Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Personal Update

Hey all. I just wanted to present a quick update of what's going on. You may find it turns into a rant, but I at least intended to keep it brief.

First off, I've just about completely healed from my surgery. This is good news because I may end up going under the knife again sometime in the near future. The results of my CT scan show several large masses in my pelvis surrounding my lower aorta. This is the primary vein that runs down from the heart, behind the stomach, and then splits off at the pelvis to provide blood to the legs. There aren't any major organs being affected by the masses, but the proximity to this vein is alarming for obvious reasons

The size of these masses suggests they are Choriocarcinoma in the 2nd stage. It's probably the first site the cancer had taken root, the testicular tumor being a secondary growth. They're still treatable at this point and typically respond well to radiation therapy, though I understand there's a high chance of being rendered sterile seeing as the radiation would be aimed directly at my groin. I never really wanted to have children anyway, but it's painful to be taken apart slowly... one piece after another.

I've lost so much of who I used to be to chronic illness over the years that I sometimes feel hollow, as if there's nothing left.

Anyway, I'm waiting for a phone call from a medical oncologist that I'm being referred to. I've been waiting since monday and think I'll be beating down his door sometime tomorrow. With the sheer number of other things I'm having to deal with at the moment I think I may be speaking literally.

Speaking of tomorrow, I have to go see my opthalmologist again in the morning. This is to check the progress of my treatment for my Superior Limbal Keratoconjunctivitis. For those who are not familiar with the term, it is an autoimmune disease in which my body is attempting to heal tissue on the surface of the eye, despite the fact that there's no actual damage. This buildup of aberrant scar tissue causes extreme pain and burning, making it incredibly difficult to even look at this screen for the few moments in which I am typing.

The treatment for this condition is going well, as far as I can tell, though the pain is not lessening in any way. The inflamation and redness has increased considerably over the past week. If the doctor sees no improvement I'll be heading to another specialist. If he does see improvement then I'll be asking for some kind of topical anesthetic so I can get on with my day with some degree of normalcy until the treatment is complete. It often takes up to a year to be fixed entirely.

As far as my work goes, the top secret job I was taking fell through. The company has pulled up stakes overnight and completely abandonned me, taking a full month's worth of my work and stiffing me for the $2,000 dollar bill. This organization is set up in the UK and it took me several days of checking before I was even able to come up with contact information, though no one will answer my letters of phone messages. At this point there's little I can do aside from flying to the UK and beating these dead beats to death with a cricket bat, though the thought had crossed my mind. It would be more tempting if I actually had the money to afford the trip.

What's even enraging is that their last message, which was sent around Christmas, contained a virulent Trojan virus which is called Vunbo11. This virus embeds itself in the windows system files of my computer and then replicates itself. Such system files cannot be manipulated or quarantined in any way, meaning I can't get to it, despite having one of the best virus protection software packages on the market. At the price I paid, their technical support line had better do their job.

This virus also prevents me from using my computer as anything other than a glorified typewriter. It cannot surf the web or be used for research, and the virus replicates itself all the while that the computer is running. To that effect I'm writing this from a different computer and can make no gaurantees regarding whether or not I'll be able to post tomorrow or the day after.

Having posted several stories in the past, I finally decided that some of my work is good enough for print. To that effect I have been submitting several short stories for publication to as many magazines I can find who are willing to pay for the rights to print them. It's taking some time and my chances seem slim to none given how badly the market is affecting small publications like this, but it helps me put out of my mind the fact that I spent the last month working 12 hour days for free.

If I ever find the man or woman who cheated me I will skin him alive, braid a whip from his own hide, tip it with his own shattered teeth, and beat him to death with it. I don't typically make casual threats and apologize if it comes as a shock, but by tricking me and using up my time they refuse me the right to make a living; to keep a roof over my head and food in my stomach. If I didn't live with my family I would be homeless by now. Writing is the one way that I can think of to try to earn a living, and the people who would cheat me might as well be making an attempt on my life. It amounts to the same. To that effect I don't see why action against them wouldn't be justified.

So, unable to work, to edit my rough draft of Sons of Odin, to work on a new Japanese ghost story I'm putting together, or submit my finished work in hopes of making a few extra bucks and bulking up my CV, I decided to take the day off until I could get some help from tech support. I sat down in front of the tv and fired up the old video game system, an XBOX 360 I got for Christmas several years ago. It quite literally fired up. Sparks flew and the smell of burning plastic filled the air.

After hurriedly pulling the plug to prevent fire I called customer service, finally managing to talk to a real flesh and blood human being after about a million automated messages and menus. Apparently this problem is common with XBOX 360s produced in the same batch as mine was, meaning Microsoft strikes again. Thankfully this problem is so common that they don't charge anything for it to be fixed, they even eat the cost of shipping. I used my folks' computer to fill out the forms online and printed up the shipping label to put on my package and took it to the UPS store. I figured I would get it back in two or three weeks, as the customer service rep said.

That would be too easy for someone as terminally cursed as I am. About an hour later a second email arrives. This one contains a full set of instructions on how to place the shipping label, specifying that it shouldn't be put on the inside of the box... Yes folks, it was that kind of customer service message.

