It’s been a long time since I posted.

A REALLY long time.

I wish I had a good concrete reason to say why; I think it intersects somewhere between business, laziness and a lot of the stuff that happened not being very funny.

Not that it was all bad either, in fact terrible things happening to me are frequently hilarious.

Settle down kid.

I got the hernias fixed. I’d been in pain for so long it’s been quite weird to not be constantly hurting. Is this what people are supposed to feel like all the time? How will I meet my moaning and groaning quotas?

My head’s also in a better place than it was. For some reason I find it a lot easier to write about what’s going on in my brain than I do talking about it. I went through a bad down patch, which didn’t make for great writing output. There’s only so many blog posts you can write about not wanting to get out of bed (although with that said, not wanting to get out of bed is a perfectly normal desire, especially if you can rope someone into bringing you food).

 

In fact I feel downright positive about a lot of things (not world politics).

I hope you do too.

 

-Andrew

 

 

I like to think of my body as a very complex machine.

A machine with one job: keeping my brain and by extension ‘me’ alive.

 

My machine is really bad at its job. Really bad. If it worked at my actual job it’d be on its final warning.

I ended up getting an infection in my right leg. Same sort of infection that damn near cost me my left leg a few years ago (I have spent a LOT of time in hospital). As a side note: if a surgeon ever looks at your leg and asks ‘so…can you wiggle your toes?’ I really hope the answer is yes.

I would like my future robot body to turn up in the present. This one’s busted.

And yet…

I’m still astronomically lucky. Despite my many brushes with death (I no longer have near death experiences, death has near Andrew experiences).I can hold everything together enough to work, and despite my best efforts I still have all my limbs.

A hell of a lot of people just aren’t that lucky. So despite everything, right now…I feel pretty good.

 

I just want that robot body, so if you work for Google, could you get on that?

 

 

 

It’s Valentine’s Day here in New Zealand, and I want to tell this story about a boomerang.

About 15 years ago, back when I was a newly minted 21 year old, I went on holiday with my wife to Sydney, Australia. We did the usual tourist stuff, theme parks, swimming, stuffing our faces. We also did a bit of shopping.

As a gag we each took five dollars and went off to find a small gift for the other. She came back with a little blue oil burner and some essential oil and I came back with possibly the worst gift ever given to anyone in good faith.

It was a boomerang.

I should mention it is not this boomerang. We know where it is, but getting to it is another matter. Love is one thing, getting the back of that particular closet is quite another.

 

It was not a quality boomerang. It was a boomerang that, at five whole dollars, was grossly overpriced. She HATED it. Not in an angry way, but in a ‘gently tease you about for the next fifteen years and get a good laugh out of it every time’ kind of way.

But here’s the thing: she kept it. For fifteen years. And for all that time she has resisted any and all attempts to throw it away.

Love is keeping the boomerang.

 

 

 

This post isn’t anything like the last one. I’m quite pleased with it, but it’s different.

There’s no lube. That’s what I’m saying.

You know what? I think I’m making this worse.

Today was my first day back at work. I got in, booted up my computer and hung my unicorn up on the wall.

His name is Toby.

Normal stuff.

Of course everyone asked about how my holidays were, and they were mostly pretty good, except for the hernia. That led to talking about the first near fatal hernia and cracking jokes about my many, many brushes with death.

Probably too many really. When I tried to count them I ran out of fingers and had to move on to toes.

Between accidents, illness and occasional malice I’ve nearly died more than a dozen times.

I’d like to think that’s all behind me now, but sometimes I’d like to think I look a bit like Ryan Reynolds and that’s just wildly untrue.

This has led to a fair bit of introspection. Actually it’s led to a fair bit of comfort eating but in between mouthfuls there’s been some introspection too. One of the things that cropped up over and over was that sometimes when death has been hanging around generally making a nuisance of itself, the difference between living and dying was made by something small.

And, just as importantly the difference between resilience and despair has again, been small things.

It’s been a friend sending me an advance copy of his book to read while I was in chemo.

It’s been my wife buying me silly things that she knows will make my day even if they make no sense to anyone else.

There has been more than one unicorn.

That’s why I have both Tony the unicorn and a framed picture of a pineapple on the wall at work.

It was my brother turning up at my place  to help me walk to the end of the drive when that was as far as I could go. And my parents sitting with me in chemo while all I could do was wheeze at them.

