrats on getting another chance at being in a good Marvel movie!) except that the end of the movie felt like a lead-in to another movie rather than the end of this movie. While someone might argue that this is okay because it is the lead-in for another movie, someone would be wrong. I give “Cap” 45/50 stars. I give the musical number 13/13 stripes.

Second, we saw “Cowboys & Aliens,” which all four of us enjoyed thoroughly. It delivered on its name, it was fun, and it was a great fit as the B movie of our double feature. I give “Cowboys & Aliens” 3/4 Indys for entertainment value, 22/22 Bonds for being the best movie about cowboys and aliens that will probably ever be made, and ∞/∞ motherfuckin’ snakes on this motherfuckin’ plane for being a movie that, before I die, I need to meet the person that greenlit it.

After the movies, Matt went home for no good reason other than it was midnight; he was tired; he had stuff to do in the morning; the theater was right by his house, and we were going far away in the other direction; and he wanted to take care of his wife Coreycondo, who wasn’t feeling good that night. Pfft, what a spoilsport.

Mattless, we proceeded to iHop. Oh, also Matt didn’t want to go to iHop because he eats people food. It was neat being back in our old high school late night truckstop hang out. We extended our day until 1:30 AM, at which point Reiman’s drooping eyelids frightened me since he had been our getaway driver for our series of bank heists the whole day.

The 6/5 isn’t about any one thing we did. It’s about the feeling I get when I’m around my best friends: total and complete happiness.

* * *

Sunday was a 4. A pleasant, no to-do list, rest and recovery day.

Notable events:

-Although it sounded fun, I turned down an invitation from the Brothers Reiman to attend the Colorado Renaissance Festival. I had done a lot on Saturday, and even though I felt okay, I decided it would be better not to spend the entire day and evening walking around in 97° heat.

-I took a long nap.

-We watched a lot of TV. A few “Daily Shows,” a “White Collar,” and a “Warehouse 13.”

-I worked on this blog entry for a few hours. Writing these entries at the end of the day, which I see as necessary if I’m going to write about the whole day, keeps me up way too late. Eh, well… I don’t know if that’s true. I’d probably still be up now anyway. But these things do take me a very long time to write. Maybe I should write less? Start writing earlier? Write faster? No, I don’t think I can make myself write faster; I type fast and think… slower. I need to figure this out.

-But not tonight.

–Reid.



Turning 28 on the 28th: My First Chemoless Birthday In Four Years

Thursday was a 5. My golden birthday: my 28th birthday on July 28th. The first birthday I’ve celebrated while not on chemotherapy in four years. It was a long day, but it was a really good one.

I continued my strength training with my trainer at the gym. Although I’ve only been working out at the gym for two weeks, I’m already starting to feel the benefits. I walk out of there feeling really good, mentally and physically. I’ve got a lot of muscle to rebuild, and then it’ll be on to Beyond Rebuilding: Building Beyond Rebuilding! I also verified last week’s hunch as to why I was limping around the day after working out: working out at the gym is way harder than working out at home. Ow. I feel good. Ow. Really good. Argh.

I met my mom and my sister Rachel for lunch. Rachel flew in from DC just for my birthday! What a special thing to do; it meant a lot to me. She and Rebecca then left Friday morning for Las Vegas to celebrate Rachel’s 25th birthday with 13 friends. Rebecca set the whole thing up for Rachel. 3Rs: we’re very lucky to have each other. Also, we need official 3R power rings.

J and I went to Mile High Comics (my dad referred to this as “our own little Comic-Con”), which neither of us had been to in a whole bunch of years… many, many years. We both agreed, being the wise geeky continental travelers we are, that the old favorite store just doesn’t stack up against our favorite comic book stores in New York and Atlanta, respectively. Honestly, I don’t even really read comics anymore, except for Fables. And even then, I don’t read the individual issues, I buy the graphic novels that reprint 10 issue story arcs. Even then, I… no wait, that’s it. But I still felt like the old place was somehow less than I remember it being.

There was something really cool, though. This month, Marvel Comics made variant covers of Spider-man for comic book stores all over the country. Each cover has Spidey holding a copy of the Daily Bugle with the headline: Spider-man Saves [Comic Book Store Name] and that store’s logo. So now, thanks to J, I have an issue of Spider-man in which Spider-man apparently saves Mile High Comics! Which doesn’t actually happen inside the comic. But the cover is cool, because Mile High is the big Colorado comic chain, and we have hometown pride. Also, I forgot how dumb the Mile High Comics logo was. Captain Woodchuck? Why? Oh well, whatever. It’s still cool!

