Club Foot

There have been things that made me want to post. Wheel of Time show, for instance. I haven’t. It’s become not-a-habit, but I miss it of course. Writing is hard, or I’d have books published already, but this kind of writing is easy, except apparently the part where I have to try not to be reprehensible to people who matter to me.

So I was born with a club foot, and spent my first 14 months in casts. They had to be changed 1-2 times a week. Can you imagine? Apparently my father got his money’s worth, since the podiatrist was amazed at how it came out. Exceptional results. But he also said it’s “nothing short of a miracle” that I’ve been able to do the very physical job I’ve had more than 13 years. The foot is getting damaged every time I do what I do, even if while I am doing it there’s no pain. But I get ahead of myself. Seeing the podiatrist was a long time coming.

My right foot has bothered me excessively for some time. Not just in the longer term way I would drive home from work and then limp down the driveway, having been fine until I sat. That’s worse now, and more pointedly painful. Sometimes it hurts at work, but it’s more that working on it makes it respond worse after I stop. I tried a brace along the way, and that could make it worse. I tried different footwear and making sure the ones I wore weren’t too worn. That makes twice a year the minimum frequency for new shoes. I have to make sure the laces are tight at the top. I mitigated it some by getting mid-cut sneakers that are particularly sturdy. A brand that I’d never heard of that, I didn’t notice when I ordered, caters to diabetics. Not quite there yet, just flirting, enough to have made recent changes. I mitigated it a lot by getting new insoles by the famous brand, made for big heavy men to work on more comfortably.

Mitigating is all I can do, it turns out. It’s not one of those things there’s surgery for. Which, well, I don’t know how I feel about surgery that serious. Minor surgery on my neck to remove a cyst that refuses not to be infected? Sure, no problem. I can get custom orthotics if insurance covers it. Gotta remember to ask. I have the exact code and dx to give them when I ask. Footwear with a higher heel will help, less flat than things are normally made these days. And from my own experience, certain things at work are worse and require avoiding or extreme care. Box trucks, usually rentals, have much higher steps up and down from the dock and landing on the foot hard is bad. Standing in one place can be bad. Ironically, that was something I was doing on my otherwise easier days, doing QA work at a standing desk. Nothing is really going to solve doing athletic work for 6-8 hours a day, entirely on my feet, except no longer doing that kind of work.

From the club foot, the back of the foot is one giant bone spur. I have almost no range of motion. I can keep this as limber as possible through stretching, but it’s never going away. I also have osteoarthritis at the top of the foot. Normally if you have arthritis in a joint, you probably have it elsewhere, and I’d be surprised if I don’t. However, the nature and cause of this particular arthritis might mean that’s not the case. Which would be good, but I do live in this body. Not all of the pains are gout, which is well controlled, although now I’m at the highest dose of allopurinol, after years on the lowest dose.

I love my job. Usually. Complaining sometimes regularly notwithstanding. It’s something of a mystery why I’ve stayed in it. One super weird factor is because I can do it. The club foot contributed to my lack of athletic ability in my youth. For a while I could have my foot randomly twist out from under me and I’d go flying. That went away until recently, but it was never normal in function. My main problem was nerve damage from meningitis. Poor coordination sunk me. And even as recently as age 30 – OK, half a lifetime ago – when I had a job something like this, other people could move circles around me most of the time. At the time, it seems like a pretty fast, strenuous, physical job, but some of the people there wouldn’t know what hit them if they worked where I do now. I love that I am at least mostly capable of doing what they throw at me, and, as I always joke, that it keeps me in some kind of shape besides round.

My job will have to go. Not today. Maybe not even this year. But I’ll have to go back to a proverbial desk job. I’m not sure even some of the options where I work would be viable, though it might be worth finding out. I get a month of paid time off per year. That’s not going to happen at a new job! The insurance is good. They are large and stable. I generally love the people. I wouldn’t hesitate to hire most of them if they came looking for a job somewhere I had the say in that. The pay could be better, but as near as I can tell, it’s a good step up even to the more modest job upgrades.

Indeed, I was going to have to figure things out soon anyway. The kids are just over three years from all being out of high school. They’ll stop being factors in the government throwing refundable tax credits at us. They’ll drop off the wife’s disability. While at the same time being able to use any help we can offer for college. On some level, it’s bad that they are all college material. We have math/computer science/quantum computing, back to wanting to go to college in Germany because it’s free. Except living expenses, and having to show you have a nest egg of like $10k before being accepted. We have chemistry, most likely, following in the footsteps of the PhD cousin. Maybe geology. Almost as good in math but with less interest, though both compete on the math team against other schools. Basically some kind of science, all science rules. Then we have history, and teaching. Could do as well in math but may have had a teacher who instilled a hatred of it while we weren’t looking. A or A+ in everything without trying. But without the interest in the sciences and math that the other two have. We finagled the oldest into AP Calculus that’s for seniors-only, as a junior, which will probably lead to a change for others in the future. The oldest is also taking the AP Computer Science test without having taken the class, after getting 85 on the sample exam. We’re trying to get another AP CS class offered next year, after they left it off the schedule. Makes me feel deficient in the brain area. Heh.

