As Junkill previously announced, we have revived the Everything2 Podcast. Season 4, Episode 1 - the Halloween 2008 edition - is now online! It's a bit late because I wasn't happy with my recording, and I didn't want to have to start this off with 'my own rendition of RalphyK's wonderful When Frogs go Bad is an obvious low point of the collection, but...' - which may still be true, but hopefully you can at least make out what I'm saying now.

I thought Junkill did a fantastic job of presenting and producing, and reading SyntaxVorlon's Where is your god now?. The Custodian's rendering of footprints' appalling, hilarious The Raven (The Edgar Allan Porn version) is also near perfect.

I've been working on on-site software support for audio recordings, and you can now download the new podcast and the entire first season directly from the E2 Podcast page. The intervening two seasons will follow, as will support for individual writeup recordings; most of the work on the latter is already done, but there are still a few details to tie up. Also still to come is an actual RSS feed to make this technically a podcast, and the plan in the medium-to-long-term is to use E2's servers for hosting, rather than relying on The Custodian's server.

One recording unfortunately had to be left out because permission to use it was denied - which shows both the importance and the down side of making sure we get permission for these things, I suppose. This podcast is a little shorter than some as a result, but it's still a perfectly respectable 19 minutes long.

Once again, membership of podpeople is essentially open to anyone, and naturally we're looking for people to record things for next time. We already have one or two things already lined up for inclusion and promises of more to come, so it may be on its way to you quite soon.

For now, I hope you enjoy the new edition as much as I did!

I was watching a show the other night on the History Channel. It was about art crimes, those who commit them, and those who prosecute them. There was a piece about the theft, and subsequent recovery, of some stolen paintings, one of the original copies of the Constitution, and one about a Peruvian back plate, a three pound piece of worked gold designed to protect an ancient warrior-priest’s backside in battle.

They were all interesting, the Peruvian perhaps more so than the rest, but I’m not writing about the “art crime” part now. Instead, I’m writing about a little vignette at the end of the Peruvian piece describing some of the terrible things that happened to the guys who stole, transported, and sold the back plate. Kind of like King Tut’s Curse, South American-style.

One of the stories was about one of the U.S. brokers who was actually trying to sell the back plate after it was smuggled into America. It seems that after this whole thing went down, he and his wife had a baby boy. The child was born prematurely. Too prematurely to survive, it turns out. He lasted 44 days, and at the end, the intensive care nurse let the man hold his infant son for the last few minutes of his life.

I cried when I saw it the other night, and I’m shedding a tear or two right now, just putting “pen” to “paper” talking about it. And it’s not because I’m soft on criminals, and it’s not because every infant death affects me this way.

It’s because when my son was born, he was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for almost three weeks. My wife was on painkillers for a back injury when she was pregnant, you see, only she didn’t know she was pregnant until my son was six months along. By then, it was too late to stop the medication. My wife tapered off, but she couldn’t stop, because if my son had gone into withdrawal or seizures in utero, we would have lost him.

So my son was born addicted. My wife and I got to hold our son for about three days after he was born. After that, his symptoms and suffering were too severe, and he had to go to NICU. His tapering process went beautifully, all according to a three-week schedule. And my wife and I sat by his bed the entire three weeks. I left to go to work, but that was about it. I slept at the hospital, went to work, then came right back.

And during that entire time, we couldn’t hold our son. Not the way we wanted to. He had all kinds of wires and cables attached to him, so that we had to slide our way around all of them just to pick him up and tell him that we loved him.

Don’t get me wrong. I am extraordinarily grateful for the time my son stayed in NICU. It saved his life, and he is happy and healthy now. I saw five other children die in NICU, premature infants born without a chance, beyond the efforts of the heroic medical personnel who rushed to the bedside of even the most hopeless case. Infants like son of the art dealer I saw on the History Channel.

I probably wouldn’t have noticed that part of the show, except for the fact that I’ve gone through it myself, and I know how important it is just to hold your child. So my son’s and my three weeks of hell in NICU were good for something.

