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Middle aged

I got teased today for being middle aged before my time, or potentially before my time as the word “cougar” was used despite any evidence for it.

The reason I’m middle aged is the whole hypothyroidism thing. When I’d web-diagnosed myself in November the blood test showed I was only kinda sorta hypothyroid (TSH level of 5.9, where “normal” was somewhere under 5 or 5.5). My doctor even said we could forgo the synthroid drug since it was only slightly off, but I had been feeling somewhat shitty since the spring and wanted to try it out. I did end up with an abundance of energy for a while, my apartment got cleaned and I finally had a housewarming party and was more productive at work. Then that kind of waned but you can’t be on speed forever.

So I wasn’t completely surprised but still pissed off that my 6 week checkup had my TSH level now at a 9, which is the wrong way it’s supposed to go (TSH = thyroid stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary gland, higher values means it’s trying harder to get the thyroid to work, and taking synthroid should make TSH levels drop). The treatment is a higher dosage of synthroid, but my doctor now thinks I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune disease where your body is attacking the thyroid.

Everything I’ve read on the internet says that Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism are most common in middle aged women. So there it is. Next stop, menopause!

I get another blood test in 6 weeks that should indicate the Hashimoto’s or not, though it doesn’t really matter, treatment is the same. But besides the sadness over the loss of my few remaining shreds of youth, I am also upset to have acquired an actual disease. I’ve had plenty of injuries and I’m far from sane, yet I had avoided “disease” up until now and I thought I still had some time to limp about in the pastures of moderately good health.

Having older parents (I mean, older than average) means that in recent years I’ve watched them get diseases like they’re buy 4, get the 5th one free. Diabetes, parkinsons, rheumatoid arthritis, several kinds of cancer, collect the whole set (note I’m including stepparents here). I have absolutely no desire to get past 60 as they make it look like retirement is just what you’re doing when you’re not at the doctor’s. And here I am, starting early.

Christmas Preparations

It’s December so it’s okay if I have decorations up. I had been storing my Christmas stuff at Dad’s as he doesn’t charge a fee for that but I picked it up last weekend and put up the fake tree yesterday.

7 years ago (holy shit) I had blogged about an interactive Christmas stocking Mom had made. I brought it out yesterday and put it up on my wall, and as you can see from this video the digital music box still works:

I believe this is what Christmas in hell sounds like. I played it for Mom over the phone and she was like, “what is that whining in the background?”

Speaking of Christmas, I’m going to be flying up to Kelowna that day to visit Mumsy. It turns out it’s pretty cheap to fly on Christmas Day itself, and all-in-all my flight is about half the price it was last year. Spending *all* of Christmas Day with Mom seems pointless as I’ve been a bad girl and Santa’s not going to be giving me much. Or the other explanation could be that the Maui vacation I didn’t pay for in October was my Christmas present.

So I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately, to the point of even buying kale today despite having no idea what one does with kale but it’s green and leafy so I get a gold star for participation. I’m seeing a personal trainer and a physiotherapist, who both have told me my body is completely fucked up so go do all these ridiculous looking exercises on your own time. I’ve been doing them in the gym downstairs because if I’m going to look like a moron in public, I might as well limit my exposure by keeping it to the gay Fitness World where nobody notices me anyways.

They tell me I have malfunctioning buttocks. This sounds like a personal failure on the level of failing Grade 1, and requiring the same lack of effort. So most of these exercises involve squeezing my ass even though I don’t really need to in order to do a rep of whatever it is.

I’m also getting intramuscular stimulation from my physio, which has her sticking acupuncture needles in me and then poking around with them for maximum torture before pulling them out. The point is to break down chronic scar tissue, or it’s just an outlet for her sadistic tendencies. Either/or. It’s not too bad, actually, but people had me so nervous about it on Facebook that I took a valium before my first session and then she couldn’t do any points near my armpit because I kept giggling from the tickles. It was better this week, I behaved myself. I’m not sure if it’s doing any good yet, but I haven’t had any muscle spasms in my shoulder since she started, which is a good sign. Yeah, I have several parts wrong with me.