I wouldn’t even have ended up in this job, or clung to it so tightly, with different circumstances. I went from doing IT mainly for lawyers to handling packages, with a “we’re not saying you’re too old but you’re too old” inability to get hired for a “real job” break, to slinging packages. Before that it was support for Microsoft. Last time I did any IT work that wasn’t a little web stuff, more writing marketing copy than technical, was 2014. That was a day or two of lead on a project with four of us upgrading software and migrating networks to bring together two companies that had merged. My oldest is far more current tech savvy than I am. Getting into something else? Not sure how that’ll happen. “Everyone is hiring” may apply more to different classes of jobs. If I was too old 14-15 years ago (and already a little behind because the only way to get my big client to upgrade was to leave them with someone who could sell them on it, so I’d been focused on old stuff, duct tape, and baling wire), now it’s absurd. I have basically 6 years and a month before I can retire without penalty. Another 3 before I can realistically think about it. Could be interesting…

Sequel

I was thinking never mind a remake. A sequel could have been interesting. It could have answered some questions that will be left forever up in the air about what happened after, or it could have continued to leave ambiguity while still picking up later.

It could have been a bit like having a sequel to The Cutting Edge, another favorite movie of mine. Figure skating meets romantic comedy! What could be better? Besides something that resonates with my own childhood as dramatically as Melody manages. You come along later in their lives and they’re married. Hijinks ensue with their own kid and/or themselves. Times change. Kids not entirely. That they married for real would be some vindication, without regard for how they arrived there after whatever hell there was to pay for the antics at the end of the original.

Of course, in fan fiction anything could happen. A while back I saw someone posit a scenario where they find themselves at Hogwarts via the trolley. Surreal. Or you could put them in a post-apocalyptic situation. TEOTWAWKI could hit while they are off on the trolley, and they are fending for themselves, trying to get by with the clothes on their backs. Pure fantasies of whatever variety.

Skipping ahead would certainly fit the storytelling pattern of the movie. Just as we never see what happens when Daniel collapses after winning the 220. His mother panics! Get the medic! Maybe we don’t need to do more than infer just how traumatic it was for everyone to get their lives and schooling back to something passing for normal. Maybe we don’t need to know how the kids became married old miseries. They just are, and we revisit old friends later in their lives. Ornshaw graduates Top Gun, becomes a hero and gets to return there as an instructor. Wait, wrong movie. Since he’s actually smarter than the teachers, he goes on to become one and show how it’s done. Daniel becomes famous for his art. or at least struggles to make a living at it other than by illustrating Melody’s stories she writes for children.

Or we could throw them together years later, after they’d been torn asunder. Their love will never die, but if they are separated for a while, it takes the right circumstances for a reunion and a more adult romantic comedy before they actually live happily ever after together.

None of which is exactly where I was going with this. The wife started talking and had trouble stopping, much as happens too often when I start typing.

If you go with the Heinleinesque scenario of all realities existing even if they are fiction in our own, then there’s a very real alternate reality, timeline, dimension – whatever you care to call it – in which the events of Melody happened. Number of the Beast, but we’re not in Oz anymore. We don’t know anything about the fine details of that reality in the parts we didn’t get to see, or that came after, but they are happening to those people in that world. Except in the many worlds theory, we have infinitely branching timelines in which any little variation that could happen does happen, each propagating a new universe. Some seem familiar, even indistinguishable. Some seem utterly alien. It takes so little to make a change. A movie that’s released in 1971 and flops in the United States instead does well and makes stars of the people involved, or bigger stars of the already famous ones. That’s a huge ripple through time. Tracy Hyde becomes a household name. She has more and bigger roles. She never becomes a legal secretary. A ten year old boy who’s not entirely different from Daniel Latimer sees it and his life is changed. A far cry from seeing it 47 years later than that and feeling zealously happy yet wistful. Might not be as big a change as we’d have if that movie George Lucas released in 1977, you know, the space one, hadn’t flopped, but… oh wait, that one didn’t flop.

