Sunlit Water

September 29, 2007

Hell Of A Time For It

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 11:14 am

Today is my twenty-third birthday.  It’s not a very happy one, although I can take comfort in the fact that I know I’m exactly where I need to be right now.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who commented in the previous thread for their support and good wishes.


September 27, 2007

Just Like That

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 9:29 pm

My father died today.  I’ll have more to say about it later, but I’ll probably be away from the blog for a while.

September 26, 2007

It Begins

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 8:31 pm

When I saw my dad on Saturday, he was doing pretty well, or at least not noticeably worse than he had been for a while.  He went to services with us and while he was a bit tired during them, he wasn’t exceptionally weak considering his condition.  He fasted, which surprised us a bit, especially since he said he hadn’t intended to, but that he didn’t happen to eat anything Friday night and decided to just not eat anything on Saturday either (he did drink water).  In retrospect, this should have been a bit more troubling than it was at the time.

I left Saturday evening after the break-fast, and after that he apparently went downhill in a hurry.  Saturday night he was very short of breath, when he had previously only been short of breath after some sort of exertion, and his hands and feet began to swell.  Over the next couple days he got worse, and when my mom took him to the doctor he was diagnosed with pneumonia and put on oxygen and intravenous antibiotics.His cousins bought him a recliner today, and I left work early and went over there to help pick it up and bring it in.  One of the major problems was that he didn’t have a comfortable place to sit with his head and feet elevated, since we only had a computer chair, a couch, and a bed, none of which was comfortable for him, so the recliner should help a lot in terms of his physical comfort.  As far as anyone outside the immediate family knows the pneumonia is the problem and it will get better.

What they don’t know is that the cancer has spread to his lungs.  This actually started a while ago, but on his latest CT scan it was much worse than before.  My mom talked to the oncologist privately today, and he told her that while he does indeed have pneumonia, he suspects most of the recent decline is due to the cancer.  The antibiotics should take care of the pneumonia soon, so I guess we’ll know then just how much is due to each.

He looks much worse than he did on Saturday.  It’s kind of hard to believe his condition could have changed so dramatically in such a short time.  He now mostly just sits in the recliner and watches TV with the oxygen mask on; he can walk around, but he’s too weak to do anything that requires much effort.  He can’t really be left alone for long periods of time, so someone needs to be with him more or less full-time.  It’s hard to avoid the feeling that the end is near.

My mom has decided to start taking Family Medical Leave on Monday.  She wants to go in tomorrow and Friday to tie up some loose ends, so I’m going to be taking of work those two days and staying with him.  My employers understand and have been quite supportive.

It looks like we’ve finally reached the point where things start to get very difficult.  I’m sure we’ll pull through, but it’s going to be tough for a while.

September 22, 2007

Tesuque D’Zimra

Filed under: Culture,Personal — by teofilo @ 2:52 pm

I usually hate this time of year, because it’s the only time when I really feel obligated to involve myself in Judaism to the extent of actually going to services, which I’ve found increasingly unpleasant lately (plus, you know, fasting).  This year, however, hasn’t been so bad.  I’ve been going with my parents, and while my mom and I went to our old synagogue for Erev Rosh Hashanah, the rest of the services we’ve gone to the Chavurah, which has services at the beautiful UNM Alumni Chapel.  My parents have for years been drifting toward the Chavurah and away from the synagogue, which is hemorrhaging members and becoming more and more a small, elderly congregation with a decidedly uninspiring rabbi.

The Chavurah, of course, has no rabbi at all, and the communal atmosphere with ordinary members performing all the services is quite nice.  It reminds me of the things I liked about Hillel when I was in school and went to their services.  It’s a little awkward because the atmosphere is just as clubby as at any synagogue, with a lot of members who have known each other for years, and the general informality makes those dynamics more obvious.  We do know a few people there, though, so it isn’t too bad.

The services have been very nice, especially last night and today.  I really liked the sermons in particular; the one last night was about how Judaism provides a good framework for an impersonal theology given the ineffable name of God and the tradition of wrestling with theological issues, and the one today was about how the only true faith in God is that which does not depend on him doing anything for us, with particular reference to how the Akedah is the story of Abraham moving from conditional to unconditional faith.  The two sermons went together well, as if they were two different ways of expressing the same basic message, and that message is the one that I find the most appealing way to reconcile the obligation of religious practice with the absurdity of traditional theism.

In some ways, I think a small and isolated Jewish community can be more resolute in its commitment to maintaining Judaism than a large, diffuse Jewish community in a big city.  There’s a feeling here not just of the need to preserve our traditions in a hostile world (which is a major part of Judaism everywhere, even when it is not at all threatened, and can lead to some quite unpleasant perspectives), but also of the importance of dealing with other people and coming to an understanding with the wider world.  Here we couldn’t segregate ourselves from the Gentile community even if we wanted to, so we have to decide what it is about Judaism that is most important and worthy of going to great lengths to preserve, and what is less important and can be compromised when necessary.  The balance we arrive at is, I think, pretty good most of the time.

