I Hate Amazing Art

Okay, that’s not true. I mean, it is true, but it isn’t true. Amazing art infuriates me. No, that’s another true but isn’t true situation. Is there a word for that? I feel like there should be a word for that. Hopefully not one of those long German words that I see, think about how perfect it is that the word exists, vow to memorize, then immediately forget.

Amazing art makes me feel bad. No, it makes me feel good. But it makes me feel bad. And that’s a directly proportional relationship: the better it makes me feel, the worse I feel. Probably due in equal parts to The Calling and The Perfectionism.

The Calling is that feeling that you were Meant To Do Something. You might not necessarily know what that Something is, but you can feel it tugging at the edges of your mind. That there is some Greatness lurking deep inside you, if you can only find the proper outlet to bring that Greatness forth into the world. I hear it’s pretty common in ADHD types and even more common in the hallways of mental wards.

The Calling can be very frustrating when it’s unresolved. Imagine if Don Quixote had never seen a windmill. He knows that there are giants out there and he knows he’s meant to defeat them, but he doesn’t know what they look like, where they are, or what he’s supposed to do if he ever runs into one. That may be a little bit of a strained analogy, but I’m fresh off The Newsroom and The Expanse, so I’m feeling a little Quixotic.

Amazing Art speaks to The Calling inside me. It whispers in the back of my mind that yes, maybe this is that thing I’m meant to do. Maybe this is the thing that can give birth to whatever this thing is inside me that oh so desperately wants to see the light. Meanwhile The Perfectionism is screaming that I can’t I can’t I can’t. I don’t know how to do the thing perfectly, and it would take way too long to learn how to do the thing perfectly, therefore that’s not the right thing to express The Calling and I need to think of something other way. This is why I currently have scattered around me in my office

  • Watercolors
  • Acrylic paints
  • Embroidery
  • Wool for felting
  • Sheet music
  • Ukuleles
  • A piano
  • A theremin
  • Various cloth material
  • A kalimba
  • Various homemade musical instruments
  • Laser-cut and laser-engraved wood
  • A rainbow of pens, markers, crayons and colored pencils
  • A box of rubber chickens
  • Comics
  • Art books
  • Instructional manuals
  • Lego
  • Bubbles
  • Magnets
  • Electronics

These are just the things I see by spinning around in my chair a couple of times and not even spinning that slowly. If I went through the house enumerating all of the various forms of art and entertainment I’ve picked up and put down repeatedly over the years trying to figure out The Calling, I’d have the longest post I’ve ever written and the deepest depression I’ve ever felt. And both of those are high bars to clear.

Do I excel at any of those things? No. Have any of those things released me from The Calling? Also no. Have any of these things had one brief moment where I felt like I was close to Something Really Big that could possibly be The Calling? Yes, all of them. Did any of those things have a moment following that brief moment where I felt like an inept fraud who could never reach The Calling in that manner? Yes, all of them.

“You should just find something that makes you happy and just find joy in doing that at whatever level you can. Just enjoy the process and be content in creating something.” I will enjoy the process of punching you in the face.

With all of the different things I have done and dabbled in, many have started as simple enjoyment. My patented five step creative process usually works like this:

  1. I like some songs that have a piano in them.
  2. I buy a piano.
  3. I like the way the piano makes noise when I push on the keys.
  4. You know, I’m pretty good at pushing random keys and making something that sounds vaguely like a tune.
  5. I need to learn everything about music theory and learn to play these six other instruments so that I can compose my ten hour symphonic masterwork that will win all of the awards and be referred to by all following generations as what real music should be.

Step number four is usually the big variable for how long I stick with something or how often I come back to it to try again. Something like music is easily returned to for me, because it’s possible to make noise without a lot of skill. If you have a broad enough definition of the word “music,” then smashing piano keys for awhile can have you approaching something that almost fits the definition. Yes, it takes time, training, skill, and talent to be able to smash the keys in a way everyone else will call music, but you can see a finish line with it somewhere in the far distance.

Painting, on the other hand, I have trouble even seeing the starting line. Sure, I can mess around for a bit to create something I can call “abstract,” but that gets me nowhere along the path of The Calling. A random blob on the page that looks like someone sneezed with a bloody nose isn’t the same as a drawing of a person, no matter how much you squint or call it art.