December seems like a bad month to be attempting healthy lifestyle changes. Tim Hortons just brought out their candy cane donuts this week, and working from home means I’m only ever 3 floors away from one of those things. Perhaps I should just give up and start over in January.

Vacations and stuff

So, stuff.

I went to Maui last month. It was good and I want to live there and eat pineapples and ahi poke all day and snorkel with turtles and never wear a sweater again. I came back after two weeks and took a whole week to stop feeling cold in the wet October weather of Vancouver.

That was my first vacation in 5 years. It turns out, surprisingly, that vacations are incredibly relaxing and a good way to mentally recharge your brain, because I found myself being much more efficient (though perhaps just as clueless) at my job after the trip, despite the extreme chill. The thing is, I didn’t actually know that vacations were good for that, since I had so rarely been allowed to take one by various former employers. I now recognize that I’ve really been deprived, though I should also blame myself for not standing up for my rights and/or threatening them with DROP DATABASE.

I have yet to go through my vacation photos, as things have been busy since I got back. I do have my snorkelling photos up (via one of those cheap disposable cameras you can use underwater), including this hentai-esque shot of an octopus on my thigh:

Octopus on my thigh

The lamest part of my trip was probably the sunrise at the Haleakala volcano, because it was full of tourists who were taking pictures of the sunrise WITH FLASH. Seriously, wtf people, learn to use your cameras already. Did they think they were going to make the sun come out faster by tempting it with light pellets?

In more recent news, I web-diagnosed myself with hypothyroidism and I turned out to be right. I find that hilarious, given I’ve web-diagnosed myself with pretty much everything but testicular cancer at one point or another. Plus people I’d spoken to about my recent weight gain (7 lbs or so in the last half year) were hinting that I was getting older and my metabolism was slowing down and I should just give up and start wearing mom jeans. I’d go up to them and say “nya nya” but I am too old for that sort of thing. Note it’s my 34th birthday in 29 days.

It snowed tonight. Does this mean I can start listening to Christmas music now?

Being extra Canadian

I can’t be bothered to check if I’ve said this about my current job, but it’s remote. I have a cubicle all to myself in one of the Bentall towers, but my condo has better views and the commute is 20 minutes faster. Plus I don’t work with anyone at the Vancouver office. Heck, I don’t work with anybody in Canada.

Given my location, my work hours overlap with coworkers in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It is quite cool to get to know people of other cultures and learning wtf this means and why it’s funny. But one thing I realized once I’d been there a few months is how uber-Canadian I’d become. As the sole representative of Our Home and Native Land, I’ve spoken way more about poutine and hockey (and marijuana, though that’s more about Vancouver and how I can usually smell it wafting from a neighbour’s balcony) than I normally would.

They used to laugh at me when I ended sentences (in the work irc chatroom) with “eh”. It’s not funny, it’s how I talk! But it has been interesting and fun to get to talk about Canada and how we’re different from other countries and how we are the same. Though I think I may have accidentally convinced a good number of people that we’re all about beer and donuts and hockey riots.

Happy Canada Day, fellow citizens.

“Brain Poison”

This afternoon I found myself ruminating over a comment on Kimli’s blog. The post wasn’t really about anything, but the comments section turned into a discussion around this man’s statement, which began as such:

I don’t have a TV in the house and never have. I don’t have a gaming console in the house and never will. We have no processed sugar of any description, no junk food, few plastics, no trash toys. Our vacations are bike tours and backpacking trips, rather than Disneyland and roadside food.

The first thing I did, actually, was email the full quote to my mom and thank her for not bringing me up that way. Gotta show appreciation, you know.

The commenter himself actually sounds like a nice person who just happens to have a parenting style which involves spitting on pop culture, as is his wont. I haven’t dealt with parents like that all that often, but what I have dealt with are some of the results of that sort of parenting. I have dated those results, even.

I am better than you because I don’t have a TV.

I’ve heard that one often. I’m sure some of you have, too. Maybe some of you actually believe this yourselves. Frankly, I’d find other ways to measure people than by the contents of their living rooms; from the limited sample size of my experience, not having a TV doesn’t make a person more interesting or cultured than anyone else. In fact, saying that statement out loud makes you a douche.

You have a cat? I’ve never had a pet. You should feel lucky, I said I’d never date a girl with a cat.