We had dinner at Piccolo’s, a local Italian & Mexican food restaurant. It’s delicious, and I’ve been eating it all my life. Mom, Dad, Rachel and I met Rebecca there. She brought me balloons, to officially certify that it was a real birthday celebration. Grandma, Gigi, Papa, Uncle Neal, Aunt Stacie, and my cousin Jeff were all there too, to help celebrate. Lots of pizza and spaghetti were consumed. We all talked and laughed and our goblets ranneth over with root beer and Shirley Temples and some sort of alcohol. As expected, Gigi yelled about the debt ceiling. An adorable proto-child stared at my balloons so longingly, and grabbed for them from twenty feet away with such might, that I had to go give him one. He immediately began ungratefully, yet so adorably, grabbing for the other balloons–he knew I was powerless against his adorableness. My sisters gave me some books I’ve been wanting. They (the books, not the sisters) have an added benefit beyond being full of information. Because they are so massive and so solid, after I’ve read them, I can use them as the cornerstones of a large building, or perhaps as anchors for an aircraft carrier. A good time was had by all.

I barely made it home without falling asleep. My parents insisted that before I would be allowed to go to sleep, I had to open my gifts from them. Tyrants! It turned out not to be so bad; I got more books I’ve been wanted and a cool electric shaver. For shaving! Some time ago, I tired of shaving my face with razor blades. To avoid this, I tried several things: I grew a beard, I brought scruffy back, and recently, I’ve been shaving my face with my electric beard trimmer. This new shaver is perfect, in that it will let me shave quickly, easily, and without the pain of being used on my skin when intended for trimming beards. Also, my parents helped pay for part of the cost of the graphic tablet I recently won in victorious battle against various local electronics stores.

I finally went to bed, expecting to collapse into a long, restorative sleep.

* * *

Friday was a 2.5. There’s not much to tell. Also, I might need more numbers to rate these days.

It turns out I forgot to take my pills before bed last night, and then I had a really terrible night. I don’t know if that was entirely due to not taking my pills, although I’m sure it played a role. I also overdid it yesterday. I felt cruddy and tired all day and couldn’t seem to fall asleep during the day, despite trying several times. I got a few things done here and there. I’ve been feeling noticeably better for awhile, so a day like this, while not a bad day, was certainly a frustrating one.

* * *

Saturday, there will be more partying. Of a different sort. I don’t quite know what sort yet, but it’ll be excellent. Hooray for several day long birthday celebrations! Did I mention that Matt and Coreycondo Sullivan put a candle on a cookie for me and got everyone to sing me happy birthday at poker the night before my birthday? Well, they did, and it was great. ¡Viva las celebraciones!

–Reid.



Training, Taking It To The Micro Man, Rolls With Rebecca

Today was a 5. I felt really good, got stuff done, and enjoyed the things I wanted to do.

-I started strength training again with my trainer Diana. We haven’t worked together for a long time because I haven’t been up to it for a long time. She used to come to the house and bring barbells and weights, but since I’m no longer burdened by chemo, I was able to go to her gym. I’m confident this will help me on my road to recovery. I’m very excited to be training again! I even remember some of the tricks she taught me, like sitting, shaking, and rolling over. Unfortunately, even after all this time, we’re still confronting my barking problem.

-I ran some errands (I drove! I could see today!), including marching into Micro Center and returning the overpriced graphics tablet I’d purchased there. When the woman asked what was wrong with it, I told her they were selling it for $120 more than another business in the area. She asked if I wanted her to see if she could price match it. I told her I had no problem with her, but that I didn’t want to give the store the satisfaction. By “the satisfaction,” I meant “any money whatsoever,” and whether she knew that or not, she let me return the tablet and wished me a nice day. Hah hah! Take that, you corporate barons, what with your high prices, lying sales associates, and very friendly and helpful customer service representatives!

