Dice Shaming

Bad dice! Photo: Rory Bristol, Sketch: ZW

Yesterday was an okay day. I worked, I went to therapy, I played Dungeons and Dragons. Work was okay. Therapy was….therapeutic. Dungeons and Dragons? It was fabulous. Our kids are still figuring it out, but we’re having a blast.

After we methodically gathered sick sorta-zombie-ish people and put them to bed, we interviewed one. He told us about a witch! Naturally, this ended with us ransacking her house, stealing flowers from her garden, and stealing potions. The labels on the potions were great. “Throw at front door Donkus” has to be my favorite, though.

Oh, and my kids have matching wedding rings that are magical in some adorable way. Great times.

My daughter and I decided to do some D&D shenanigans, and rolled matching natural 1s. Now, a natural one is where your die reads “1”. You generally get no bonuses in such a situation, so it doesn’t matter if you are the Grand Hooplah of Acrobatics, a natural 1 means certain failure. We rolled two of the bastards. In the same action. We were super scared, but the DM was merciful. We didn’t die, or break anything. We just failed with flair. Fair enough.

Tonight, these dice sit on the porch to contemplate their foul deeds. Maybe if they’re nice, we’ll use them again (with great trepidation).

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I Cooked a Fucking Steak

MEAT

Image: Rory Bristol

Sunday, we went to the store. Jenny got me to go by agreeing that I could have donuts, which is often the only way to get my out of the house. Just kidding. I mean, I did get donuts, shame on me. But I do leave the house for other things. Sometimes. God Dammit. What was I going to talk about?

Oh, yeah, thanks, helpful title!

We found a really nice sale at our local butcher’s, and ended up getting many, many pounds of steak. Most of it was promptly frozen, to stave off crazy meat prices in the winter, but I got to have steak for dinner, and it was awesome.

Of course, I don’t have anything resembling a grill anymore. My camp stove was re-homed after its 2-years-in-the-closet anniversary. So I turned to the wonderful world of the Internet. I was gonna google “How do I cook a fucking steak?” And NO FUCKING SHIT, DUDES, MY WIFE SENT ME TO THIS:

Screenshot of TheAwl.com

Screenshot of TheAwl.com

Some wonderful, perverse person, named Alex, wrote the most profane description of cooking a steak, and it was exactly what I needed. You can find it on TheAwl.com. I had to try it. I followed the directions exactly, even avoiding “garlic or onion powder or COMPOUND FUCKING BUTTER, asshole” just like I was told. Good boy, Rory. Good boy.

If I ever need to be taken down a peg, I can be, thanks to the aggressive and derogatory narrative. I actually stuck my tongue out at the screen all “So there, ha” at a fucking recipe, because God, I’m weird. It also felt really good. Like, I-suddenly-feel-less-anxious good.

I followed his extremely simple plan, and made some amazing-ass steak. Jenny didn’t think it was as “amazing-ass” as I did, but she’s allowed to be wrong sometimes. Today, I’m avoiding making more, and not-so-secretly hoping that the leftover 6 oz. steak in the fridge might be claimed by yours truly.

Go cook a fucking steak. Then tell me about it, ’cause I wanna know!

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We Will Miss You, Oliver Sacks

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Image: Rory Bristol

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Image: Rory Bristol

Oliver Sacks, the voice changer of a century, passed away yesterday. Well known for his works in The New York Times and his own clinical writings, Sacks was a needed voice in the world’s growth regarding neurologically atypical individuals. His work covered everything from Visual Agnosia (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, 1985) to hallucinations (Hallucinations, 2012).

At the impressionable age of six years old, Mr. Sacks was sent away from his home, during The Blitz. Instead of finding the solace he and his brother needed, they instead found themselves at the mercy of a cruel Headmaster at the school, and lived on a meager amount of food (mostly beets) for the duration of his stay there. I know, as well as anyone might, the scars a child can earn from the cruelty of the adults intended to care for them. Not one child on the Earth deserves to be the victim of abuse of any kind. But that wasn’t the sum of his life.

Mr. Sacks followed his parents’ footprints and became a doctor. He left England behind and moved to the States. After converting his credentials to American standards (such as an MD), he began teaching. He taught for an astonishing forty-one (41) years at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. For the last fifteen years of that (1992-2007), he also taught at the New York University School of Medicine.