I’ve heard variations of that one a couple times. It was so relieved to hear this, having had no idea up until that point that I should feel ashamed for being a pet owner. Their gracious condescension in debasing themselves to be with me is so selfless. Please excuse me while I go off my cat in order to be worthy of them.

Sometimes when I’ve met the parents of people who have said such shit to me, they have bragged about how they brought up the child: with only classical music playing in the house, sent to private schools, given private lessons and memberships into exclusive clubs, etc. Plus anything having to do with the child being kept away from the average, the public, the mainstream. Their kid (well, adult at this point) is so amazing because of this upbringing that I’m supposed to be in awe of their superiority. Oh, the parents say, you’re doing well yourself? You’re in a successful career? That must be so great for you, given how you were brought up so ordinarily. Keep breaking down those walls, young lady! Don’t ever let your upper-middle-class childhood hold you back!

What worries me about people who think like this is that they’re narcissists. And/or they’ve brought up narcissists. Who believe they are great because of X and other people are not great because of Y and every person in the world is judged and categorized by these rules that were drilled into them in childhood. You as an individual doesn’t matter; it’s what you look like on the surface. You watch TV, so you must be a dull slob. You have a cat? I feel so sorry for you! Such people make friends based on these categorizations because they need actors to play the parts of their friends in the movie of their life. I’ve seen people only make friends with “losers” in order to make themselves look good in comparison. Or they want their wife or girlfriend to dress a certain way because in their heads it symbolizes and reinforces their ego.

When I was younger, I was enthralled by narcissists. Plagued with low self-esteem, I envied and aspired to be like the people who just seemed to exude confidence and be so absolutely sure of everything they did and every judgment they made. I actually felt bad for not living up to their standards (damn cat, why must be you be so cute?) and it was the biggest relief when I got over it and saw them for the jerks they are. So I worry when I hear parents boasting about how they’re bringing their child up to be extraordinary and away from the petty masses who would only bring them down with their “brain poison”. Here’s hoping the kids come to their senses.

(Hats off to The Last Psychiatrist for explaining this. Highly recommended reading.)

And now in computer animation format

While this Taiwanese animation of the riots on Wednesday night is kind of hilarious, someone needs to tell them we’re not all blondes.

Downtown living

So, last night was the riot. 1994 all over again, except with lots more people and smartphones. Both times I was watching from the sidelines (then, on the street; now, from my balcony) but this time it was in my own backyard.

I caught a cold on Tuesday so I stayed home last night. I didn’t even see much of the game because I was in and out of sleep. Then I started getting text messages from friends asking if I was safe, so I looked outside.

Smoke from riots

There were several helicopters circling downtown into the early hours of the morning, shining spotlights on the streets and buildings. Later on I saw riot police on my street. Regular police too, shepherding people out of downtown. Sometime in the night somebody smashed in one of the windows to the Tim Horton’s downstairs.

At some point a neighbour on a balcony outside said something about tear gas, so I quickly shut all my windows. I’m not sure if we got the dilute remnants of tear gas or something less potent, but what little I got stung my eyes.

Some friends who live around here couldn’t get home last night. They said the bridges were blocked. So I was lucky I had never left my condo.

Now people are saying how Vancouver sucks and is full of thugs and doesn’t deserve a hockey team, etc. etc. As if it has anything to do with hockey; people don’t show up to outdoor events with bags of stones, lighting fluid and rags just to watch a sports game. It was planned, and we know it was planned. Some people need to find better hobbies. But don’t judge Vancouver on the actions of a small group of criminals; we’re what, 2 million people in the greater area? 3 million? Those rioters’ actions were severe, but their sample size makes them insignificant.

I’m going to end this by quoting my forever lesbian crush Kimli, whose post today inspired me to write this one:

Real Vancouverites are proud of the Canucks, regardless of last night’s game. Real Vancouverites cheered on their team, congratulated Boston for their win, and went home. They’re outside right now, helping the city clean up yesterday’s mess. They’re identifying people caught on film so the police can track down and punish. Last night was NOT an example of Vancouver – what you see in the hours, days, weeks to come will be the true display of what our city can do.

Amen.