-Rebecca and I started what we hope to make a new tradition of getting dinner one night a week. Since she moved out of the house, we figure this is a good way to make sure we stay in the habit of spending sibling time together and keeping one another up-to-date on our various goings-on. Tonight we ate at Sushi Sa Sa (try saying that a million times fast) in the Highlands neighborhood near downtown. The Highlands is hip and cool, so naturally, we fit right in. We ordered some original Sa Sa sushi rolls and some traditional sushi rolls; it was all delicious and surprisingly filling. I have to agree with Rebecca’s assessment that it was some of the freshest fish we’ve ever had in sushi. Highly recommended!

-As a bonus to our sibling night, we ran into popular radio personalities Slacker and Steve, who, much their credit (and my surprise), recognized me from that time I was on their radio show to support The Children’s Hospital (I thought there were pictures in that post… there are pictures somewhere). This was not only impressive because they surely meet thousands of people every week, but because I was totally and completely bald when we first met. And now I have hair. Very cool.

-I drove home, and no day would be complete without watching at least one episode of some television show with my parents. Tonight, Royal Pains featuring The Fonz and Lou Grant.

I’m as worn out as person who did a lot of stuff all day, and as happy as a clown that won the lottery.

Goodnight,

–Reid.



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.

–Reid.



Tch. This Is Sooo Reid.
Monday May 16th 2011, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Denver, Family, Health (Not Cancer), Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants

Update of Great Importance 5/17/2011: To my dear family and friends, I am truly sorry; I never meant to imply that I ate at Casa Bonita the night that this entry took place. I only meant to convey that Casa Bonita is the standard for bad Mexican food. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused to you and/or the Mexican food industry. Thank you for your understanding. I will try to be more clear in the future.

Last night, my folks and I went out with my Aunt Stacie, my cousin Jeff, and Jeff’s “hey! we know you through the grapevine!” girlfriend Lee–an all-around fun group to go out with. We went to a very authentic Mexican restaurant that my aunt really likes. Everyone here has their own favorite “very authentic Mexican” place, and each varies in degree of objective authenticity. The agreed upon least authentic, but perhaps most fun “very authentic Mexican” experience is Casa Bonita. There is not, however, any agreed upon top end to the “very authentic Mexican” scale.

So anyway, we were at this authentic Mexican restaurant (that was not Casa Bonita), and for the first 30 minutes, we were having a great time. We picked our food from this huge menu, people got their fancy alcoholic drinks, and Jeff, Lee and I were laughing about both things and stuff. In fact, I would say we were having a marvelous time.

Then, my hands turned blue. Well, my fingers did, anyway. My palms remained a healthy pasty pinkish hue. After a few minutes of everyone making fun of me (in their defense, it did look like I’d smeared blue ink all over my fingers), we realized that this might indicate a life-threatening problem. I called one of my doctors, who reacted with several, “Oh my god!”s and told me to head to the nearest ER. Blue coloration in the extremities is a sign that blood is not getting to where it needs to be.

I had never been to this ER, but, as far as ERs go, it was pretty good. The ER nurses and doctors worked hard to determine the cause of my cyanosis (Medical English for “Blue Man Group extremities”). There were a lot of reasons why this was difficult to pin down. One of the primary reasons for this was that fingers on both of my hands had turned blue. Meaning that either a common blood pathway had to be not working correctly, and that would be the heart, which they ruled out, or that, incredibly improbably, two clots that had formed separately at the same time on both sides of my body. There was some concern about my central line, but as I understood it, the way it’s setup into my heart, it wouldn’t create a problem on both sides of my body evenly.

I underwent an ultrasound to make sure there weren’t any clots. There were no clots. By the time that was done, about an hour and half after my fingers first turned blue, they were almost totally back to their normal color. The ER doctor explained that some people simply have “asymptomatic problems” that don’t really seem to be the result of, or indicative of anything. I howled with laughter (on the inside), and quipped, “You don’t know the half of it!” (on the inside). They could not explain why my fingers had turned blue.

So I was released with a paper that said, basically, “we don’t know why this happened, but you’re okay.” My primary doctors were less than satisfied with this conclusion, and are intent on not letting it go. They’re conferring and racking their brains to solve yet another Reid Levin Medical Mystery™. This Wednesday, at my first post-chemo clinic visit, they will now have a lot to thoroughly examine and test. Although I’ve known this for a long time, it’s still nice to by reminded that my doctors have my back and are concerned enough about me to try to figure all of these weird t”this would only happen to Reid!” hings out.