Oh shit. Holy fuck. Shit. Okay, I can’t remember how I first made this connection, since (obviously) my brain tends to ramble along ahead of me, skipping and singing through the woods as I try to catch up to it with my typing. Anyway, at some point my brain stopped at a pond to look at its reflection (stay with me here) and realized that The Calling was not only a part of it, but it was woven throughout the very fibers of my body and wrapped around my heart.

The Calling is cancer.

No no no, I’m not saying cancer is my calling. I’m saying the only other thing I’ve had wrapped around my heart and draining the joy out of my life was cancer. What is the metaphysical mental equivalent of chemotherapy? Well that’s going to keep me up all night now.

You might not be special

So I was reading an article by Cecily Strong the other day. Word of warning, it’s raw and amazing. If you’re not sitting somewhere where you feel comfortable openly weeping, save it for later. I’d say this is some of the stupid shit that made me cry, but it’s far from stupid. It’s heartfelt and written in a way that totally puts you in her brain.

Anyway, the article got me to thinking. If you haven’t been in a place to read it yet, it’s about her cousin’s diagnosis and death from brain cancer, tied in with the pandemic. I read it during lunch, trying to weep as quietly as possible, then got myself together and went back to work. We shut down all of the production machines a week early because we’re getting ready to switch to new software on 1/3 and need to have everything organized, inventoried, and ready to go. This is a company founded in the 1950s that’s been operating off Windows XP and an Access 97 database since back when those were new technology. Now we’re going to web and iPad-based software. So it’s… a lot.

On this particular day, I’m reprinting labels for containers. Some of the labels are on products made in 1999. Two thousand zero zero party over oops, out of time. I have to find a label that looks like crap or has a bar code in the wrong space, take the label out of the package, take a picture of the label, put the label back in the package and the package away, then go to a computer, fire up the Access 97 database, look up the picture of the label, type in the ID number, make sure the information is correct and the label is set up in the right direction (landscape for metal bins, portrait for plastic bins. Holy shit, I just realized they both start with “p.”), print the new label, affix it to a 3″x5″ index card, go back to wherever the bin is, and swap out the labels.

So, mostly mindless work. The kind of work that lets my brain wander and/or churn along on something I’ve been thinking about. Like cancer, death, and why me.

Now, this isn’t the shirt-rending, fists-to-the-sky-in-the-rain kind of “WHY MEEEEE?” Instead this is the “Why did I make it when so many haven’t?” kind of “Why me?” If you ask anyone else who’s survived something like this, they’ve probably had this exact thought some number of times. Especially if they survived despite a grim prognosis. Like a stage 4 cancer that didn’t want to go away with chemo. Hello there.

You’ll read these stories of people who haven’t made it and they had so much going for them. So much potential wasted by getting this stupid disease. And yet somehow their death still made waves in the world. A relative decided to devote themselves to curing that kind of cancer so no one else would lose a loved one. A friend who was on the verge of making it writes a heartfelt song that shoots them to fame. A roommate pours their pain into their art and becomes huge for showing real emotion in their work.

I have a current working theory: when I was going through cancer, there was no one in my circle of influence who was perched on the verge of their own greatness. Since my death wouldn’t inspire anyone to reach greater heights in their art, profession, or service to mankind, there was no reason for me to die, so I got a free pass. So yes, if you knew me in the mid-to-early 2000, you had already peaked back then. Even me dying wouldn’t have made you a big thing. Fate says so.

Aside from pointing you toward Cecily’s great article and dissing all five of the people in my life, I’m writing this post as a warning. If you get diagnosed with any kind of disease that has death as a possible outcome, look at your friends and family. Any artists? Songwriters? Novelists? Potential med students or creators of international charities? DITCH THEM IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!

Just a note from Simon

I have a little bit of stuff from last week to talk about, but instead I’m going to talk about today since it’s still on the tip of my mind. Also, I’ve been having more problems typing lately so that might rear its ugly head. I don’t have any kind of autocorrect/autofill/spellcheck stuff enabled, because I want to be able to see what’s happening. Granted, I catch a lot of it by the time I get to the end of the sentence, but still. Aside from occasionally doing weird things out here, it can be a real bitch to get passwords entered when the sight doesn’t have the little eyeball to click. Anyway, today.

When Dad’s memory started going, he would always talk about how stupid he was now. If I had a nickel for every time he said “I can’t do that, I’m too stupid” once this thing started digging into his brain, I’d have quite a few nickels. He kept equating memory with intelligence. If I can’t remember anything, then obviously I’m not smart. This was frustrating on a number of levels.