These things made that difference.

I’m saying all of this because I’m seeing a lot of people freaking out about where their world is at right now. And yep, for a lot of people things really suck right now for all kinds of reasons.

For some of them a part of that freak out is the feeling that they can’t do anything to help, and in a lot of situations they can’t help, not in the big powerful solve everything kind of way that we all wish we could offer at one point or another. But there are always small things. The little bits of help and comfort that don’t seem like much but can make all the difference in the world.

Of course if you CAN do a big thing, go do that, but if you can’t remember that just because you might not be able to do much doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.

 

 

 

This story is completely safe for work, despite what that title suggests.

A few days ago an ultrasound technician accidentally squirted half a bottle of cold lube into my underpants.

This stuff right here.

I was in getting an ultrasound because the site of my orchidectomy was hurting and I’m understandably nervous about any weird pains in that area.

Weirdly this pain didn’t feel like the cancer pain, it felt like a much older nearly fatal incident in my life. When I lived in Australia I had something called an incarcerated hernia, whereupon some of my guts slipped through a hole in my insides and then started to die.

I have a vivid memory of sitting in Sydney hospital listening with great interest as a very nice surgeon argued with a hospital administrator a room or so away. The admin guy was concerned that I had no insurance, and the surgeon was concerned that I was dying. In the end she said ‘I will take this boy (this was 15 years ago, I was 20) home and cut him open on my kitchen table if you don’t let me operate now’.

I always appreciated that. I still remember her name but I feel like I shouldn’t mention it on the internet.

That memory is also completely fabricated. It really happened, but I couldn’t possibly have heard it because I had passed out when that bit happened and only ever found out about it because my friend Josh told me afterwards. He had called me an ambulance and saved my life.

I had for some strange reason decided I was going to work despite all the pain I was in. I had gotten dressed and made it all the way down the stairs before the pain got so bad I had to go back inside.

I collapsed.

I still didn’t think to call an ambulance.

I’d like to say I’m older and smarter now but all the evidence suggests that I’m just older.

So with the all the death concentrated in one area of my body (more or less) when it started hurting I figured I should get it checked out* and a tired looking After Hours doctor had sent me off to get an ultrasound.

It didn’t start well.

A few doors down someone had a TV on and through the wall’s inadequate  sound proofing Sponge Bob Squarepants (The Movie) sounded an awful lot like someone had summoned a gaggle of enthusiastic demons to laugh at my pain.

Once we started there was an awful lot of juggling of towel, underwear and careful hand placement to protect the little that is left of my modesty. Then, because I’ve had so much surgery it was tough for the ultrasound tech to get a good idea of what was happening.

She got me to clench and re-clench my stomach muscles. Then at some point the ultrasound gun started to stick, so she went to add more of the supposedly warmed lubricant to the contact pad.

I do not know precisely what happened next.

I moved, she moved, and all at once my underwear was significantly colder and heavier.

I let out a sound I have never made before and hope to never make again and twitched, which sent a glob of unmoored lube sailing through the air to land in my hair.

Something I did not notice until I got home.

The upshot of all this is that I seem to have a very small hernia, not anything dangerous but I’ll probably need more surgery at some point. Which sucks, but is so far away from really bad news I’m pretty OK with it.

So, yeah, that’s how my 2017’s going so far.

 

 

* This is code for: My wife said ‘Andrew go to the Doctor’. See: older, not smarter.

 

 

This is Connie.

connie-being-cute

My wife found her as a tiny kitten, barely a few weeks old, inside a rag bin where she worked. She brought Connie back to our place, and she’s been a vital part of our lives ever since.

She’s also the devil.

What will eventually come to be known an exhibit A.

What will eventually come to be known an exhibit A.

 

I mean she’s actually Satan’s earthly form.

This is a short list of things she’s done in the last seventy-two hours.