And when people ask me if I’m bitter about all the things I’ve lost in my life, all the pain I’ve caused, all the pain I've gone through, all the heartaches, I can honestly tell them no. No, because without them, I wouldn’t be able to open my heart the way I can today.

What does coping with grace look like?

My dear,

OK, this is really hard. I'm already tired and sick of this treatment, and it's barely begun. Yesterday one of the imps's friends had a gymnastics meet here in Davis, and I really, really wanted to go - and I didn't get out of bed. She qualified for state competition, and I MISSED it. Waves of nausea keeping me home. I don't really mind when something hurts, unless it hurts a LOT, but I fricking HATE being nauseous - and chemo is really all about nausea. Already have mouth sores. Nothing tastes good. Nasty metallic taste in my mouth. Feel like hurling all the time. It SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS.

I'm going to say this once, and then hopefully not say it again I'm really, really scared and angry. I'm told that the average survival for someone with this beastly disease at this stage is 2 to 3 years - 50 percent die within that time. Fuck average. Average sucks too, at this point.

I can't believe how unfair it feels. I know that I'm otherwise in good health, and will probably beat those statistics, and blah blah blah, but it creeps up on me in the middle of the night. My daughter is TEN for goodness' sake. I want to see her graduate from high school! From college! Thirteen! How can I croak on her when she's THIRTEEN? And it could be chemo or other treatment ALL the rest of the time. No break for me, no break for her, no break for wertperch. Just chronic disease, horrible, debilitating treatments, and misery.

I can retire at 55. 10 years, 11 years - how has it come to me praying that I get 10 more years? Do you have any idea how many things there are that I still want to DO? I'm already dragging myself around like an old rag bag - my body hurts from having the port-a-cath put in last week, and still bloody sick from the chemo. I have two new scars on my left breast, and that's the only tit I have left. I burst into tears on Kevin yesterday, because I feel so ugly and sliced up, and how could he possibly feel any attraction to me? I feel like a car that's ready for the junkyard. Yup, right bumper's gone, upholstery is worn out, sound like she's blown a head gasket - you should probably consider her totalled - it'd cost too much to fix her up, at this point.

I still have hope, but it's feeling like a long, hard road, with no guarantees that I ever get to feel good again. Cancer as a chronic disease is still an ugly proposition. Oral chemo - for the duration. Clinical trials. Monoclonal antibodies. Bone marrow transplants. It's not like diabetes, where if I manage it properly I can live my normal life span. I can go ahead and do every single thing RIGHT, and it's still all a gamble. It may make exactly NO difference, chemo may just make me miserable all the time I have left.

I apologize for this, people. There's really no reply, I just needed to get it out of my system. I'm trying to put on a fairly brave face for the imp, and even for wertperch, who is taking all of this pretty hard. I needed to have a place where some of the more painful stuff can leak out of the cracks. You don't have to do anything about it, just listen. (Read?)

In a way, I feel like I'm the Queen of Lies with the "brave face" I'm putting on. I want to cope with some sort of grace, and I feel like I'm missing the mark somehow.

What does coping with grace look like?

so he tells me his dad
is a royal asshole right
he cheats on Mom with some skank
who never made it past the ninth grade
some blonde bitch who isn't even attractive
you know the type
orange skin and smiles spilling all over the place
like vomit on a windshield

anyways he fucks her once or twice a week
and then comes back home reeking of her
all smeared with her cheap lightblue eyeshadow
on his tragicdrunk greasy skin
and pretends to have been working
he's always yelling beginning-of-the-month-too-busy
like they don't fucking know

so he says to me
he'll kill him
and her if he feels like it
someday, soon, tomorrow, tonight
with a knife or a gun or his bare hands
if he's high enough

and i go
see, at least you know
you can say: that is the jerk who made me
this is the asshole who would make my breakfast
and then scoop up some cereal from my bowl with his dingy hands
this is the fuck-up who once dropped me on the head
while playing Airplane or something
this is the doofus who told me i would look cool
in a hawaiian shirt under a vest for that party

and yeah you know
you're lucky.
you got cereal
& Airplane
& hawaiian shirts

you'd be surprised at how big
unfilled fuck-up spaces
can get in your heart

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