You see, Dad was smart. Really smart. If something needed to be fixed or created, he could come up with the way to do it. He was a machinist, and his favorite part was making the machines do what he wanted. He had his own business building drag cars and came up with designs good enough to be stolen by the top kit manufacturer. And yes, a lot of his intelligence also came from his memory. He was great at remembering all kinds of stuff and applying those things he remembered to the situation at hand.

When I started racing, he was always tinkering with the bike. I spent a lot of practice time testing settings. I’d go out for a lap, then come in so he could change something. Back out for a lap, back in so he could change it in the other direction. He learned a lot about our bikes and as a side effect, he made me a great tester. When I’d come in that third time, I’d have to describe to him what changed in the bike. Not “last time you went up two clicks on the rebound,” but “when I was braking hard into the slow corner, the rear end was really smacking into me and the front end was trying to dive under the rut.” That was why we made a great team: I could tell him how the bike felt, and he knew what to change to fix it.

Like most things from my motocross life, that transferred over into real world skills. When I worked phone support, I could describe what the person was seeing like I was looking over their shoulder. Any time I’ve been injured, I can explain to the doctor exactly where and what kind of pain I’m feeling. Barb has marveled over all of the different medical nuances I’ve been able to describe over the years, especially during the cancer years. My dental hygienist has remarked on several occasions about my ability to describe what’s happening in my mouth.

That made a lot more sense in my brain.

Anyway, Dad was really smart and he felt stupid as his memory started to leave him. I would try to get him to understand that it wasn’t his processor that was failing him, it was his hard drive. He could still do the calculations, he just needed to store the equations in a different place. An external hard drive, like a notebook. Today however, I realized it might not have just been his memory loss that made him feel stupid.

We’ve got this big project at work where we’re trying to upgrade a thirty year old system to something more modern. Seriously, the whole company is currently run off of a Microsoft Access 97 database. All of the tech is a mishmash of versions of things cobbled together to work off this ancient system. They’ve tried to update everything a couple of times in the past, but This Time It’s Serious. We’re going to be going from Windows XP and Access 97 to iPads and web forms.

Fortunately, we have consultants doing the heavy lifting, one of whom is the guy who moved me over to the IT role where I’d always have his support. Until he quit a couple of months later and started working for his friend’s consulting company who our company keeps on retainer. He had started working on all of this conversion before leaving, so he’s spearheading the effort now. There are a lot of moving pieces, so he gives me things to do like setting up equipment or labeling shelves for inventory or what have you. Things that I can figure out a plan for, then turn off my brain and plow through it.

Today, I was unboxing a bunch of barcode scanners, putting IDs and velcro on them, putting velcro on the back of the cases of our fleet of iPads, then sticking them together. I worked out my system for what was going to go where and when and got to work. After two or three rounds, I realized I felt… simple.

If there’s one thing that pisses me off the most about my brain, it’s how I’m losing the words to describe things. “Simple” was the first thing that came to mind as it was happening, and it’s as good a word as any, I suppose. I was taking a scanner, taking the back off a label, sticking the label to the scanner, sticking a piece of velcro right under the sticker, then moving on to the next. I had already unboxed all of the scanners, made all of my labels, cut my pieces of velcro. Now it was just a little production line with nothing to do but follow the steps. Simple tasks being done by a simple man.

That’s what I pictured from the outside, anyway. I had my “I’m not listening to you” headphones on, listening to my music, a distant unfocused smile on my face as I plodded along through my task. Like Lenny in Of Mice and Men before he started killing rabbits.

Picturing myself like this, I thought of Dad and wondered if this was part of what he was talking about. While I was thinking of myself as “simple,” another generation could easily read that as “stupid.” Maybe it was a language barrier thing of his own.

So here I was, Simple Simon, doing all of my little tasks and I felt… content. I think that’s what drew my attention in the first place. Feeling content is something that happens very rarely in my world. That feeling of content was what was behind that simple smile, but what was behind the contentment? As usual when things start going right, I had to start overanalyzing and that’s when it hit me.

My brain was silent.