Maybe it should scare me a little bit, too. Honestly, though, I think this incident was just my body saying, “Okay, chemo is over, what other kind of mischief can I get into?” Again, that was not a satisfactory answer for my doctors. Which is good.

Oh, and since I didn’t get to eat my dinner, I went to Taco Bell after I was released from the ER. I got my just-above Casa Bonita “very authentic Mexican” food in the end. Muy bueno!

–Reid.



The Epic Quest For The Secret Of The Wound Team
Monday March 14th 2011, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Denver, Family, Health (Not Cancer), Who Knows?

For over three years I’ve had a gaping hole in my back, a very deep and wide radiation burn. The words “gaping hole” might sound gross, which I hope they do, because it is gross. It is a hole in my back. It used to be very big, now it’s smaller. Ancient events catchup over.

A couple of weeks ago, my burn started bleeding profusely for no apparent reason. It hasn’t hurt. In fact, I was only the first one to notice it the first time. And then it happened again. And then again. The first two times were in doctors’ offices, totally by chance. The third time no one said anything about it, which was weird, because it happened in the middle of Bonnie Brae Ice Cream (which for you uninformed non-Coloradans, is the finest ice creamery in all the land). It was absolutely packed (as the finest places in the land always are), so I would have expected at least a, “Dude! I believe you to have been shot! Now I am taking a phone picture with my picture phone!” or maybe, “Pardon me, you are gushing blood on my fine Italian loafers. I expect full recompense,” or even a good ol’, “Excuse me, are you okay, Man Who Is Bleeding Profusely?” Recent events catchup over.

Man, this thing is already as long as the Yellow Pages. Ouch! Sorry, too soon? Ha ha ha, but seriously folks. Is this thing on?

Today I had a great consultation with the enigmatic Children’s Hospital Wound Care Team about my radiation burn. They were surprisingly hard to track down. Last week, I met with some nurses and a doctor in the hospital’s Burn Clinic. The Burn folks checked my back out and gave some recommendations. One of them, who (I am not making this up) asked to remain anonymous, whispered to my mom and I that we were in the wrong place and that I should be seen by the Wound Care Team. It was incredibly unprofessional (and unfortunately not the worst of it), but it was also the beginning of:

The Epic Quest For The Secret Of The Wound Team!

[intense, dramatic organ music]

I collected my rations, my potions +2 and a party of three fellow adventurers. We set out on our quest. We defeated several Spelling Demons and obtained a Children’s Hospital Scroll of Knowledge, the online employee and clinic directory. Mysteriously, nobody was listed as working in any Wound Care Team. It was as if their existence had been cloaked by some powerful omnipotent force, or forgotten by some random webmaster. I placed a call to the Hospital (Dimensional) Switchboard and asked for the Wound Care Team, but was hit with many Spells of Confusion and Hexes of Stop Calling. After facing down the Dragon of The Switchboard, I was told there’s no such thing as a Wound Care Team and that there never had been.

DIscouraged, I considered giving up. I moped. I left my adventuring companions. I soliloquized. I moped more until I received a convenient plot point from a disembodied voice, either that of the Spirit Of The Old Children’s Hospital or a phone call nurse in the Dermatology Clinic who said she heard I was looking for the Wound Care Team. She directed me to the Tall Tower of the Plastic Surgery Clinic. I rejoined my party (who hadn’t even noticed my absence… sigh), and we climbed the tower, where we were directed me to the Deep Dermatology Dungeon, into which we descended only to be told we needed to find the Great Doctor of Myth and Legend and Myth in the Very Large and Impressive Castle of the Plastic Surgery Clinic.

Before we could reach the Great Doctor, we had to get by the Schedulers, Immortal Guardians of the Doctor, who could not schedule me until the beginning of May. I uttered the secret passcode I learned from the, I dunno, let’s say goblin or something, and The Guardian Schedulers revealed that they thought I had wanted plastic surgery on my flawless physical form, but that since I wanted the Wound Care Team, they held that which we sought all along, the final level of our quest, the boss battle to end all boss battles: an appointment to see the Wound Care Team. After a difficult conversation of misunderstanding and confusion, I was finally scheduled to see the Wound Care Team today. Unfortunately, neither Aerith and Boromir made it to see our victorious triumph of epicness.