This is part of why I’m skeptical about Zionism, by the way.  I’m not convinced that it’s a good idea to concentrate the world’s Jewish community in one small area where Jews run everything and need only interact with other Jews, even if that area were totally safe and secure.  There’s a tendency toward xenophobia in the Jewish psyche, and it’s especially pronounced right now in the major Jewish institutions.  This is one of the things that I think is less important, indeed largely harmful, about Judaism, and I’m quite happy to get rid of it to preserve the more important things.

September 18, 2007

But Enough About Me

Filed under: Blogs — by teofilo @ 8:24 pm

How are you doing?

September 16, 2007

Second Thoughts

Filed under: Job Search,Personal — by teofilo @ 7:36 pm

I went on a Sierra Club hike this morning with my mom and sister.  It was  a lot of fun, but damn, the Sierra Club is one geriatric organization.  My sister and I must have lowered the average age of the group by at least a decade, maybe two.  Even our mom was younger than most of the people there.

On the drive up, my mom and I got to talking about my life and my plans for the future.  Shockingly, she’s concerned about me.  I’m not very happy here, and that tends to come out most obviously when I’m around her, so she seems to have this idea that I’m miserable and need serious help to fix my broken life.  While that may still be true, I don’t think things are quite as bad as she was thinking, and I explained that to her with a certain amount of apparent success.

As for my plans for the future, she’s finally come around to realizing that academia is not a good plan (success!), but seems to have mostly shifted her focus to trying to get me to go to law school, despite my objections.  Her main argument is that lawyers do all sorts of things, not just the litigation-related stuff that I see at my job, and so there’s a good chance that I could find something I liked if I just gave law school a chance.  My counterargument that I have yet to see anything lawyers do that sounds like something I would like to do doesn’t seem to convince her.  Up until today I’ve just been saying I’ll consider law school without making any promises.  The main alternative I’ve suggested is a Master’s in Urban Planning, which she seems okay with as well (though a little skeptical about the limited earning potential and confused about where my interest in this field would have come from).

Today, however, she started talking about how I would surely hate still being here next August, so I should start taking a close look at deadlines, and I realized that she wants me to actually apply to schools now for next fall.  That means I kind of need to decide how much I really want to do that, which means I need to learn more about law school, fast.  (I’ve already done a lot of research on urban planning, so that’s not as crucial right now.)

Which leads me to my questions to the lawyers out there: What, exactly, are the possibilities other than big firm work for a lawyer, and how should one best prepare for them, starting with choosing law schools to apply to?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

September 12, 2007


Filed under: Culture — by teofilo @ 11:05 pm

Happy new year, everyone.

September 10, 2007

So Much For That

Filed under: Job Search,Personal — by teofilo @ 4:10 pm

It seems all my worrying was for nothing; I didn’t get the job.

September 8, 2007

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Filed under: Job Search,Personal — by teofilo @ 9:54 am

Speaking of making decisions, I’m terrible at it.  My usual process is to freak out and obsess about the options for a while, then choose the one that seems like the best choice on the merits but think wistfully afterward about what would have happened if I had chosen differently.  This isn’t such a big deal with expected decisions, but I really have trouble handling unexpected change.  I have a tendency to make elaborate plans, and when something comes along that casts doubt on them I get very upset.

This is not entirely an abstract issue at the moment.  On Thursday I got an e-mail telling me about a possible job opportunity in another city, available immediately, and asking if I wanted to be considered for it.  It’s not a sure thing, so I figure I’ll probably go ahead and apply for it, but if I get the job (and there’s a very good chance I will) I’ll have to decide whether to take it.  I honestly don’t know what I would prefer.  There are several issues involved:

  1. The job itself would be pretty much the same as my job right now, but in a different field and location.  This means, among other things, that I probably have an excellent shot at getting the job, since I have relevant experience as well as the other desired qualities.  I like my job now, so I wouldn’t mind doing the same thing for a while longer, and the field and location are much more desirable to me than my current field and location.
  2. On the other hand, though, it does kind of feel like too soon.  I’ve made some commitments here in the next couple months that I could break, but not without some trouble.  For one thing, I just signed a six-month lease on an apartment, and breaking it would be possible but expensive.  There are also some other, smaller things I’ve said I would do for other people that I could get out of, but not without feeling I’d let them down.  In addition, I know my current employers would prefer I stay for at least a little while longer than this, and I while I know it wouldn’t be a huge deal if I left I’d feel kind of bad about abandoning them.
  3. Nevertheless, I would like to leave at some point.  If this had come up a couple months from now, I would feel a lot less conflicted about it.  I’m not very happy here, and my recent move has not yet changed that as much as I’d like.  I still want to give it a chance, since I am living in a more interesting area, but it’s entirely possible that the rest of my stay here will be just as lonely as it has been so far, in which case hanging around for a few more months doesn’t make much sense.
  4. However, and this is a bigger deal than it might seem, here I can afford to live alone.  I’ve always wanted to live alone, and now that I do I am actually liking it a lot.  This new job is in a much more expensive city, and there’s no way I could afford to live alone on the salary provided.  I know moving away will have to involve living with at least one roommate, but I would like to take advantage of my ability to avoid that for as long as I can.  This is part of why I feel like it’s too soon to leave.