  1. Ran across the house, hopped up onto my desk, meowed at me and then ripped off the worst cat fart in recorded history. She DESTROYED that room for forty-five minutes. This is not the first time she’s done this.
  2. Woken from a deep sleep in order to bite my big toe.
  3. Woken ME from a deep sleep to bite my other big toe.
  4. Bolted her food and then wailed about the lack of food in her bowl.
  5. Barfed in her own water bowl.
  6. Barfed on my foot.
  7. Attacked my bigger cat Harry despite the fact that he’s four times her size.
  8. Traumatized Harry so badly he’s now hiding in my room.
  9. Eaten a phone charger cord (not plugged in).
  10. Gotten stuck in a drawer.
  11. Hidden inside a hat box on top of a wardrobe for the express purpose of bursting out of it once everyone else had gone to bed.
  12. Leapt off the wardrobe onto me when I didn’t wake up sufficiently.
  13. Woke me up at 5am because breakfast.
  14. She woke me up by biting me on the face. Again, not the first time.
  15. She did that by somehow getting into what I could have sworn was a locked room. I’m making this an extra point because I’m pretty sure she broke the laws of physics to do it.
  16. Run up my legs and onto my shoulder when she wanted a cuddle. With her pointy, pointy claws.
  17. Curled up, purring, on Harry’s favorite chair. Harry again traumatized.
  18. Run off with the touch pen for my surface. You might think this means it went missing and I blamed her, but you’d be wrong.
  19. Made a concerted effort to get trapped in the freezer.
  20. Turned into a furry angry glove when the tummy rubs she was getting became somehow insufficient.
  21. Attacked my foot…while I was walking past.
  22. Gotten into a fight with another cat.
  23. Gotten into a fight with a chair.
  24. Gotten into a fight with her own foot. It went something like this: “What’s this thing? I must bite it!” “Aaaargh something bit me, I will kick it in the face!” “Something kicked me! Bite!”
  25. Hidden inside my duvet cover.
  26. Shed enough fur to make a second evil cat who is also the Devil.

And is now curled up into a tight ball next to the heater, purring contentedly. Apparently the true path to happiness is being an evil furry little terror.

Still, Harry is no longer traumatized.

harry

 

We won.

We won by one point.

We won by one point at least in part because I answered a question no one else in the room did.

We won by one point because I somehow recognized a frame from the movie The Princess Diaries 2.

Not the Princess Diaries.

No.

The Princess Diaries 2. 

A movie I apparently know so well that I got it because I recognized the emblem on the bow and arrow that Anne Hathaway’s character is wielding. Anne Hathaway was digitally removed from the frame as was the other character in the scene. Yet somehow my brain, which has in the past managed to misplace every vital item I own in one way or another (I once found my keys in the freezer), took one look at this chopped up movie frame and went ‘you know this!’.

When I turned out to be right, there was much laughing at my expense…and someone put forth the idea that we would now probably win by one point, and it would be down to my in depth knowledge of obscure Anne Hathaway fronted comedies. I said that if that happened we should all yell out “PRINCESS DIARIES 2 MOTHERFUCKERS!”

And then we won by one point. I couldn’t have written it better.

I’ve been asked more than once how much I make up for this blog, but the honest answer is that I just don’t have to make things up, because strange things just keep happening. I just write them down.

Here’s the movie frame in question, with everyone left in the picture:

3-the-princess-diaries-2-33425684-485-389

Wait…is that Chris Pine?

 

And since I’ve decided to own this, one more time for the cheap seats:

 

PRINCESS DIARIES 2 MOTHERFUCKERS!

qantas-economy-class-1

I have undertaken an epic trip to attend WorldCon in Kansas City, Missouri. This has involved many flights, and I knew things were going to get weird.

I didn’t think it would get weird quite so quickly.

These are my notes from the first three hour part of my journey, the flight from Christchurch to Sydney.

6.10: Journey is off to a great start. I have a row of seats to myself even though the rest of the plane is quite full. I got up at 3am, so now is the time for sleeping.

6.35: An elderly Chinese woman has appeared at the end of my row.

6.40: She doesn’t seem to want to communicate. All good.

6.50: She actually hasn’t moved at all.

7.00: Or acknowledged the flight attendant.

7.10: Still zero movement. She has stared straight ahead (I think, she has dark glasses on) since she appeared there.

7.15: In my head I’ve named her Li Jing. It’s the only Chinese name I actually know.

7.35: Li Jing doesn’t appear to be breathing.

7.40: What if she’s dead?

7.45: Holy shit I think she might be dead.

7.50: Or she’s a hallucination. I don’t want to ask her if she’s real just in case she says no.

8.00: No moving. No breathing. Li Jing is wither dead, a hallucination or a very realistic robot is standby mode. None of this seems very likely.

