Goin' in!

My check-in for surgery is 9:45. I expect to be checked out between 3 and 6pm. J will post to my twitter when I'm sent safely to recovery and when we actually are tucked in at home.

You can watch for updates at @gement. He will only be updating there.

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Me just before my mammogram yesterday. Yes, I choose my shirts very deliberately.

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J will have my phone and will answer calls and read texts to the phone number. If it is not urgent or relevant to the next few days' care, please don't call. We'll post twitter updates when I'm out.

Support network link

If you would like to offer direct, Seattle-area support, I have a tool for that now!

It is not the world's smoothest tool. You sign up and request entry, and THEN I have to approve you and THEN you validate your email address. But it seems to be the best available for scheduling stuff like ferret-sitting me when I'm recovering from surgery.

I have later plans for a more role-based, less Seattle-specific "Who wants to watch movies with me via chat? Who's good for rides if I check with them first?", but that will be more important after I find out about chemo, and this tool really, really doesn't do it. For now, it's just "Who is keeping me fed the day after surgery?"

Thank you all for your kind words and support. I can't reply to everyone right now, but I deeply appreciate it.

So about emotional reactions to cancer...

A quick emotional summary of my reactions, which are only mine and not a judgment on anyone else's:

I didn't have any particularly existential reaction. I found myself entirely unworried about probability curves that haven't collapsed into data yet. This is, again, not a judgment on people whose fear jumps to the deadly end of the curve. I was as surprised as anyone. Fear about that just... wasn't a thing. Not because I couldn't die, but because that was a non-calculable probability yet.

Instead, I had mostly blunt, short-term reactions like "I haven't opened my mail in six months or figured out how to use my HSA debit card, this is about to become a serious problem," and eventually, "Shit, I didn't actually want top surgery, what can I design that will leave me relatively happy with my chest shape?"

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Some people treat cancer as a wake-up call that life is short, so maybe it's time to learn to play ukulele, dabble in foreign languages, shave your head for fun, go caving, or book an international trip. It turns out I have actually been doing well at that sort of list! (I did resolve to get laid more often, however.)

I've cried really violently three or four times in the last few weeks. One of those times was worrying about acquiring chest dysphoria. The rest were about coping with managing email communication, trying to make lists of people to actually talk to and talk to them.

Could be displacement. Really doesn't feel like it. This is not a metaphor. This is my deep, deep difficulties with mail logistics, social management, housecleaning, and paperwork. It's been the intractable bugbear of my therapy work for well over a decade, and if it takes cancer to kick its ass and let me get a new set of problems, hell yes, I'll take it.

Rather serious announcement, but punctuated by funny dog metaphors.

Hi everyone! I have breast cancer.

My prognosis is great. I'm feeling quite chipper about it and dealing with it right away, as in, this week. If that's as much as you want to know, congratulations! You're done.

Edited to add: If this is a nasty surprise and we are friends, it is probably because I do not have your current email address! I tried to make private announcements last week. Please write to or otherwise communicate current contact information to me. Connection is good.

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Ape Cave: Never mine! (was: Wanna come?)

Upd8: We have a car! All is well! If I have excited any of you about going to Ape Cave anyway, there is nothing stopping you from going the same day, and you could let me know so we could match up timing.

But we're good.

If you live in Seattle, have a car that seats four, and would like to go down to Ape Cave tomorrow (Sunday), shout out!

So there are three of us going to Ape Cave, and one of us was going to rent a car, but it turns out everyone else wanted to rent a car first, and we have no car.

We're happy to pay gas and your day pass. We have enough lights for everyone, but bring your own helmet and your own headlamp if you want those things.

We plan on trying the upper cave, though we're none of us in fantastic shape. I've seen it suggested that we do it from the top, so we're warmed up from hiking and then get to cool down going on a nice downhill in the cave.

This offer would also be open to more than one person, as long as the eventual result is that there are three more spaces in the vehicle.

Good things: Caving, cleaning, and coolness.

I'm still going to APE CAVE on Sunday and have gotten much sage advice about lights.

Accomplishments and good things since last posting:
- Cleaning my room for three hours of focused energetic time on Saturday. (Thanks, Bretts!)
- Sorting my paperwork for an hour of focused energetic time on Sunday. (Thanks, Pepper*!)
- Literally innumerable phone calls and emails (I have no idea how many).

- Ordering $100 worth of flashlights for APE CAVE.
- Receiving a new and beautiful Rainbow-Dash-blue ukulele. SO COOL.