It wasn’t silent in a whiteout way, where I’m trying to access something and there’s nothing there (still just the two times that’s happened so far). Instead, it was like when the power goes out during a snowstorm. Initially, you’re surprised at how noisy your house had been. Even if you were just sitting on your couch reading, you suddenly notice how much noise the lights had been making. You miss the low hum of the refrigerator. That electrical aura that encapsulates your environment 24/7 is suddenly gone. With the electromagnetic interference out of the way, you realize you can hear the silence outdoors. Those seemingly quiet electrical lines are somehow even more quiet. There’s hardly anyone outside because of the snowstorm, so you don’t even hear traffic moving anywhere. You can almost hear each snowflake when they touch the ground outside.

Is this what the regular people are like? All of those people without ADD and constant inner narratives and thoughts and words and ideas and feelings and everything in a constant mental maelstrom. Do they get to experience this quiet all the time? Of course, I was spoiling it a little while trying to think it out, much like we do in that snowstorm, craning our necks and straining our ears to hear that noise that we know is there somewhere, until we wind up wandering outside and becoming the noise ourselves.

This must be what peace is like. Inner peace, outer peace, whatever. Just being able to sit somewhere, music in your ears, a task at your fingertips, and silence in your brain. I tried to hold on to that feeling, that quietness for as long as possible. Eventually, the power always comes back on and the traffic starts back up again and my brain is no different. When the lights come back on, we miss that feeling of absolute silence, deep down in our soul, even as we rejoice at having light and cold food in the fridge again. I’m happy that my brain spun back up into problem-solving mode, but I long to have that silence again. That contentment. That simplicity.


Okay, this isn’t one of my weird word substitutions, it’s a brand new word that Merriam Webster is totally going to thank me for. We all know that petrichor is the smell of the world after a rainfall on a warm day, right? If not, learn yourself some education. My new word is puprichor. The feeling you get when you’re in a comfortable warm room on a cold winter weekend day, listening to the chilly winds buffet the house when you look over and see a dog curled up and sleeping in its warm bed, happy and content. The feelings of puprichor can be increased if the dog is a rescue, if the dog is old, if the dog is young, if the dog is middle-aged, if the dog is a dog.

In the midst of the holiday season, people occasionally find themselves prone to making wishes. If I had one wish for these holidays, it would be that everyone would get to experience puprichor at least once in their life. Assuming that I would get other wishes later, of course. Otherwise, that holiday wish is for money and a case of banana Moon Pies.

Puprichor, personified. I mean, dogrified.

Stupid Shit That Makes Me Cry

So since I’ve created the glossary, it seems my brain doesn’t want to play word substitution any more. Or maybe it’s gotten so good at it, I don’t notice now. I apologize insincerely if that has happened while talking to you. And no, that wasn’t a word placement.

I started thinking, “Maybe I should track something that happens a LOT and will probably keep happening.” I mean, the worst that could happen is that I decide to track that thing and suddenly I stop doing that thing. While I don’t think tracking each time I haven’t won the lottery will work the same way (I didn’t win in the last one, by the way), we’ll see for what else might change in my life after tracking, like

The Stupid Shit That Makes Me Cry.

I’ve talked about this before in a previous post, so go back and read that one to get caught up here. I’ll wait. No, I won’t. ADHD, remember? If you don’t get the gist of it, these are things that make me super stupid emotional for some reason. Usually a stupid reason.

Tonight’s Stupid Shit That Made Me Cry, Pearl Jam’s Unplugged performance of “Porch” in 1992.

I told you this was stupid shit.

In my random Youtube wandering, I stumbled into Pearl Jam’s Austin City Limits performance of “Just Breathe,” which led me down the rabbithole. Had to watch the whole episode, of course, and they ended it with “Porch,” which reminded me how much I love the song (hey, it’s been 31 years since release) at which point, I looked it up through the lyrics (since I rarely remember the actual names of Pearl Jam songs) and pulled it up on Spotify through my phone so I wouldn’t lose my place in Youtube on the TV.

Oh, I was also cleaning and conditioning the fretboard of one of my ukuleles because I’m getting back into playing and am in the process of re-stringing it to better play the songs I want to play.

So I listened to it on my tinny little iPhone speaker and had to at least pump it through the surround sound. So I looked up Pearl Jam Porch and the first hit was the Unplugged appearance. When Nirvana did Unplugged, they did Unplugged. When Pearl Jam did Unplugged, they did Pearl Jam. Check that. They did PEARL JAM. And holy shit did they push the rocking beyond the bounds of their little acoustic guitars. And who can forget the Sharpie coming out during the jam band section? Just a little reminder that Pearl Jam has always been willing to be political and that women have always been getting screwed over.