"9.13.09OliverSacksByLuigiNovi" by Luigi Novi. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:9.13.09OliverSacksByLuigiNovi.jpg#/media/File:9.13.09OliverSacksByLuigiNovi.jpg

“9.13.09OliverSacksByLuigiNovi” by Luigi Novi. Licensed under CC BY 3.0

His work in education alone blows my mind, but he didn’t stop there. He worked in clinics with patients suffering an enormous range of disorders. He had his own patients, and he wrote many papers and books discussing the cases, which provided a library of references for physicians to consult. Twelve books and countless case studies are the legacy of a man who couldn’t stop talking about cool shit everyone was afraid to talk about. At 79 years old, he was still pushing his writing out into the world, while he tackled the still-heavily-stigmatized phenomenon of hallucinations.

There are accolades and criticisms regarding Oliver Sacks all over the Internet. Many people feel very strongly about his (sometimes controversial) work. But for many of us, he made us feel normal. Reading his work is like getting a hot mug of, “Yeah, you crazy, but that’s cool. Everybody is.”

I wish I could say I’d read all of his works, but hey, I’m a disorganized person. I get too caught up in crazy writing on the Internet, and lose track of the books. That’s okay. He might have died, but his work remains. I think I’ll be visiting some old friends at the local library today.

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Why Just the ‘Tip’?

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

I got an odd email recently, asking why I have just heads on my memes. The answer is easy. My people look like penises. Always. I try really hard for that to not happen, but it just does. It has become so comical that I don’t even consider drawing people any more, because, well, cocks don’t lend themselves to a lot of memes. Well, maybe they do, but that’s an experiment for another day.

In any case, I went to see Dav Pilkey give an amazing presentation in Phoenix yesterday, and the two cute little penises you see above were the result of the inspiration Dav left me with. It didn’t improve. Bonus? I got to have my picture taken with Captain Underpants!

Image: Jenny Bristol

Image: Jenny Bristol

Double bonus? I got to wear one of the capes they were giving the kids, and I was all like, fuck the kids, I wanna be awesome, too! Triple bonus? Captain Underpants has the ability to make me look >thismuch< less fat!

In any case, Dav Pilkey was fabulous, and I got to see videos of him trying to draw while monkeys stole his pen, and I thought, “I need that kind of excuse, guys!” Turns out, he lives on a beach somewhere secret, and has a cave to hide from the monkeys in, and he still chooses to get distracted by monkeys. Good excuse bro. Good excuse. If you haven’t checked out his stuff, DO SO. Underwear is funny, and juvenile humor heals the soul, I swear to God.

I left his show all jazzed. “His characters are so simple!” He started drawing them in grade school, and they look mostly the same, still. “I can do this!” I totally can’t. I drew a few penis people, put my sad face on, screenshotted the bastards, and called it off.

TL;DR: I draw heads because they don’t look like penises, and I pray to God that people like my memes because I do more than leave my dick on the table. Er, screen. I meant screen. I’m going to go to work now…

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I Didn’t Tell

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

My memory is getting worse, but I’m not sure what to do for that. More talks with my doctors, therapist, and Jenny. More adjustments. Possibly more meds, possibly fewer meds. It’s inconvenient, but it’s helping me get into some great habits.

Cons:

  • Jenny has to remind me of stuff. All day long. It’s frustrating for her.
  • I have a harder time getting everything done, because I won’t remember it in 15 minutes.
  • I regularly walk into another room and forget why I’m there. Like, eight or nine times per day.
  • I make minor commitments and lose track of them.
  • All this makes me fucking insane and sad.
  • I forget to take my medicine.

Pros:

  • I’ve developed better habits regarding checking behind myself to make sure I took my medicine or that something is done right.
  • I’m learning to make lists, leave myself notes, and communicate more clearly.
  • People know I really mean it when I compliment a dress or shirt, because I’ll have commented in the past.
  • It’s easier to sit down and commit to the work I’m doing, because my to-do list isn’t hovering anxiously in the front of my head.
  • It’s easy as hell to keep secrets and be discreet, because I forget the thing I’m supposed to not talk about.
  • I make a great confidant, because I can genuinely listen without judging that person by the conversation later.

It’s both good and bad. It’s inconvenient, and it’s a case of changing my life to address side effects of medication, but I think it’s worth it. It’s worth it to have reduced anxiety. It’s worth it to have more structure. It’s worth it because I am surrounded by people who understand.

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Feed Me

Well, shit.

Well, shit.

Food. It’s what’s for dinner. Sadly, sometimes I fuck it up. Last night, I went to cook one of my Grannie’s dishes, and I did okay, I think. Until I started the potatoes. As you can see above, it didn’t go so well. My chemistry Kung-Fu just didn’t cut it.