- COMING OUT TO 50,000 Stark Industries** employees yesterday as genderqueer and preferring "they" pronouns via company newsletter. That was a hell of a shot of adrenaline this morning. I came in to a dozen congratulatory emails from coworkers on being featured. (None commented on the gender or pronoun content, which was actually the main possibility I was stressing about***, so this is ideal.)

* I'll keep calling my personal assistant Pepper here, especially since the company owner who is the best at paperwork took my assignment because I need the logistical heavy hitter.

** I've decided to start pseudonymizing my company as Stark Industries because that would be cooler than the truth, and because it's canonical that they are in the same industry space.

*** I have a few layers of pronoun personal space. Coworkers are in the "I could tell you, but then I'd have to resent it when you get it wrong and everything would feel awkward, so let's just not" zone. Before I agreed to the article, I had to make a personal decision about how I would handle it if people in my working group asked about using my pronouns.

Thought for the day

Occasionally, I see huge, masked figures, warlike, towering, but also distant and listless. They haven’t seen me. Or, if they’ve seen me, they haven’t cared. Or, if they’ve cared, they haven’t done anything with that feeling.

I’m not scared of them. There are so many things in this world to be scared of. Why add to that number when the only cause is you know nothing about them and they are huge? It would make no sense.

Intern Dana, Welcome to Night Vale

Lava tube! Laaavaaa tuuuuuuuube

Washington State has one of the best publicly accessible lava tubes, Ape Cave.

I'm going! Along with J and corivax, who is kind enough to drive.

If you peruse the official site, you will note it suggests two light sources per person.

... I own one tiny flashlight.

While I should own more flashlights, I don't own flashlights and headlamps for everyone, and headlamps seem to run $20 each, which is a lot for something I won't use a lot.

Anyone Seattle-ish care to loan me some light sources?

Good things Seven Seven

1. Hot date with Bretts last night, for values of hot that ended up talking about self-care and social perceptions of gender and bodies and what we like about them until two in the morning instead of actually doing anything with them, with gourmet dinner and a two hour break for playing ukulele together.

If we weren't both birdplanes, I might suspect we were lesbians.

2. My reproductive system is behaving on schedule, which means all the appointments I already scheduled get to stay where they are! (Seriously, it's like planning a rocket launch in here.)

3. I hired Pepper's Personal Assistants (someone knows how to market to rich tech geeks) and have my first meeting with my Pepper on Thursday. No, I will not be asking to be called Mr. Stark. I will just be thinking it in my head.

The first email reply I got was so reassuring I almost cried. I'm really looking forward to this.

4. Getting masses of things done, including starting to consistently use an online calendar (no more triple scheduling dates, plz), raising my credit card limit in light of my now making wowmoney, and writing down all the stray "I need to" thoughts in a nice black book.

5. For being so (internally generated) busy, my life is feeling increasingly rich. That's pretty great.

Good things, Fifth of July

1. I had two good dates in two nights, did Science! on both, finally got to show Meowse my beautiful ukulele, and discovered D. Wendell has the world's cuddliest goat. Seriously, that goat is secretly a dog.

2. I am hiring a personal assistant for two hours a week to get my paperwork life under control. This will force me to get things in good enough order for the assistant to do the less personal bits. Fingers crossed for changing bad patterns of several decades.

3. In pursuit of this, this morning I started a load of laundry and did about 20 minutes of room cleaning with no panicking at all. I hope this keeps up at least long enough to excavate.

4. I took the cat for a walk yesterday evening and we only heard a few distant pops so she didn't freak out. It was a lovely walk. (I take the cat out to our back yard on a harness and a long lead, so she can smell everything and fantasize about being allowed to murder birds again.)

5. Ukulele satisfaction!

On advice from several people I went ahead and ordered a second uke, a Rainbow Dash colored Makala Dolphin. General received wisdom is, "If you're only going to spend <$50 on an ukulele, get this one. Really." So now I have a recruiter uke which I can take on my trip to Amsterdam without worrying about it, annnnnnnnd

that means I can tune my more expensive one to Low-G!* J and I walked down to our friendly local instrument store today and picked up a new ukulele string for me, and we did not die of heat.

* Standard ukulele tuning is "reentrant," which means that what would usually be the lowest note is tuned an octave higher. Search "my dog has fleas" and you'll hear how the notes are arranged.

Low-G tuning means taking that octave-high slot and tuning it low instead, so the notes are lined up in order like on a guitar. There are advantages to both, so a common source of Ukulele Acquisition Syndrom (UAS) is "but I need a second one for Low-G!"