Total immersion in geekdom complete. Returning to… wherever everyone else exists…

Today I met with the Wound Care Team, which is made up of specialists from all over the hospital. It’s sort of like a super group of superheroes or rock stars. Or maybe rock star superheroes. Yeah, that’s sweet. There’s a dermatologist, a plastic surgeon, a burn specialist, a product representative and Aquaman on the sea bass some other people. There isn’t really any official “Wound Care Clinic,” which explains why I couldn’t find it. These folks didn’t even know who I should talk to in The Great Hall of Scheduling to setup a followup appointment, so they scheduled me themselves (which is very atypical).

What they lacked in being real, the Wound Care Team made up for in their ability to treat wounds. I have a new dressing on my back holding in meta-honey, which is an amazing healing agent. They set me up with a medical supply company that will be sending dressings and meta-honey to my house. These people were really specialists in wound care, as opposed to anybody who has ever told us how to care for my burn before, who now kind of seem like they were using leaches (unfair statement for exaggerated dramatic effect).

It was a great, very positive experience. I’m very glad I met these people. I wish I could have met them three years ago. I wish they had an actual clinic. But I guess that would take away from their mystique.

When I got home, I got light headed and my blood pressure dropped and I had the feeling of electric currents in my legs and I was having leg spasms. It turned out I was dehydrated and all I needed was Gatorade to restore my electrolytes. Crisis averted.

–Reid.



I’m Really Ready To Do All Those Things I Want To Do
Sunday January 30th 2011, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Denver, Friends, Leukemia, Me, Myself, and Reid, Music

Despite being very fatigued after last night, only having slept for three hours and still generally feeling chemo’d, I hung out with Reiman today. It was important to me to do so and it would have taken a lot (a lot more, anyway) for me to turn down a good old fashioned hang. I think Reiman was only in town for about 48 hours, so I’m happy we got to spend a good chunk of time together, between the Geek Bowl last night and getting lunch and shooting the breeze today. It was great catching up with him before he had to return to the City of Brotherly Love.

Speaking of which (right here someone might state that they do not mean to go off on a tangent; I am not stating that), judging from the crime statistics of the place, it seems to me that Philadelphia calling itself the “City of Brotherly Love” is misleading. Don’t city nicknames have to make some sense? Who’s in charge of officiating these things? Shouldn’t a city’s nickname instantly portray an impression of what that city is actually like? Some fairly obvious reason for the name? For instance, Denver is the Mile High City because of its altitude, Chicago is the Windy City because it’s windy there, and New York City is the Big Apple. They all make perfect sense.

Get it together, Philly!

I hate to tell me this, but I am very close to not accomplishing my personal goal of posting a video of myself playing an original song here by tomorrow. It’s very frustrating for me to realize that I’ve been saying I would do this for several years, and for many of those years I had no excuse for not following through. Even though I actually have an excuse now, I really want to do this thing I’ve been putting off for so long. So I’m going to keep working towards this goal of sharing at least one song I wrote that wasn’t for Better Than The Machine. And the date by which I want to accomplish this goal will be the vaguely worded “not long after chemo ends.” I’d love to get this (and many other things) done before then, but if I don’t, I’m not going to beat myself up.

This month I broke my own rule about not scheduling things too far out in the future. Which, right now, means any time beyond a day or two. While most of these things turned out reasonably well, the truth is that I can’t even predict how I’ll be feeling in an hour, let alone several weeks or months out. Tomorrow always arrives bearing surprises. Over the past three years, those surprises have hampered my ability to do the things I want to be doing, from seeing friends to writing books and comedy to playing music to traveling to see people who are important to me to breaking 30 . Today I was very aware that while going off chemo really freaks me out, I really can’t wait to be done with it.

–Reid.

—————-
Now playing: Barenaked Ladies – It’s Only Me (The Wizard Of Magicland)
via FoxyTunes



Geek Bowl V: The 17th Vice President, Captain Cold, Mal Reynold’s Ship, Toy Story 3 & Ernest P. Worrel
Sunday January 30th 2011, 1:58 am
Filed under: Denver, Friends, Knowledge Junkie, Leukemia, Music, Sodapopcornculture

This evening I had the honor of competing on a team with five brilliant friends in the largest pub quiz event in America: Geek Bowl V. There were between 130 to 150 teams competing in the Fillmore Auditorium tonight for several thousand dollars in prize money. The annual Geek Bowls are produced by Geeks Who Drink, a national pub quiz organization founded in Denver. Geeks Who Drink holds pub quizzes every day of the week at different bars around the country. These pub quizzes are much harder than the weekly trivia we play at The Tavern. Check out these sample questions to get a taste of what a regular Geeks Who Drink quiz is like. The questions are hard and there are eight rounds of ’em.

