Thursday, August 30, 2007

thoughts about life, ven diagrams, and grandpa

i've recently become addicted to staying up late even when i don't want to. i've settled into an ugly routine whereby i have to surf the internet before going to bed. in some sense, this is a disaster--i spend the next day trying not to fall asleep in my office. if i go to bed at 11:30pm, i must first read sports blogs, check the other journal wiki, and creep and crawl all over the world wide web. and then after shutting my laptop and eyes, my mind stays up for another hour, wrestling with itself over this, that, and the best strategies for falling asleep.

tonight the random web surfing consisted mostly of some articles by jerry brewer about a young girl who is battling a cancer known as neuroblastoma. as i tried to sleep, the columns kept reminding me of my grandpa; yes, the same grandpa that you've been hearing from on this blog during the last month.

grandpa has been fighting cancer for more than a year now. my parents tell me that he has taken a rough turn recently; his white blood cells (those cancer fighting fellows inside the body) are fine, but he can't manage to eat or drink anything. at the moment he's tethered to a hospital IV, and we're all hoping that he can get hydrated and find an appetite. his condition is bad enough that my parents have canceled our annual labor day adventure in eastern washington so that they can be close to springfield in case his condition worsens.

in the meantime (i.e., until grandpa gets better or worse), all i can do is pray and stay up late thinking (and then writing).

although the situation may look grim, i have plenty of hope. for one thing, i'm confident that if it's nearing grandpa's time, he will be at home at his next destination. but i also have hope that he will make it through this scare.

like the little girl in brewer's seattle times articles, grandpa has been rather sick before. in fact, more than a year ago i found myself pensively considering his cancer and started to write a blog entry to express my feelings. however, my metaphors got all tangled and grandpa got better, so i abandoned the post.

at the moment the post is mostly a jumbled mess, but i don't know that i'm going to have a chance to work on it anytime soon. so i thought i'd post it in all it's confusing glory. i have inserted red asterisks to indicate random jumps in thought that you aren't expected to follow. red text indicate broken thoughts that probably won't make sense.

[another thought brought to you by the kangaroo and kiwi]

"i hope to see my friend and shake his hand. i hope the pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams; i hope..."

~andy duphrane (the shawshank redemption)

as an editor in the field of psychiatry i support brainy academics who say some pretty boring stuff. they write of affymetrix oligonucleotide microarrays and lymphocyte gene expression, alpha-synuclein immunohistochemistry and PSEN 1 mutations. in the publish-or-perish world of research, they write to stay alive. grant money is to alzheimer's disease,*

i remember edwin a. abbott as the wicked writer of '96. his one-hundred year old shadow cast a dark pallor over my mid-winter break. were locked in on seattle. his shadow first crossed my path during one of those odd weeks that seattle schools designate as vacation. districts pass out like candy. the children love february break, and my family was vacationing in mexico. we strapped a big blue camper to our backs and chugged south to yuma, arizona. there we met my snowbird grandparents. grandma and grandpa green. the sun and sand called my name. i remember grandma and grandma's rig: big burly and brown. my grandparents were explorers. they traveled off-the-beaten path before there was a beaten path. before it was popular. i'm sure there must have been some destination in mind, but the plan is lost somewhere in the dust of time. we squeezed four adults, my teenage self, and some lemon drops into the burly brown chevy beast. today my grandpa could use some of those lemon drops--the chemo has him down to a meager 145--but back then he was a burly barrel of toughness. i thought he was indestructable.* at the time, i imagined abbott, the just as william shakespeare haunted june of '01, mr. abbott weasled his way into vacation plans. my of my mid-winter break. my family and i people are obvolute circles. when our circles slop into one another we form insanely interconnected ven diagrams. take your pick of sociologists--auguste comte, georg simel, pierre bourdieu--whatever their theoretical bent, these dudes all agree that we are connected. . for instance, if you're reading this, you're probably connected to me in some way. the intensity of our connections is constantly in flux. today your circle might be big and bold at the point where it overlaps my circle. but as life passes, that circle will fade.*

sometimes we have a tendency to live this life like jugglers. we keep tossing those circles around,
fanning the flame for each of those circles. we don't let them fade. in moderation, this is probably a good thing. otherwise, all the circles will fade and we'd be left on a lonely island, a circle to ourself. conversely, this juggling act is also a failure to recognize the very nature of life. friends and family fade in and out. this is life; that's the way it is.

but sometimes circles suddenly disappear. (flashy quote from poet; talk about grandpa; that's really what i wanted to talk about.

okay, back to 2007. an explanation of this post:

i was planning to recount a story in which my family and grandpa and grandma piled into their truck and went for a drive through the desert. we nearly got stuck out in a dried-up lake bed. i can't recall what this had to do with any of my metaphors except that my aim was to talk about grandpa.

my life as a science editor is somehow related to the life of
edwin a. abbott an author, mathematician, and christian theologian. i'm not sure how we're related except that during the trip that i hoped to describe, i was forced to read abbott's flatland for my pre-calculus or geometry class. flatland is about a society of shapes (including circles), ven diagrams consist of circles, jugglers juggle circles, little tropical islands look like circles, and thus circles were my main conceit.

the end.


for an updated version of this story, see this post.

1 comments: said...

Just a little note for the English "kid" from the mathematician "aunt"( I don't feel like a cousin), it's Venn diagram, not ven. I love your rambling thoughts and trying to figure out how to deal with my Uncle Norman's condition. I understand as I try to remember many good moments with him and figure out my own feelings toward this man I respect so very much