So, yeah. Tears. I don’t know if I’m going to make this its own section like the Moondoggie Dictionary, though the name “The Waterworks” just ran through my head so I might have to do that. Until then (come on, you know how I am), I’ll just tag appropriately.

Finally, a Translator!

Okay, maybe not so much a translator as a glossary. As I mentioned a few days (weeks? months?) ago, my brain has gotten more rigorous at coming up with new words for words I’m trying to access. The most recent was the name of the medical device that doctors install to regulate a patient’s heartbeat. You know – the tachometer.

I recently got my first Apple Watch in an attempt to offload some brain functions that might occasionally be… lacking. Most specifically note taking and an abundance of reminders. After years of fighting against it, I’ve now given in to having short conversations with Siri. Anyway, I got myself an Ultra (this is back in the Series 8 days, future travelers) due to its durability and gigantic size. The durability’s an obvious plus, since I have a tendency to not pay attention to how my arms are flapping about. The gigantic size is great to make it easier to use with my sausage fingers and to make the watch look more of a normal size with my big paws. The only issue is the included band (the velcro trail whatever band) doesn’t open enough to let the aforementioned big paw slip easily through.

So off to reddit I go to wander r/applewatch for a few hours. In addition to some watch band ideas, I walked away filled with amazement at how much people expect from a watch. One in particular was upset at how the watch was reading his HRV (Heart Rate Variability, something to do with your heart rate fluctuating and a low number is worse than a high number). It had been reading in low numbers (again, bad), but when he checked the HRV being given by the pacemaker installed in his body, his HRV was really a higher healthy number. That’s right, he’s comparing heart readings from a watch on his wrist to heart readings from a device inside his heart.

I had been discussing my new watch with the IT consultant/former boss who had come onsite that day, so I tracked him down to tell this tale. It was going well until I got to the word “pacemaker.” The best I could come up with was “tachometer.” He didn’t pick up on it because he was probably only halfway paying attention to me, but I pondered the proper terminology over the next couple of hours while I did other things. I couldn’t come up with anything better than “tachometer.”

I wasn’t too worried about it since I was doing other things, but did start panic breathing a little as I neared the end of the second hour. So I stopped everything and laser-focused on the problem at hand. Yes, I was sitting in front of a computer that would tell me the answer in seconds, but I was On A Mission. So I sat there staring at my desk for FIVE MINUTES before I finally thought of “pacemaker.” Interestingly, the recovered word was brittle for a little while. I’d think about how I would recount the ordeal to my wife and I’d remember the word started with a P, then have to gather myself to come up with the rest of the word.

While it has been suggested that I might have had “tachycardia” lodged in my brain, I’m pretty sure it was an even simpler comparison. Tachometers measure rpm, so why not bpm?

All of this to say that I now have a way on the site for us (the royal us) to keep track of these new words as well as any other things I come up with. Take a look at The New Moondoggie Dictionary, readily available in the header of the site. If I find a way to link to a specific word, I might use that in the future. I just spent two hours trying to put a copyright notice in my footer without destroying the site, so I’ve had it for programming today.

And then, he died…

Okay, so I’m still alive, but it’s just like me to drop a “hey guys, I might have early-onset Alzheimer’s” and then disappear for almost a month and a half. I was actually a little worried about my brainmeat there, because I saw my last post was August 28th and thought “I posted seven days ago? I thought it was a lot longer than that!”

My brainmeat has been a little iffy the more I pay attention to it. Kind of like when you notice something hurts a little, so you hyperfocus on the pain until it feels like you need surgery. Or a splint. Or something. My most recent word replacement was that holiday in March known throughout the world as Leprechaun Day. Granted, that’s not quite the same stretch as “fish museum,” but I’m rolling with it.

I’ve realized a few times lately at work that there are things I’ve done project-wise that I just have no memory of. We had an issue with on of the alarm zones and the keypads still had old maps next to them, not new maps representing our new alarm people. The shop guy comes to me about it and I’m trying to figure out why he’s bugging me. Oh, right. Because I was the one creating the new maps back in February. After some random searching along the lines of “If I were me, where would I put the file?” I found my last edit of the map which was a little lacking in information. It was enough to be left alone for a bit, so I used the time to start digging through my desk drawers to see if I had any sort of notes. I found a few printouts with modest amounts of info and figured this was what I was given.

