Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The shit keeps hitting the fan.

I had the worst rehearsal I can remember this evening. Quartet rehearsal went ok, even better than ok. But orchestra was a different story. I was the only violist, and the pieces were tricky, and I they have often been the last thing I practice (or first thing I neglect to practice) after drills/scales.etudes/ recital pieces I will never play/string quartet for our on again/off again ensemble. I sucked, and was just mortified, and then depressed. I wanted to crawl under a rock. I told the director I was overwhelmed and something would have to give, and it would probably be orchestra, and he seemed ok with it, so I guess it's not just my perception - I am pretty bad, worse than the people who don't even practice. After a few minutes he suggested putting off a decision for a day or two. Maybe things will seem different then, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

not survivors' guilt

I do not consider myself a cancer survivor.

I had surgery to remove a very small something that I couldn't feel and that didn't make me ill. The something was so small that it wasn't even there by the time of the surgery; a prior biopsy had gotten it all. As small as I am, the surgery left me essentially unscathed. The very small something was deemed so small that I was allowed to forgo some of the more arduous cancer treatments. I did not "survive" cancer; if anything, I survived two-months-of-intense-worrying that I brought upon myself.

I am not a survivor, yet I did survive, and I feel guilty. Not that I survived, but that I survived and have decided not to take tamoxifen (or any aromatase inhibitors, should the oncologist suggest one instead). This whole thing has been relatively easy (except for the worrying), and so many other people have suffered through cancer that isn't curable or preventable, and here is this wonderful cancer-preventative drug offered to me, and I push it away because I can't live with the side effects.

Can't live with! What about people who have to do real chemo? Those are some side effects right there, much tougher than little old tamoxifen side effects. I read message boards and facebook groups full of people complaining about tamoxifen, some who attribute everything under the sun to it. Despite the misery, many of these people are resigned to the whole 5 or 10 years' course, for their children or their husbands' or their grandbabies' sakes, they say. I admire them for their tenacity, since I barely lasted 2 weeks on the stuff before I said no thank you, I'll take my chances with recurrence probability.

I have been so lucky, what with the nothing surgery and the exemption from radiation. The universe made things much easier for me than it could have, and here I am slapping its face.

Monday, March 23, 2015

man out of time

Running: this morning I ran 5 miles in just over 50 minutes, and it was a struggle. I must keep on, though.

Work: Day 1 (of 4) of agile training, and I want to stab myself. It's just so much crap. Plus I got taken off the work I was doing (longterm fixing) to put out some new fire some VP of muckymuck is screaming about. Plus I'm getting sucked into DBA work (again), the kind I don't know how to do. The company contracted to do DBA work apparently wants to get paid for stuff like that, and my company doesn't want to pay. I want to retire. I am not a company man.

Viola: morning practice ok; I even remembered how to do 3 over 2. evening practice not so great, but I was tired. Scales ok, etude worse, Bach better (I spent about 10 minutes on 2 measures, finally got them sounding consistently like what I hear in my head), haydn worse, Puccini sounded like I'd never seen it before. Does not bode well for Wednesday's rehearsal, when my stand partner will be absent and the other violist's attendance is always a question mark.

And now here it is going on 10pm , and this joe's dead tired and going to bed.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

from the existential to the mundane

joe positive can complain about anything, I tell you what.

I had another uncomfortable viola lesson yesterday. It was weird. We talked about the adult/recital thing and what it boiled down to was this: my teacher said I could play if I wanted to, but he thought it was strange. So basically, I would get no support from him whatsoever. I said no thank you, that's just ridiculous, recitals are hard enough, you really want your teacher to be in your corner for that. It also came out that he probably didn't have his shit together enough to get a separate adults-only recital going, and besides, the other teachers whose adults he wanted to include in this soiree don't share his prejudice, and prefer to have their adults in their own studios' recitals. 

So, no recital for joe positive unless I agree to the terms stated above. I said how about you teach me the erstwhile recital piece line by line, and we won't even think about a recital. He said ok, and proceeded to "teach" by having me play a line and then asking me what I was trying to do. This went nowhere for a while and then it was time to leave.

I am so insanely angry with him. He says things that are painful, he makes me feel terrible, He must want me to quit but he won't fire me. He may say one little nice thing every three weeks, one brava in all of two years, and I fall for it every time, but it always comes back to the same thing. I come to him for his teaching, but all he gives is the time. I ask him a question in email and he never answers. He is so dismissive of me, and he didn't used to be. I wish I knew why.

I have to stop these lessons. I just have to. But I keep putting it off: until this, until that..."maybe it will do me good to just do etudes for a while and not have to worry about pieces, I didn't really want to be in that recital anyway, maybe things will be better now that I have accepted the role of the Adult Student, maybe, maybe..." I wrote a pretty good resignation email but did not send it. But I have it. And it's pretty good.

I will wait a week: 
  • one more lesson
  • one more (ugh) rehearsal
  • until after another teacher's open-house thing (a reading party for adults, imagine that) next Saturday
  • until I can find out when this other teacher is free to start
I will give it a week. But then I will have to make a decision.