Our team tonight was put together by one of my bestest buddies in the whole world, David Reiman, who phlew in from Philly to compete in the tournament. The other not Reid members of our team were David’s siblings Becca and Alex and their respective sweethearts, Dan (who flew in from New York) and Shayna. Becca and I are on the same team, along with our parents, that regularly competes at The Tavern. Shayna and Alex sometimes play on our team, too. Our team name for the Geek Bowl was “Four Out Of Six Teachers Can’t Be Wrong,” in reference to all three Reimans and Shayna being teachers or working towards becoming teachers. It turns out that a team with four teachers can, in fact, be wrong.

We didn’t win but we didn’t come in last place, either. My personal favorite round was the music round. Parts of different songs were played by a live mariachi band, who played mariachi arrangements of current and past popular songs. For each song, we had to 1) identify the song being played, and 2) identify someone associated with the song in some way. For example, “What is this song and who popularized it in 1958?” and “What is this song and what actress sang it in a 1965 movie?” It was neat hearing mariachi versions of songs like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “My Way,” and “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.”

I think there were 80 questions to be answered (some rounds had two part questions). Just as each of us on the team answered questions wrong and fought against what turned out to be correct answers, we also each answered many questions correctly. Sometimes confidently, and sometimes because we needed an answer in the next three seconds. Although I assisted with several correct answers and answered some questions correctly with less than full confidence, there are a few specific questions I am really pleased to have answered. Here are four of them, three of which I attribute answering correctly to friends:
 

1. The 17th Vice President of the United States, Schuyler Colfax, was the Vice President to which President?
Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President! The presidential history geek (me) came through. Haha!
 

2. Leonard Snart, also known as Captain Cold, is a villain in what superhero’s rogue’s gallery?
The Flash! I attribute this knowledge to Amy and Jason. While in college, Jason’s enthusiasm for comics led Amy and me to return to comic books years after we had both misguidedly abandoned them in our youth. One of Amy’s favorite comics became The Flash. She taught me all about The Flash, his rogues gallery, and The Speed Force.
 

3. In one round, we had to identify ships in pictures we were shown. There were boats like The Minnow, The Flying Dutchman and The Titanic. And then, there was this ship that Alex and I were both able to identify right away:
 

Serenity

It’s Serenity from the unjustly far too short TV series Firefly. My knowledge of this is entirely thanks to Amy, who introduced me to Joss Whedon and his many excellent TV shows and movies.
 

4. In Toy Story 3, which actor from the previous Toy Story movies was replaced by Blake Clark?
I knew instantly who this was, but I couldn’t remember his name. He played Slinky Dog! He died before the movie was made! Most importantly, he played Ernest in the Ernest movies! This information was met with blank stares from my teammates. Even as a barrage of questions kept coming at us, I closed my eyes and my thoughts went straight to Matt Gallo. Matt Gallo did not introduce me to Ernest, nor does he remind me of Ernest, but somewhere in the far reaches of my mind, a vague memory emerged of Matt and I having a serious discussion about Ernest P. Worrel years ago. And there it was: Jim Varney! Matt, you inspired me somehow. Hell if I know how. Maybe it was through The Force–it was that kind of event. Thanks any which way.

When I woke up this morning, I was still feeling really crappy from Wednesday’s chemo. I decided to forgo spending time with David, who’s only in town for today and tomorrow, and instead slept all day in hopes that I’d feel up to doing more than just filling a chair. This plan worked well: I felt extremely okay until the end of seventh round, when we were subjected to a quizmaster talent show. At that point, my brain realized that it was no longer needed for answering questions and it began shutting down parts of my body accordingly. I’m back to feeling chemo crappy, but I had a great time tonight and don’t regret being a part of Geek Bowl V even a little bit. I’m hopeful that I will be feeling well enough to hang out with David tomorrow.

For that to happen, I need to go to bed right… nnnnnoooowhours ago.

–Reid.