A few minutes later, the head boss comes upstairs with his manila folder. “Here’s all of the things you sent me last time” he says, as he shows me the same printouts I was holding in my hand. Ah. So apparently I made these documents. Wondrous.

Similar thing occurred when I was reminded that I needed to set up the safety meeting for this quarter, since I’m the new head of the Safety Committee. The previous guy ran the last one, so this one is up to me. Previous guy wanted to sit with me to discuss what I had come up with as a topic for the meeting. Ummm… I was thinking the topic would be… safety?

I vaguely felt like I might have taken notes last time, so I looked around for those in the five or six half-used spirals I have around my desk. Here it is: “Have meetings on Wednesday. Next one: October,” Thank you, Past Brian. Now I totally know how to run this meeting.

Part of me was a little worried about these gaps in my memory. They kind of vaguely came into focus as I researched them, but they weren’t there before I did. Then I realized that a lot of that could just be not really caring about the job. I hear people talking about some of the things we do and rattling off product numbers and stuff, and I’m just amazed that anyone could have enough interest to learn any of it. So I think I’ve basically given my brain a free pass to delete whatever it wants in regards to the job. Lovely.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to try bowling. It turns out, I’m quite bad at it. Like get-a-strike-and-follow-with-four-gutter-balls bad. Little flashes where it seems like I know what I’m doing, followed by long stretches of “you know the object is to knock the pins down, right?” But today I played games 18, 19, & 20 with scores of 114, 81, and 79 respectively. In a way, I’m happy to just see a trend there. My average right now over those 20 game is a whopping 85. And that’s with three games over the 110 mark. Oof.

I’m being good-humored and patient about it, though. The only other time I ever bowled was in ’93 or ’94, and even then I only played a few games with friends. So I’m saying these 20 are my very first 20 at this point. One day I’ll learn how to be at least slightly consistent.

Then it’s all over for you bitches.

A Trip to the Fish Museum

Okay, let’s talk about the new and spectacular health issues I’m dealing with. Namely, my brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is something that primarily affects people over the age of 65. They’re still trying to figure out what causes it and what can stop it, but there are a few risk factors, including a history of head injuries, clinical depression, and high blood pressure. Well, at least my blood pressure is normal. While there’s a genetic marker (APOE) that points toward a risk factor, it seems to be more of a “greater likelihood than normal” marker rather than a “you have it and you’re screwed” marker.

It’s estimated that 5-10% of Alzheimer’s cases are of the Early Onset variety, with about 60% of those actually inherited genetically, and those cases are known as Early Onset Familial Alzheimer’s disease. The accepted age limit for Early Onset is “before 65,” though most are in their 50s or early 60s while some have been diagnosed as early as in their 30s. I know about this not only from Wikipedia, but also because my father was diagnosed at the age of 57. My father’s father was also diagnosed with it, though I don’t know how old he was at the time.

While there was always a worry in the back of my brain, I recently turned 51 and that worry has evolved into a frantic screaming voice in my head. You know how sometimes you’ll misplace your keys and you’ll think “Oops, must not have been paying attention?” My brain says “THIS IS IT! IT’S STARTING NOW! FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!”

It’s a slightly stressful way to live.

When my dad was diagnosed, there weren’t any ways to test for EOFAD or any type of Alzheimer’s, other than conversations with doctors and memory testing. You’d think that would help, but here’s the problem with that: how do you convince a doctor that having a memory function that’s better than the average population is still worse memory function than you used to have? My dad was very smart and had a sharp and thorough memory. He could tell something was going wrong, we could tell something was going wrong, the doctors could tell he was getting older. Because that’s what happens when you get older – you forget things. Too bad patients, that’s just how life works. It took us a few years before a doctor would finally diagnose him with Early Onset. Again, he was 57 at diagnosis after a few years of symptoms. I’m 51.


Recently, I was reading an article about genetic testing and the various flavors of Alzheimer’s. It stated that for regular Alzheimer’s, they still just had the one gene that would suggest a propensity for something like Alzheimer’s happening. Basically, about as helpful as asking a rando on the street about your future. For EOFAD though, they’ve identified three genes where if you have them, you will get EOFAD. Full stop. When I read that, I burst into tears. Right there, sitting at my desk at work, bursting into tears. Awkwaaaard.