Friday, March 20, 2015

decisions, decisions

We went to the orchestra tonight. While the program wasn't 100% compelling, it did provide me with a couple of hours completely unplugged - no email, no social media, no work-related instant messages, no viola to practice, no clothes to launder, etc. This unplugged time gave me a couple of hours to think. For example:

I want to stop feeling like my life is over

I want to start taking progesterone again, so I can feel like a real person

I want to stop trying to learn to play this god damn instrument

I want my life to be over, because I have lost so much of what was worthwhile

I feel unwell lately

I don't want to become a burden to anyone

My father died at 51 years 8 months. I am 51 and will have 8 months in July

There are people I idolize, wish I could be like

I don't want to be the one people point at and laugh at, because I'm so ridiculous

No decisions yet, just mulling it all over.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

it occurs to me

I just saw a facebook photo of an acquaintance sitting on a beach, looking happy.

I should go to a beach sometime.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


This has become one shitty weekend. I don't want to do anything. I try to practice viola and want to throw it against a wall. Don't want to go out, don't want to stay in. What I want is: nothingness.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

the elephant in the room

Long week, tiring week, feel really crummy physically, spills over into mentally. I can run, but it takes a lot out of me to do it. My feet feel like blocks of cement, and standing for too long is painful. Last night I had lots of foot cramps while standing to practice viola, but sitting down and taking pressure off them resulted in more cramps. I am always tired. I can fall asleep standing up. My concentration is nil. I have a swollen painful lymph node in my abdomen, of all places, what up with that? It could definitely be worse - I could still be on tamoxifen, for example - but this is no fun.

I was underprepared as usual for my viola lesson today, and my recent luck seemed to run out. What's wrong with the Bach? Everything, to the point that my teacher couldn't even articulate what he wanted, I guess because so much of it was wrong. 

He also let slip that he thought that adults participating in recitals was "very strange". I think he was trying to get me to opt out of the upcoming recital, but that was a crummy way to do it. I've played in his recitals for the past 2 years; was that also strange? Have I looked ridiculous all this time? This is the kind of thing I can drive myself nuts over.

Last week I had a trial lesson with a different teacher. I liked him, but decided to wait until summer to switch, partly because I had committed to playing in this recital (and orchestra and quartet, also led by my current teacher). Secretly I hoped that things would turn around and I would feel better about staying with my current teacher. Now I wish I had just switched and gotten it over with.

Monday, March 9, 2015

bleh Monday

A whine: I've been off tamoxifen 17 days, a day longer than I was on it in the first place. Right after I stopped taking it, a lot of side effects went away immediately, but now some have crept back. I am grouchy. My body temperature is beyond reason and beyond control, a bad thing to be when it's 80F outside, 75+ inside my house, and 67F in my cube. I am tired. I tend to fall asleep in weird places, like at the computer or while playing viola. My stomach is messed up. My old friend mr lymph node has popped up just below my belly button and it hurts. It aches. By evening my feet feel like waterlogged blocks of wood and it's hard to stand on them very long. This means I take a lot of breaks while practicing and lose my already-tenuous focus.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

in the name of

This morning I ran eight miles, and in the first time in ages ran out of my neighborhood, under the bridge where homeless people sometimes sleep, down to a riverside park with hills and quiet. And dogs. I didn't stop to chat with any of them, but it made me happy to see dogs enjoying a pretty park on a pretty day.

I had another bizarre hippy dippy dream last night: I was trying to coordinate a number of "good works" to be performed in the name of/in memory of my great friend who killed himself almost nine years ago. In the dream, it was the present, so this involved commemorating something that happened a long time ago, and it felt odd to be dredging that up. The "good works" consisted of things my friend himself had done or started, along with other things we thought might be nice to do. I had to find people I hadn't been in touch with for years, and in an odd twist, some of these were several-times-removed, like my friend's (the suicide) old college friend's brother, whom I had never met but was now contacting to do nice things for other people we both had never met. And all of this was taking place via telephone calls (which I hate), in a house or dorm or something where I lived with a lot of people from past and present corners of my life, and in addition to the good works thing we were having to coordinate stuff like getting the laundry started.

Why "good works"? I am not that good of a person. Why in someone's name or memory; why not just because? Why were all those people there? A head-examiner might say it was a wish to gather good memories (of good people) and keep them all in one place, or re-live them. But so what?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

don't rush

Someone said to me this week that maybe it's not always best to rush through bad stuff, trying to get to the other side, where it ends. Specifically, she was talking about my dog, and how it might be ok to just feel sad about it for a while. I have spent much of the past week and a half rushing around, staying really busy and really tired, probably to avoid feeling much. But maybe my friend is right.

Anyway, despite my rushing around and staying really busy and really tired, it still hits me like a ton of bricks sometimes. The house feels so empty. There is no one waiting for me when I get home from wherever I've rushed off to. I keep thinking I need to get home to take her out, or feed her, or say hi. Maybe it's one of her good days and she'll be on her feet, waiting at the door. Or maybe she'll be lying on her good side dozing, and not in so much pain, and she'll look my way when I come in the door. But of course that doesn't happen, because she's not here.

I have wasted this whole day doing nothing, or rather failing at most things I tried. I worked a little. I barely practiced because I can't stand the noise I make. Lesson tomorrow, yada yada, not ready, etc, and I have no excuse that I can offer.