If you put those two concepts together, then every fiction is its own timeline, and every one of those varies and branches infinitely. The one captured by the purveyor of a piece of fiction in our world is just the one we know, not all that could be. Imagine that Icy Hot Song if Ned never lost his head. Or if Avienda, I mean, Ygritte, survived. You know nothing, dear readers.

Seriously, though, a sequel could have been fun. It would have required greater success of the original. While there’s been a great deal of inspiration provided by Melody, despite its cult status, giving us things like Moonrise Kingdom, since most people never heard of Melody, most people wouldn’t care to follow the rest of the story. A shame, but there it is.

1971 Was so long ago, I had to check with my siblings to see if we maybe had seen Melody. As expected, it was no. Never heard of it. I figured that the possibility existed that I could have seen and forgotten it. I doubt it, though. Much as I love First of May and Melody Fair, neither of those came to my attention until later in the seventies. I’d have known them from the movie. The thing is, I know for a fact that we went to see Flight of the Doves in 1971. I remember it being a big deal to my sister. That was yet another Jack Wild film. Yet all I can remember is that I saw it. I remember nothing about it. I remembered parts of the Planet of the Apes movies vividly. My father took as to all four, regardless of whether they might have been age appropriate. I think of myself as having an excellent memory, but things do get spotty from my youth. That wasn’t the best year ever, either, since my father had left in early 1970 and the divorce would be final in the latter part of 1971. Ironically, 4th grade was an exceptional school year for me, and that was 1970-1971. I had both my first crush on a peer, Carol, resembling Melody, and a crush on my pretty blond math teacher. I crashed in 5th grade and had one of my worst school years.  I’ve mentioned it before, but seeing Melody right when I had that first crush in Daniel-but-shyer (and younger) fashion would have been fascinating.

I’m rambling. (I know: “No kidding! You just figured that out?” Heh.) I should be asleep and instead I’m going on and on without saying anything further that pertains to the post. So I’ll stop and survey the damage now.

Nothing Lasts Forever But The Earth And Sky

As I was driving to the dentist, I had to pause for someone to turn to go to the athletic fields behind my childhood elementary school. For some reason, that sparked my thinking of how fast things go, and how they pass. An instant story in my head of a parent obsessed with what their kid was doing in elementary school made me think about how few years that represents, and the fact you’d be moving on from it, or finding yourself crazy.

I’ve had similar thoughts before, and have possibly even mentioned them here. Pretty sure I talked about how quickly the kids grew through stages and suddenly had moved on, sometimes leaving me feeling like I had missed something, or covered that phase inadequately.

Dust in the Wind lyrics aside, in the even longer run, even the earth and sky aren’t forever. We may not be around to see it, nor may our descendants. But flame-out of the sun or heat death of the universe or such are not what I am on about here.

It becomes easier to bear things that might seem less bearable, once you grasp, or if you remember at the time, that this too shall pass. I’ve always had issues with change, of course. Which is funny, for someone who grew up to understand and embrace the economic concept of creative destruction. It was devastating for me to lose my woods around our house, but it wasn’t our land. For a long time, I wanted to become rich enough to buy out the mobile home park that had been built there, buy out all the residents, and send it back to nature, as close as I could to what it had been. Yet is was predictable that something would happen with that prime land. It was arguably a much better use than, say, a development of 100 houses. In some alternate timeline exists the campground I wanted to put on part of the land while conserving the rest.

Hate your job? It’s not forever. Broke? It’s not forever. Stuck with a crazy marriage? It’s not forever. Bad day at work? Tomorrow will be another day. Hate who’s in office? Unless you wanted enough of a revolution to change the constitution and elect a dictator, such a popular move on the part of dupes around the world, there will be another election down the road.

It’s not always easy, even if you know this. When you’re young, you don’t. It’s all urgent. Of course, you are also helping to drive, so you can make change happen if it needs, or make things more or less bearable while you wait. It can be hard to remember that reality as we experience it is a construct in which we all have a hand.

It has seemed a long time already, and a short time, but in six short years my youngest will be at the end of high school. That’s no time! I’ve held the same job for almost ten and a half years. That’s probably absurd, but during much of that it was arguably the best option. It’s not necessarily now. Even if I don’t actively seek to change it, it’s not forever. If I really had to, even without having identified what I want to do when I grow up,* I could find something to replace it and possibly improve on it.

Please be patient with your life, as the Bee Gees might say.

* There are things I did over the years that are now “my heyday” that I would never have expected to be the high points of my life or career. It makes me wonder if this happened to people like my grandfather, with his stories of being a supervisor at shoe factories. Did he figure there’d be more, or was that just fine and he never regretted that being all there was? Makes me wonder.

When the Pedestal Goes Away

Original title was Shower Thoughts, but since that’s the name of a site or whatever, I figured I’d go with the other one. It is, however, where I had the train of thoughts.