My wife had to get some genetic testing done for a familial thing, so she recommended her doctor. I reached out to him, found out I needed a referral, reached out to my doc, got the referral, called the genetics lab, got asked infuriating questions that showed they had no idea what I wanted or why, waited for a call back, called them back and was asked all the same questions that showed whoever I talked to previously didn’t write anything down, then finally got an appointment: the first of December. Better than the “we’re scheduling into next summer” I was originally told, but still. It’s a long wait for a telehealth appointment to talk about my issues, then who knows what will happen from that point. I’ve seen in a couple of places that two of those three genetic markers are only tested for by people who are doing clinical trials. We’ll see what we get in December, I guess.

In the meantime, I’ve been noticing other things. I’ve been trying to avoid looking at all of those “early signs” articles, because like a lot of things, everyone has at least some of the things on the list. The difference is the degree to which those things interfere in your life. It’s like the people who say they’re OCD because sometimes they keep their desk tidy. You know the type. “I’m SO OCD! Every time I take a drink from a bottle, I just HAVE to take the lid off! SO OCD!” But true OCD gets in the way of just about everything you’re trying to do. That’s what makes it a disorder. I hear that with ADHD too. “Last night I just kept switching through the channels. I’m SO ADHD!” No, you’re not. You’re just bored. While there are good and sometimes great things granted to me with my ADHD, it gets in the way of my life a lot. A lot a lot.

Anyway, I know one of the things is issues with words and language. Sometimes not being able to come up with the word, which I think I’ve mentioned here before. You know the word is there, you can describe the word, feel the word, taste it in your mouth, but it just won’t come. Sometimes it’s coming up with different words that are anywhere from partially to completely nonsensical. I’ve noticed it in my writing (well, typing) in the past, but usually I don’t consciously see it happen and usually it’s a nonsense kind of substitution that someone will ask me about when they read it.

Last week, I had a different kind. We were watching “Moving Art” on Netflix. Well, semi-watching. It’s great background sounds. I had tuned in to what was on the screen, because the episode was in Tahiti and there were underwater segments with all kinds of bright. colorful fish. At one point, I thought about how I’d like to go stare at some of these in person for awhile. Not snorkel or scuba-dive. Hell no. Just watch them from the other side of a big glass wall. My specific thoughts: “I know there’s the place in Mystic, but that’s pretty far away. I wonder if there are any closer fish museums.”

The thought ended there, because it didn’t feel quite right. Not like you’re eating something and you bite down on a cilantro stem or piece of bone, but like you’ve been eating something that’s soft and you find a non-soft bit.

I rolled “fish museums” around in my head for a bit, knowing it wasn’t quite right but not why. Finally “aquarium” popped into my head and while I was relieved that I had puzzled out the proper word, I was also a little sad that the proper word was so boring. I guess I should take some solace in the realization that possibly the creative portion of my brain will be the last to go, or will at least put up a hell of a fight.

So here I am, back to typing on the internet again, just waiting to see if I start typing gibberish. If you see something odd, feel free to let me know. Well, not just yet, because I’m still in “hating web programming mode” and haven’t bothered to look at bringing the commenting system back online. But again, at this point I figure you know me, so you probably know other ways to reach me. How convenient. I’m trying to keep these short (and look how well I’m doing!), so I’ll talk about the actual forgetting stuff in the next post.

Astro’s Back… Tell a Friend

Okay, I’m back. I’ve been letting the blog percolate in my mind for awhile, trying to decide what direction to take it now.

  • I could go the daily life route, but I don’t really have a lot of different things going on in my life and that would get old quick.
  • Thanks to good ol’ depression, I’ve stopped almost all of my hobbies, so that cuts down on content quite a bit. Everyone out here seems to have some degree of depression, so there wouldn’t be much light I could shed on that.
  • According to my Middle-Aged CIS White Guy ID card, I’m apparently supposed to spend a large amount of time telling people how to live their lives, but I’ll save that for screaming at the neighborhood children from my porch. Just kidding – we don’t have a porch.
  • I could fill the space with helpful how-tos about things I know how to do, but I usually give people too much credit to think that anyone needs to hear me explain how to do something. Oh shit, they’re going to revoke my Middle-Aged CIS White Guy ID card, aren’t they?
  • I could somehow encapsulate all of those ideas into letting you follow along with a Great Life Journey.

