endless cycle of failure
Sunday, March 19 2023
This after Gretchen and I had managed to reach the level of "queen bee" in today's New York Times Spelling Bee (the panagram being "bullfrog"), I happened to look down at Lester where he was sleeping on the striped chair near the east-facing window of the living room. It was then that I noticed the inside of his left paw and forearm (whatever that is called on a cat) was swollen, red, and possibly even oozing a clear liquid. His dew claw on that arm was almost lost in the swelling. Horrified, I picked him up to show this to Gretchen, and she too was aghast. Apparently this was something Fern had noticed a couple weeks ago and reported as something of a "hot spot." But it had worsened since then. I wondered if it was a galloping metastasizing cancer. Or perhaps it was just ring worm (which is really just athlete's foot — that is, a fungus — somewhere else on the body). In hopes it was that, I rubbed some athlete's foot cream on it. As I did so, the swelling didn't seem to have any hard chunks in it, which made me feel better about it.
This afternoon while I busied myself on unfinished workplace work leftover from Friday, Gretchen went on a walk with her young friend Natalie, the former high school student whom Gretchen had as something of a poetry apprentice back in around 2015 or so (this was an arrangement set up through Onteora High School's gifted & talented program). In more recent years, Natalie has also become friends with Powerful, one of Gretchen's former students at Eastern Correctional Facility who lived with us for two years following his release from prison. They met when Gretchen hired Natalie to help teach Powerful how to drive, though later they did things like weightlifting (or some other calisthenics) together, back before Powerful's heart transplant. We haven't heard much from Powerful since we left for Costa Rica, though he did run up a charge on a shared (and now canceled) credit card he wasn't supposed to be using. We also saw him looking terrible on a video feed from Light's phone when Light visited us in Costa Rica. So naturally Gretchen was curious about whether Natalie had heard anything recently from Powerful. It turned out she had, and Gretchen led with the good news (though who knows if it is true). Supposedly now Powerful is working for an organization whose cause is the end (or at least the mitigation) of gun violence. But some terrible things had also happened. One such thing was that Powerful foolishly lent his car, the 2010 Prius we sold him at a steep discount, to one of his friends. The car was then stolen from that friend, got involved in a police chase, and ended up flipping over and rolling several times. Needless to say, it didn't survive this experience, so now Powerful has no car. It had been the one possession he'd had that had any real value. It's possible that this is just a cover story for something even more embarrassing that had actually happened, but it doesn't really matter. Now Powerful is dependent on walking and public transportation and, remember, he's working with a transplanted heart. However he lost his car, it was surely the result of face-palmingly-bad decisionmaking on his part. Some people just seem to have bad luck, but when someone squanders his gradschool money away on sketchy cryptocurrency investments, lets a prostitute use a hotel room he rented to sell drugs from, destroys what's left of his God-given heart within months of leaving a vegan household, and loses his most valuable possesssion by loaning it to a "friend," it suggests he can't be trusted to make a wise decision. His real-life misfortune rather reminds me of the supposed "bad luck" stories of internet romance scammers, the people who keep asking for (and getting) money from gullible suckers to help out with supposed oil rig explosions, repeatedly lost cellphones, pursuit by armed criminals, unfair incarcerations, and their children being suddenly afflicted with horrifying medical conditions. As I said to Gretchen, it reminded me in a way of [REDACTED]. Powerful is similarly stuck in his mental rut, and it produces an endless cycle of failure. It's enraging, but, as Gretchen correctly points out, if he could be doing better, he would.
Mind you, the recent bad news for Powerful isn't just that he lost his car. He's also supposedly so broke that his internet was turned off. This likely accounts for why his cellphone data usage went from an average of about 100 MB/day on Feb 21st to 4 GB/day by Feb 28th (he's still on our family cellphone plan which we pay for; fortunately for his phone the data plan is unlimited).
This evening Gretchen made pad thai with rice noodles, though she insisted the noodles were undercooked this time, perhaps in overcompensation for what happened with the noodles in the noodlebake the other evening. By that point in the evening, I was proud of myself for having made great progress on the work-related task I'd been working on earlier. But before I went to bed, I thought of some complicated SQL code that I needed to write, so I stayed up a little later producing about 60 lines of that. I'd taken 150 mg of pseudoephedrine this morning to help with this work, and this time it really seemed to do all that I'd hoped for. Often I drink alcohol to help me come down off a pseudoephedrine buzz. But I didn't have any today. Instead I had 150 mg of diphenhydramine. After several such experiences, I can say that I really like the feeling of being on both drugs at the same time (when taken 12 hours apart, that is), though it does make my mouth very dry.
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