I ended up thinking about what it must be like to be a celebrity and to need or want to protect your safety and privacy. Rebecca Schaeffer came to mind. It must be especially weird when you aren’t a big name, but are nonetheless a name to some.

Melody was essentially a commercial flop, as delightful and well made as it is, and was saved from complete obscurity and financial ruin for the production company’s first film by runaway success and a favorable distribution deal in Japan. So the film was always huge in Japan and a few minor markets, so Tracy Hyde, not already a big name like Mark Lester and Jack Wild, was an idol regionally. She went on to do some other roles through her twenties, but nothing huge. Melody went on to become, increasingly to this day, a cult classic.

Thinking of her life was a trigger to this. You’ve been moderately famous. You’re not hugely sought after, but in some circles there’s still demand. You were paid fairly modest amounts for the roles you did. Now you have to cope with staying private, the possibility of being stalked, the possibility of being more in demand by fans than you’d prefer. Perhaps paid appearances now and then are a boon, but it’s not the same as having been on a series that gets you steady employment as a convention guest for decades. You have a life.

That made me think of Keanu Reeves, who is an amazing human being, quietly humble, charitable, and an ordinary guy. He reportedly simply goes ahead and rubs shoulders with everyone, riding the subway and so forth. Reading about him makes you want to be more like him. He’s just a guy, who just happens to act for a living. Perhaps we ought to see actors more like that.

All of this, which took far less time to think about in the quick shower before work than it takes to write and expand slightly upon, reminded me of my revelation of the past few years (it’s been around five or so since the provocation and probably between 3 and 4 or so since I worked this out) that I have tended to put people on pedestals in my life. I make them, in my mind, something they can’t ever be. I did this to my friend Zack, but never to my friend Frank. Two very different people met at two different times. If anything, I was the one on Frank’s pedestal, but not the same problematic way.

Being seen by me as falling off the pedestal, or not having belonged there in the first place, was messy. The mess was made and can never be unmade, but I made the breakthrough of recognizing that Frank Zack is and always was just a guy. A good guy. A guy with strengths and foibles like any of us. Which gives me an inverse thought I should address, if not in this post. (Typed the wrong name, though the same applies. Or did, since Frank died several years ago.)

I generally did the same with girls. Those I crushed on, anyway. But if I saw things I didn’t like, that already created cognitive dissonance. Anyway, the more the pedestal, the more difficult for me to see her as approachable and act accordingly. If the wasn’t a pedestal, or it was countered too greatly, I’d go the other way, and be talking myself out of it. I recognized the pedestal problem with girls before I ever recognized the harm it had done to that friendship over the decades, and before I ever saw Zack once and for all as a mere mortal. And figured out that being a mere mortal in not a bad thing!

This also made me think about the way I have always looked at authority figures, which includes teachers/professors and bosses. I have no idea how I developed it. It has to go back to an extremely young age or be somehow inherent to me. I always had a fear of authority figures. I was the last kid who would ever have gotten in trouble with the police. I had no dealings with them. Yet they terrified me.

With bosses, I would either be afraid of them or, if I saw them as stupid or incompetent, not take them seriously at all. Neither thing works very well. Usually they are just people doing a job, and have strengths and weaknesses. Usually they are not in fact out to get you, and do not want you to fail. That’s the opposite of what they’d be after. Duh. Arguably this also intersected unhealthily with my perfectionism problem. Forget bosses. I never thought did a good enough job at anything. Except sometimes I knew I was great, and it would be times like that when I’d know a boss was stupid for not realizing it. Then I’d not take them seriously, rather than being afraid of them. Seldom have I ever realized later that I wasn’t as good as I thought, in those cases. Usually, though, I assume I am awful unless regularly and vehemently told otherwise. I’ve gotten better about this. Assuming you don’t take the state of my employment as an indication that, no, I have not, which could be. If you’re awful, who would hire you, and why would you go trying to get a job you can do better than most people that you’re sure you can’t possibly do as well as they’d expect? Why go there? So maybe not.

But I digress. I know I always do, but these are topics neither thought of in the shower nor contemplated for inclusion when I thought of writing this.

I think my point was to compare my realization about my friends just being people, and girls just being people even if they give me elusive butterflies, to the fact that celebrities are just people. People who sometimes need or want to cope with the potential problem of other people not seeing them as such. Of course, fame can be a rush. I’ve had a minor form of it in the past. It really was kind of a kick. So maybe that’s the price of that rush, but you’re still just people. If you were a kid when the fame started, maybe it’s nothing you ever sought or could have known the price of before you started paying.