It also included a small section explaining what other information should be included on the outside of the box aside from the shipping label. Nowhere on the customer service site or on any of the instructions was this message to be found, meaning I hadn't included said information when I had it shipped, seeing as the message wasn't sent until after I posted the box.

Now I've got to call up UPS in the morning when their service center is open in hopes that my package isn't lost for all freaking eternity.

Ladies and gentleman, it is at this point where I think awards, accolades, and above all, pity, is due. This has got to be the worst day of my life thus far. A term which I learned in my drama class in high school keeps coming back to haunt me: Theater of the Absurd. It's a story which is essentially so tragic that it can't possibly be real, making it funny by sheer exageration. To that effect I keep waiting for some alien intergalactic version of Ashton Kutcher to pop out of the ceiling in his faux trucker hat and vacant expression saying "Dude. Like, dude! You've been punked!"

Maybe then the last 15 years of my life will have made sense. Being on some sick version of camera candid may be psychologically crushing, but at least it will have entertained someone.

I'm not the type to think of harming myself, so please don't think I'm in any danger when I say this, but when I go to sleep tonight I'm really not looking forward to waking up.


Christa said...

Sorry you have had such a rough time. Just reading it is almost overwhelming.

As to making money writing, have you checked out I just signed up as Christa Dovel and am in the process of setting up with advertisers, before I start placing articles on it.

Joilene said...

It is hard to know what to say, besides, "My prayers are with you." Silver and gold I do not have, but asking God to show you His Light is free. I am also praying for your family, and asking that someday, you will see your dream of being able to help them realized (instead of having to rely on them so heavily).
My heart goes out to you, though I've never been in your exact situation. If it helps, I do know what it's like to feel hopeless over small debts, and to have to say, Well, we can't go to the grocery store this week...maybe next.
Also, I know what it's like to live with large amounts of pain. I spent my 19th summer flat on my back because of complications with an old injury, and the frustration was doubled because of being unable to fulfill my duties of working construction with my dad. (He did nothing to alleviate the guilt, either.) That same injury finally forced me to quit working with my husband on a regular basis. What I'm trying to say is, "I can sympathize somewhat about your physical pain, and I know what it's like to feel inadequate, according to your own or anyone else's expectations."
I want you to know that, like it or not, I'm sticking by you as a friend.
I hope you get your Xbox back.

Joilene said...

I have made up my mind to share a part of your burden, no matter how small, and so have gotten busy looking over "The Sons of Odin" again. I have begun making some sentence-specific suggestions, as well as taking time to notice what you've done well. I will be sending you the sections by e-mail (if your own isn't fixed, perhaps you could print the story on another computer and get something done?), but at the rate I'm going, don't expect more than one section every couple days. After looking over the first installment, if you don't find what I've done helpful, don't hesitate to say, "Quit wasting my time!"
When you get this story polished to your satisfaction, if you publish it somewhere I can link to, let me know and I'll mention it as something interesting on my blog. Do you plan to replace the original posts here with the final version, or perhaps post it as a before-and-after with the first draft?
I'm just thinking, if you still are using this blog as a place for prospective employers to peruse your work, you may as well have some great examples of stories, as well as how-to's.
I've also been curious where you are attempting to publish some of your stories, as I was under the impression that posting something on one's blog automatically uses first rights. I don't know of that many places that take reprints. Like any writer, I'm always on the lookout for nice, paying markets. I've been looking some of my older things over for submission to Flashquake (online mag), but have quite a lot of trouble finding markets that match what I like to write.

John Albers said...

I thank you for your sympathy. Of course I will take all your suggestions for the final version of the story with the utmost respect and sincerity they deserve.

Christa. I have tried and found them to be no more profitable than this blog given their revenue share system of payment. Even more so, this blog has an easy interface for one with such poor computer skills as myself. Hubpages left my head spinning. Let me know if you have better luck than I did.

As for the rights of ownership, I admittedly am a little hazy on the subject and have yet to find a full set of definitions which explain what all the different rights mean. If you know of a link which explains this it would be very helpful. If, by posting these stories, I do indeed use first rights then I shall be forced to delete them once a publisher becomes interested in that work.

In any case, only the rough drafts have been posted to date. Though I will put up the finished versions if you would like. It's up to you.

Joilene said...

Did you get the story edit I sent by e-mail a couple days ago? If not, I'll try again.

John Albers said...

I am sorry, but I did not. Please send it again as your input is always welcome.

Joilene said...

Okay. I've sent the story, Part One, again, through the address I originally contacted you with through Helium. If this is not correct, please let me know. It didn't bounce back and tell me it was a failed delivery, so it seemed to be alright.

Joilene said...

Hey John, besides the first part of "Sons of Odin" the other day, I sent (tonight) a couple chapters of "Leyn" - the story I told you about in response to your request for something Dark Fantasy. If it didn't/doesn't come through in a reasonable amount of time, let me know. If the e-mails (three of them) did/do come through, hit reply and let me know. It seems to me that I might have had several e-mails get "eaten" at your end, over the last few months.

John Albers said...

Joilene. It seems that all the emails you've attempted to send me have not arrived. I've set up another email account that you can send to. I typically use it for stuff that that has a high liklihood of resulting in spam. Send them to