—————-
Now playing: The Beatles – I’m So Tired
via FoxyTunes



Celebrating, Rocking, Awesomeness (Backwards, Poorly, Foppa, respectively)
Monday January 24th 2011, 1:14 am
Filed under: Denver, Family, Music, Word Nerd

Tonight, I’m feeling much better. I started feeling better midday today and kept feeling better from there. My first week back on it, oral methotrexate hit me harder than I anticipated it would. That said, it didn’t hit me nearly hard enough to make me so much as question seeing my journey to its end. The timing–when I could start to feel it, when it was at its worst, and when it finally decided it was bored with me–matches up fairly well with how it used to time out during weeks of [the opposite of total disaster]. When I say “used to,” I mean before methotrexate was beating me with an aluminum bat every day of the week with no recovery time between doses, which is what led to me being taken off of it. It’s very reassuring that it is acting predictably again.

This evening we went to Aunt Lise’s house to celebrate Papa’s birthday. He turned 84 today, and I was glad I felt up to spending the occasion with him. Papa and Gigi, my mom’s parents, moved away from Denver for a long time, for at least 15 years. They moved back last year, and as much as I hate to give it any credit, leukemia bringing me back here from New York has allowed me to reconnect with my grandparents, especially with Papa. He had very good news for everyone: next year, he’ll be turning 83. Apparently, his age is going to start moving in reverse from now on. I told him I looked backward to celebrating his previous birthday with him.

Remembering my forgotten few week old personal goal of posting an original song online by the end of this month, I played some guitar today. I had also played a bit last night, but I haven’t really practiced on a regular basis for… at least… since… hnh. Uhm, let’s see here. I can remember I was practicing “Rain” (singing the tape-reversed words at the end backwards, “nnniaaaaaaaaR” and so on), and I know it was here in Colorado, and I know I wasn’t in the hospital. So, sometime between July-ish 2008 and November 2010. It doesn’t seem like it was very long ago but it had to have been long enough ago that I no longer have any trace of the thick callouses I had redeveloped on my sinister fingers. My timeline makes almost no logical sense so I have no idea when I last practiced, but judging from how bad I was today, it was probably longer ago than I realize.

Okay, wait. I have to admit something. In the second-to-last sentence of that last paragraph right up there, I used the adjective “sinister” to describe my fingers entirely to make you think that I’m an amazing guitar shredding machine. Everything I said in that sentence was true, but now I feel really bad for misleading you. It just seemed so cool when I realized I could use the word as a double entendre. Still, sorry about that.

I’ve been able to recover some old notes about songs I wrote and have also been able to remember enough of others that I’ve been re-evaluating them and rewriting a lot of them more better..ly. I know there were songs I wrote that I was really happy with, but I can only vaguely remember lyrics and lukewarm lixx. It’s very frustrating, especially because I recorded absolutely everything at the time on my computer, which is now either in an attic in Connecticut or in a landfill in Connecticut. I recorded an audio tape in 2005 of some songs that I liked. I sent that tape to Joe in Africa. I won’t bother Joe in England. When he returns to be Joe in America, I will ask if he still has that tape. Is it weird to ask for it back? Yes. Maybe I’ll ask him to play it to me over the phone. Yeah, that’s definitely less weird.

Finally, Peter Forsberg has returned to Colorado to play professional ice hockey. Tonight, he skated with the Avalanche, who were practicing at the Family Fun Center, which is right by my house. I don’t care that he’s injury prone. I don’t care that this was just one practice. I don’t care that the name “Family Fun Center” makes it sound like the Avalanche practice at a Chuck E. Cheese’s. I don’t care about any of that!

Just having Forsberg around, skating with the team, is so amazingly supremely exceptionally fantastically awesome and also pretty great (especially because at trivia the other night, I was complaining about him no longer playing for the Avs) I’ve happily found myself subconsciously muttering “Foppa, Foppa, Foppa,” over and over to myself. Foppa is Forsberg’s fun-to-say Swedish nickname. Although, subconsciously muttering sounds like those the Swedish Chef might make could also indicate some sort of brain damage. Either way, I was very happy to see all the fans on TV that showed up to the Family Fun Center, wearing their #21 burgundy Avalanche jerseys and yellow triple crown Swedish Olympic jerseys, for the sole purpose of seeing a Colorado sports legend do some drills with his team.

Well, for that and then to play ski ball and whack-a-mole and eat some pizza.

–Reid.

—————-
Now playing: The Presidents Of The United States Of America – Stranger
via FoxyTunes