Overall, right now I think if the issue does come up I would choose to stay.  I do think I should at least apply, though, if only to get some more experience with the job-seeking process for when I do decide to leave.  This probably wouldn’t be such a struggle for me if it hadn’t come up on Thursday, which was just a really bad day for me all around.  Coming in the midst of that, an opportunity to leave seemed a lot more attractive that it might have otherwise.

Advice on any of this would be greatly appreciated.

September 6, 2007

Four Years Of Film School For This?

Filed under: Culture,Personal,Urban Living — by teofilo @ 9:28 pm

I had kind of a stressful day at work today, so I decided to go see the Simpsons movie afterward.  On my way over to the theater, I was passing by the pizza place I frequent when a one-legged homeless woman asked if I would buy her some pizza.  That’s not the sort of thing I normally do, but I figured, what the hell, it’s not much money and at least she wasn’t just asking for cash like most of the panhandlers I see.  So we went into the pizza place and I bought her some pizza.  Then she said she didn’t want to seem ungrateful but could I give her just a couple of bucks?  I was a little suspicious at that point, but she did seem to be genuinely homeless, and she only had one leg, so I gave her two dollars and left before she could ask for anything more.  I was thus feeling vaguely generous and self-satisfied as I continued on my way to the theater.

I thought the movie was very good, in stark contrast to most of the recent seasons of the TV show.  It really hung together as an organic unit with a coherent plot, in addition to being very funny, neither of which is true of almost any episode of the show in the past five years or so.  I suspect most of the difference is due to how much more time and effort went into the movie than goes into an episode, but I also wonder if the longer running time is more compatible with the style of the writers.  In many ways it was a lot more like the very early episodes, not just heavily plot-driven but containing actual moments of pathos (and slightly grating heavy-handed moralizing), whereas most recent episodes are more character-driven and feel kind of thrown together, like the writers had several ideas for a plot but couldn’t maintain any of them for the length of a whole show so they mashed them all into one.  It seems like the writers, having more space to develop a plot for the movie, could relax and focus more intently on one plot arc rather than hastily sketching out one, then another, then a third, and slapping them together into a mediocre half-hour.  I don’t know how much sense this really makes, though.  Like I said, I think the main difference is that they had more time (and, presumably, money) to work on the movie.

After the movie, I was feeling rather hungry, so I went by the pizza place again.  Outside, I was stopped by a panhandler who asked me for 75 cents, then said what he really wanted was a slice of pizza since he hadn’t eaten in two days.  Ordinarily I definitely wouldn’t have agreed to buy him one, but I was still feeling good about the woman earlier so I said I would.  He seemed a little surprised, for good reason; when I went inside and ordered for both of us, the people there said the guy had $150 on him and I really shouldn’t be buying him anything.  So I didn’t.  After I ordered for myself only, the manager went out and talked to the guy, and he left shortly afterward.

I was feeling a bit foolish and naive at that point.  I don’t ordinarily think of myself as the sort of person to be taken in by scams like that, and I don’t ordinarily give guys like that anything.  Of course, they’re usually asking for change or cigarettes, and I can just (truthfully) answer that I don’t have any on me.  Buying food is what people often say you should do instead of giving them money, and it seems the less scrupulous ones have caught on to this and will ask for food after being rebuffed.  They still come out ahead, after all.

So was the earlier woman also scamming me?  Maybe.  There’s not really any way for me to know.  I do think it’s not that likely, since she asked me for food first and money only later, but I may just be saying that to reassure myself.  Even if she did rip me off, I feel better about giving to her, since whether or not she was really homeless she was definitely missing a leg and hobbling around on crutches, whereas the other guy could well have had no real problems at all.

I’m normally a very suspicious person, and it takes a lot to get me to trust people.  This is the sort of experience that keeps me that way, no matter how much I try to develop ways to let my guard down and trust people.

After I ate my pizza I went back to my apartment and there was a note on the door telling me my rent was late and if I didn’t pay it within three days I would be evicted.  It really just hasn’t been a good day at all.

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