8.15: What if Qantas has ghosts? I didn’t consider the ghost angle.

8.40: Gah…I closed my eyes for a second and Li Jing is gone. I can’t see where she went.

9.00: I’m now worried I imagined all of this.

9.15 (I think, we’re now on Sydney time): I actually kind of miss Li Jing. She wasn’t a comforting presence, but she was quiet and for the last fifteen minutes I’ve been listening to a very noisy Australian man named Bruce give his opinion of many things. Come back Li Jing, I promise not to ask if you’re dead.

9.25 Goddammit Bruce.

9.27: Goddammit Bruce.

9.40: We’re landing. I no longer know what’s real and what’s not. Is this a dream? Why would my brain do this to me? Bruce is still talking.

I don’t even know what time it is anymore: I’m in Sydney airport waiting for my next flight.

Bruce is thirty five feet away.

 

 

 

ghostbusters

It was awesome.

Despite one of the most fraught marketing campaigns in modern movie history and a very average trailer that doesn’t properly sell the movie, Ghostbusters 2016 is a really good, fun film.

I say this as a huge fan of the first film. So much so I still occasionally ask my wife if she’s the Gatekeeper.

Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon have an easy chemistry to their relationship onscreen that makes up for some of the holes in the script, and really helps the jokes to stick. Without this chemistry (and a fun turn from Chris Hemsworth as the dumbest man on the planet), the movie would still have been fun, but the leads playing off each other elevates it into one of the better films I’ve seen this year.

 

The story feels familiar, even if it isn’t identical to the first film. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy play estranged friends Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, scientists who have taken very different paths in life after they co-authored a book on the supernatural. When real ghosts start coming out of the woodwork (and the plumbing) in New York, they team up with lunatic engineer Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and walking New York history encyclopedia Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) team up to beat down the undead with SCIENCE (and dirty jokes). Lots and lots of dirty jokes.

And Chris Hemsworth, who turns out to be a really good comic actor, playing the dumbest secretary who has ever walked the face of the earth.

The main cast works so well together that their chemistry helps stick the entire movie. I already knew Wiig and McCarthy as comic actors, but Mc Kinnon and Jones were completely new to me, and they both absolutely kicked ass. Jones really sells Patty as a very smart person who’s making the best of having a suck job before the Ghostbusters come along, and Mc Kinnon sells Holtzman as the kind of insane genius who’s almost as much a danger to her own team as the ghosts are.

It’s not a perfect film, but the only really big downside was that Ghostbusters suffers from a lack of good villain. It’s not Neil Casey’s fault, he gives crazed and downtrodden loner Ramon his all, but the script just doesn’t have enough space in it for him to move and he comes off as a one note baddie. Still, the movie is less about the plot and more about the cast having a good time bustin’ ghosts for our amusement and they have an absolute blast doing it.

Ignore the shrieking internet throngs who are hating this without seeing it. Go along and make up your own mind. I for one thought it was a good time at the movies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been having good days and bad days. This probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, and even the bad days haven’t been too bad. I’ve mostly managed to wind up in the right buildings at the right times without being arrestably naked and I haven’t been fired, incarcerated or savagely beaten in quite some time.

But they were bugging me a lot. I talked about it last post quite a bit.

Then I had a conversation with a close, somewhat disreputable friend (that actually covers quite a few of my friends, but you know who you are). He told me that the person that I had been pre-cancer is gone, and that can be hard to accept. NO matter I do there’s nothing I can do to go back to being that guy. There’s no getting back to normal; now is normal.

It sounds depressing but it made me feel better. Instead of trying to match up to some half remembered vision of what I used to be like, I’m instead building towards being better than I am right now. Again, things aren’t too bad at all, but I do have a way to go before I’m where I want to be. Somehow thinking of it that way instead of trying to get back to an old normal makes me feel less guilty about the bad moments I still get from time to time.

I did a bit of reading, and it seems quite common amongst survivors of major trauma and illness to go hunting for what we were (or we thought we were) before existence kicked us in the shins. It was a major mental step to let go of that, but I’m feeling good about it.

The cat just celebrated my breakthrough by being heartily sick under my desk.

And on my foot. Second time in two weeks.

It’s nice to know my place in the grand scheme of things, which apparently is smelling faintly of Hill Science Diet for Cats.