I’ve decided to go with option… fuck, I used bullet points instead of numbers. That last one – I’m going with the last one.

Yeah, it seems like a cop-out of sorts, giving myself the freedom to write about anything, but I’m thinking more about the focus than anything. The old days of Moondoggie were mostly me talking to imaginary internet people about absolutely random shit. Once I was diagnosed with cancer, it all evolved into Cancer is My Bitch, where my cancer journey was the guiding focus. I toyed with other sites later, Lethological to track the difficulties I was having with chemobrain and From Couch to Coach to track my journey to becoming a CrossFit coach, but neither really hooked me enough to solidify what I was doing there. The ADD doesn’t help much either, since it’s easy to get distracted by the new shiny and forget about something for a few days. Or weeks. Okay, fine. Years.

I took everything offline for awhile during a recent job hunt, and now it’s two years later and I’ve realized I’ve missed writing. My return to my neglected sites coincides with the next big steps in a medical journey, so what better time to shift gears?

For the couple of people were CiMB readers or have somehow been old school Moondoggie followers in one form or another, it’s not a cancer thing. At least all of my doctors tell me that all of these symptoms I’ve been having lately aren’t cancer things, even though the only time I’ve had them in the past was the last time doctors were telling me I didn’t have cancer. Right up until, you know, I did.

While I do have new and spectacular health issues to concern myself with, this isn’t that post. Not yet. It’s still brewing. Part of me is waiting for it to be Official and part of me is just wanting the Big Dramatic Reveal like the fucking drama queen that part of me is. You know how I feel about those types of people, so you can imagine how much I dislike that little part of me.

Says the guy writing all of his problems on the internet to a group of strangers and acquaintances.

But that’s the trick to this blog. I’ve scrolled back through some of my old posts and it’s like I’m reading someone else’s writing. And while this author sometimes just won’t get to the fucking POINT, I still like the things he has to say and he still makes me laugh. Or smile. Or tear up.

We really need a new word for that, by the way. Just when writing, so you know if there are tears or if there are tears. And if you immediately read those as two different words, you’re mind kind of people. Have a seat.

Anyway, I’ve decided my primary audience is Future Me. I was going to say “from this point forward,” but let’s be honest, it always has been. I can’t get myself to sit down with a diary and write things out, but I have noooo problem with typing it on the Internet for everyone to see. Well, not everything, but you know. Present Me likes the way Past Me writes, even if Past Me is the asshole who keeps pushing all of his work and worries on to me. By the way, sorry about that, Future Me.

I need a new word for “anyway” too, because I was about to start this paragraph with it and realized that’s how I started the last paragraph and I heard my former English teachers screaming from their… homes? Graves? Hospital beds? I mean, I’m kind of old now, so who knows where they are.

Anyway, (hah) I finally got back to directing my browser at the ol’ site and felt I needed to do something to celebrate. I uploaded the new header graphic (if this is being read Years in the Future, it’s the one I made from my new Moondoggie logo) and if I’m on the site anyway, I might as well start typing a bunch of semi-random words that have been percolating in my head for the last few years. In about ten minutes, Pro Motocross kicks off in Budd’s Creek Maryland, so I’m going to wrap this up for now and who knows, maybe I’ll be back here four hours from then.

Or maybe four years. I’m kooky like that.

Post-posting edit. I just made the mistake of looking at the site on an iPhone and discovered my graphic does NOT scale one little bit. And the race is starting right now, so I’ll have this in the back of my mind for the next four hours. Fuuuuuuuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

Still not great, two years later

Okay, here’s how weird my brain is. I guess July is the time of year when I decide to get back to blogging. Fuck, do they call it “blogging” anymore? Is writing things down even still a thing? Like writing with no real purpose other than entertaining strangers with the stupid shit in your head? Is that what TikTok is?

Anyway, I took the site down for a year or two so I wouldn’t have to think about keeping up with it and now I’m thinking about keeping up with it again. And holy crap, is there a lot of old stuff patched together around here.

Like I usually do when I decide to restart my web life (moondoggie.com is 25 years old this year), I read back through a couple of posts. The post before this will pretty much bring you up to speed on my life, because it seems like I’ve apparently been idling for the past couple of years and living within the confines of that post. I have a few more worries in my life, which I may get around to later, but for now, just a quick “I’m still alive and still messed up” for the one or two people who might randomly wonder what I’ve been up to and pull up the old website.