The potatoes were dead, Jim. I called the skillet off as a bad job, and microwaved them. I literally just shivered. I hate microwaving food! The food was edible, but not as flavorful as it should have been, because all the flavored goodness was cooked onto the pan, and I had to finish dinner so my family could have food.

I helped my Dad move some more stuff today. He’s moving down the street, and I’m thrilled to have him close by, especially with his next surgery on the horizon!

Sorry for a short post, but see? I’m a human. I can burn food, and still have an okay night!

(I’ll take a moment to say THANKS to my doctor who’s been working with me on my anxiety symptoms!)

Small victories, dudes.

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My Dad, My Father

 

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

I throw a couple of words around a lot on this blog. My Father, and my Dad. They are two different people. Two very different people. My Father and I shared a name until after his death several years ago. My Dad, however, is a dear man whom I have known for over a decade now. They also have very different roles in my life.

My father was a kind dude. A little odd, a little too loose with the law, and terrifyingly racist, but a kind man. I didn’t know him as well as I’d like, but I did have a relationship with him. He died just over four years ago, and his funeral was a wake-up call for me.

I went to honor a man I’d called Daddy all my life. Up to that point, I thought I’d had enough of a relationship with him. When I spoke, though, I didn’t have a lot of stories to tell. I have gallons of memories of sitting with him, fishing, talking, working, so many memories that fill my heart with love, but aren’t easily shared. As I listened to his friends speak, though, I learned that my father was a deeper man than I’d ever known.

I learned that he’d once broken the jaw of a large dog, while rescuing a little girl from it. I learned that he’d kept his childhood friends for his entire life. I learned that he was gracious, and didn’t leave a favor un-returned. I learned that he’d struggled with mental illness his entire life. I learned that the responsibility of his eight children weighed heavily on him. I learned that the last thing he did before he killed himself was to go to his mother’s bedroom, and tell her he loved her.

I learned that I wanted more. I wanted my Daddy to come back and tell me more about his life. I wanted to tell him we loved him, even though we lived so far away. It wasn’t his fault our mother moved hundreds of miles away. I loved him, dammit.

Six years before my father died, I met a man on a writer’s forum. His screen name was something boring like Andy67, or whatever. (I’ll call him Andy here. Why not?) He and I became good friends over the years. A few months before my father died, Andy’s mother died. It hit him really hard.

We already talked every day by then. We already checked in with each other. But after Andy’s mother died, he was more alone in the world. He has credited me with being there for him when he needed it most. I’m honored that he thought me worthy at the time. I was able to be there for him as he recovered, and learned to accept his grief.

Then I got the worst call of my life. My Grandma called me to tell my that my father had died. I didn’t have much of a support network at the time. My then-boyfriend was at a loss as to what to do, but I figured I’d handle it alone. It was one of the hardest weekends of my life. Thankfully, my many brothers and my sister were there for me, and I was there for them. We mucked through it.

When I flew home, I got some bad news. My boyfriend’s dad had cancer. A week later, his mother was in a car accident, and a few weeks after that, she fainted at the bank and was hospitalized. It was a crazy summer. By my birthday in August, I needed a break. I went on a weekend vacation with my brother and some friends to just chill.

A week after that, I found out that our bills hadn’t been paid in months. I had faithfully given my boyfriend’s mother the rent and utilities, and she hadn’t paid the bills all summer. My relationship with my boyfriend had been suffering for most of the year. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I left.

I moved to Arizona, with the help of Zooey, the magical friend of mine who provided a plane ticket when I couldn’t get one. I moved over a thousand miles away. I moved in with Andy. I got a job, started college again, and found the best friend I’d known to that point.

Over time, several people told me I looked like Andy. We’d jokingly introduce ourselves as “Dad” or “son”. It stuck. At some point, I told him that I did feel like he was a “dad” to me. We discussed it. Then we took a break. Then we discussed it again. It just felt right. I started calling him my dad all the time, and we care for each other very much.

Now, my Dad will never be my Father. He’ll never be “Daddy.” He can’t go back and fill the gaps, and he can’t make me miss my Father any less. It still hurts when I think about him. But it is nice to have a friend like Andy. Someone who cared enough to take me in when I was down. Someone who has cried on my shoulder, too.

I can’t go back and do nice things for my Father. It’s too late. I still have a strained relationship with my mother. We’re working on that. But I can do something nice for my dad. I can make his life better, just because.

Just because. If you need a reason bigger than that to do something nice for your parents (or kids), then take a hard look and see if you can reach out, or accept the reach from them. It might be worth it. Your call.

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