Pathos Negative

As I dig through my old film negatives from the mid-90’s to catalog them while on a late-night bender, I have many thoughts, most happy. But among them, one sour thought sticks out like a thorn.

My lovelife in one sentence: “I liked you, but I did nothing about it.”

I guess the follow-on corollary is: “Through my inaction, the other guy took the bullet.”

Shit and Pony Show

I think I should just quit. Just fucking quit. Leave this job I need to survive. Give away my things (sell what I can, if I’m not too shellshocked to ask money for it), move out to a shit town in the middle of nowhere, and just wait for death. Maybe Death By Redneck is a valid life goal, who fucking knows.

The new role is shit, with a side of shit. Spread it around into nights and weekends. That comes close to what will be on my plate for the next months. I’m having difficulty wrapping my head around what the hell is going on. I’d hope it will get better, but I’ve given up on hope.

Sat in on a call tonight at 9pm with the team, some of which are in India and China. I’m OK with understanding most accents, but when you squeeze their voice through a VoIP connection, transfer it to the land line between my company’s PBX and my cell carrier, and then through the cell network to my shitty cellphone, what starts as a Chinese engineer speaking proper English drenched in technical jargon becomes a streaming, clipped garble of non-sequiturs. It’s reminiscent of how my brain functions when I’m stoned: I hear half of the words, and the rest fall on the floor; the ones I do manage to hear make absolutely no sense at all. I can’t connect the god damned dots.

And I’m supposed to be a contributing member of the team?

In the End

Same company, same job, new role. Heavy duties. Soul-crushing. Instead of making sure typical users can play Farmville while on Skype with company hardware, I’ll be managing a room full of test systems, each identical except for their own particular quirks, while I attempt to run a range of benchmarks on them to determine how much of our product fails across the operating envelope. The guy doing it now is reaching the end of his contract this week, and I have 3 days to spin up and learn what he has taken 2 years to know. The training should’ve started a month ago. Fuck-My-Life is right.

I’m not one to revel in the chance for overtime. My preferred life balance involves office hours exclusively between Monday and Friday during the daytime. This new role means I have to drag my ass to the lab during nights and weekends to push buttons and change hardware if something goes into the weeds so badly that I can’t operate it from my remote connection. I even have a weekly call at 9 PM on Thursdays because the guy requesting this data is in India. I’m not happy at all.

I know I have an existential crisis on my hands. I know I’m the master of my own fate and all that bullshit. But I also know this pain is just the initial stretching out as it’s reamed into me. If I just relax and go with it, maybe the pain will subside. Maybe? Shit, I might even enjoy it before my own contract ends. Who knows.


I have heard of the Shadow. It is that part of ourselves that we do not acknowledge. It is the unlived life. It is the dog we do not feed. It is the devil, but it is not evil; it is our salvation from our own egos. I’ve never heard of this definition until lately.

The shadow is necessary, and it is intrinsically a part of us. Our western, christian culture refuses to accept it. We see divinity as the Holy Trinity: The Creator, the Love, the Breath. But the tripod of the divine is incomplete; we need the fourth leg, the Reality, to round it out. That is the shadow, that is what grounds us, that is what bridges the chasm between sacred and profane and allows us to cross over while still in this life. If our heads are in the stars, then our feet are in the clouds; we lose our footing, and the shadow is there to keep us anchored.

It is my goal, then, to discover the parts of myself and my ego that are in the shadow. It may kill me, it may be a crucible, a fire that disfigures me. In identifying what is seen, I may discover what is unseen, and though I may not like it nor put it on display, it must be recognized if I am to be made whole. Consider the unlikely union of the characters Faust and his tempter Mephistopheles; they are polar opposites, but by the end of the story, they are tempered by each other and become parts of the same whole. Both achieve salvation.

Day requires night; this is a known fact to me, but seldom do I apply it to my own ego. I hide a lot of ugly baggage, and it is time for me to step into my own shadow, identify the baggage, and either unpack it or eject it from my soul. Relocation of the personality’s center of gravity is a form of suicide; I’d rather my ego die than my body. I could use some selflessness right now.

“Why don’t you die now and enjoy the rest of your life?” — Meizumi Roshi

Sick Broken Soldiers

Every day, I feel the damning realization that I am getting old. Things fall apart. Currently, I am sitting at the confluence of several factors that are creating the perfect storm for health issues, and every one of them is aiming to wreck my personal savings.

When I signed on with my employer, I turned down the crappy health insurance plan they offered; it was a “fee for service” plan, meaning it was just a discount card. Even with all the money I’d be paying out, all they could offer is some percentage off most procedures. Once I read the terms, I felt I could find a better health insurance policy on my own, so I opted out. Big mistake. Two weeks ago, I applied for personal insurance; even with the crappy terms I selected, they still denied me due to “preexisting conditions”.

So, for the first time in 11 years, I have no insurance. Unless I appeal the ruling, opt for even shittier terms, or luck out and find another company who would insure me, I’m screwed until January 2014, which is when the Affordable Care Act will mandate that insurers cannot deny you or overcharge you for preexisting conditions. But that’s a long way away.

A week ago, I certainly could’ve used it. I spent the majority of a workday in the E.R. Went to work that morning, started my coffee and got into a few emails before I felt a tightness in my chest. Didn’t know what to think of it, so I started panicking. Eventually, my pulse was racing between 83 bpm and 133 bpm; thought I was having a heart attack. Packed up my things, told my coworkers I needed to go to the E.R. They walked me to the security desk, who then called 911 with a code blue, the on-campus ERT personnel were alerted and came over to assist, the fire department showed up, the EMS showed up. They got me settled down, and I decided it best to go to the E.R. for tests. Four hours later, the doctor gives me the good news that I didn’t have a heart attack; I had a case of acid reflux. All that theater, all that drama, all that life-and-death, over heartburn. The most expensive case of heartburn in my life.

Doc prescribed some daily antacid regimen and sent me home.

Fast-forward 5 days; I’m at the cafe, sitting on my legs. After some time, I get up to head home. Knee starts catching and popping. I hobble to the car. Knee’s sore for the next 2 days. Matter of fact, both knees have been giving me problems. Most of my joints, actually.

Current issue, though: Friday, my gut starts hurting. mid right side, just underneath my ribcage. Nothing there but the ascending large intestine and liver. I soldier through the low-level pain, and am still having issues with it, but I can’t afford to make another expensive mistake if it’s just gas or blockage or irritated bowels. Worse case, it’s liver problems; worst still is if it’s gall bladder problems (and that the pain is presenting in a different place). At any rate, I can’t afford to get checked out, and that seriously bothers me.

Part of me worries that the antacid regimen is to blame. I doubt it, but I skipped this morning’s dose, and today’s been a bit better. Had a long night of sleep this morning, and I think that helped the most. Hope to have a good night of sleep tonight. Eventually, it’ll work out (I hope that much).

I’m half afraid that most of my health problems are influenced by my lifestyle. “Diseases of affluence”, they’re called. Sedentary living and rich diet. And now that I can’t afford healthcare, the health issues are coming home to roost. How did our ancestors live through it? The only way they knew how: they soldiered through it, bellyached, and went on with their lives.