So there I was, dozing on a late flight from Chicago to Vermont, my arm dangling down next to my seat. Next thing you know, I’ve sleepily grabbed the shoe of the guy behind me and am trying (in my not-quite-half-awake stupor) to figure out what it is. Thank God he pulled it back abruptly and said nothing.
Strangest thing I’ve seen all week: a few dozen Buddhist monks doing the University of Georgia “Calling the Dawgs” cheer. Given that previously undefeated Georgia promptly got curb-stomped by Auburn today, I think it’s safe to say Buddha was not amused.
Lots and lots and lots of stuff has happened to the Furr family in 2017 -- and by Furr family, I guess I should say "Jay and Carole Furr" since the larger Furr family kind of blew up last year when my father died in March (Mom had already died, back in 2011). And we haven't really posted about much of any of it, not in any organized fashion.
I doubt that anyone really cares, since unused, cobweb-covered personal blogs are a dime a dozen, but once in a while I feel kind of guilty and think "I should post something". So here goes: 2017 as it's happened to us.
- We went to Hawaii for two weeks in February -- one week on board a cruise ship out of Oahu, stopping off at the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, and ending back up in Oahu, and three days before and after just bumming around Oahu. We had a fantastic time, more or less.
- Carole's mom Anne Stoops passed away in June after a long illness. That leaves only one of our four parents alive: Carole's dad Glenn. May he live for many, many more years.
- Carole started a new job in August at the Burlington Housing Authority as a staff accountant. Carole has had a lot of jobs over the years, but this seems like the best fit for her in quite some time.
- Carole has long wanted to learn to cook, but has always been terrified of hot ovens and complicated recipes and so forth. So, she signed up for the Blue Apron program, where they send you all the ingredients and detailed instructions for two or three meals a week and there are all sorts of tips and tricks and technique videos on their website to refer to if you need them. I've helped on some recipes, but she's been making fantastic progress, mostly on her own, just by dutifully following the recipes. It's turned out to be a lot more cost effective than eating in restaurants, too, and we can't really recall any of the meals we've been sent turning out less than "pretty good". Most have been "great".
- In August, we went to Kentucky for the 2017 solar eclipse. Saw it from the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site near Hopkinsville. The eclipse was stunning. The 12 hours of traffic getting from Hopkinsville back to Carole's dad's house in Dayton, Ohio was less so.
- I turned 50 in September. Carole bought me a cake and that was pretty much it as far as observances went. I guess not having any friends who live in the area would have made having any kind of party in honor of the big 5-0 difficult.
- We lost our beloved tortoiseshell cat, Starlight (aka "Torbie") to complications from bladder cancer and Carole was absolutely devastated. I wasn't exactly turning cartwheels either, but Torbie had basically been Carole's personal cat for 15 years, sleeping on her chest most nights and so on.
- We adopted a new cat, Maggie, a couple of weeks after we lost Starlight. Carole just felt that the niche in her life earmarked for "tortoiseshell cat" should not be left empty for any sizeable length of time, and instead of doggedly watching the local Humane Society's web page for new kittens, we wound up driving all the way down to the New Paltz/Poughkeepsie, NY vicinity to adopt a cat from a local adoption nonprofit down there. Maggie is a sweet little kitten and Carole has taken to her like a duck to water.
- We've both been dealing with estate stuff. Even though my dad passed away a year and a half ago, stuff relating to the sale of the house in Florida is still ongoing, and one of these days it'll be done, but don't ask me when. Carole's mom left some money directly to her and so she's got all sorts of tax implications and 401(k) rollovers and so forth to process. I knew losing one's parent(s) is stressful, but I guess I was naive about exactly why.
- This past weekend I walked in the 2017 Atlanta Susan G Komen 3-Day. I raised, thanks to generous friends and co-workers, $2,600. This was my 17th walk as a walker and 27th walk overall. I had a bad time the first day because I'd reflexively taken my metoprolol blood pressure medication in the morning and forgotten how it really impacts any kind of physical activity. Big-time fatigue. That night I found out that a close co-worker had passed away from a massive heart attack, and on Day 2 I was a complete wreck. I managed Day 3 just fine, but I've got some blisters from heck as a result of all those Atlanta hills.
- On kind of a less date-specific basis, I've been dealing with some pretty bad clinical depression. I'm seemingly out of the worst of it at this point, but earlier in the year I felt so bad that I shut down my Facebook and Twitter accounts and started apologizing to people for existing. Fortunately, it didn't negatively affect my work; I'm too pre-programmed for that. But in many other respects, I just turned into a zombie. I'm sorry for being a drag to those of you who got to witness the whole mess.
I wanted to drop you a note to thank you for all the support you’ve given me — and the Susan G Komen Foundation — over the last 10 years. When I started taking part in the Breast Cancer 3-Day back in 2008, I had no idea whether this would be a one-year thing for me or whether I’d still be walking many years later. Obviously, I would have been delighted had some scientist looked up from a Petri dish at some point and gone “EUREKA!” … but unfortunately, movies and television aside, science doesn’t really work like that!
In ten years I’ve walked in sixteen Susan G. Komen 3-Day walks and crewed in ten others. This coming weekend, in Atlanta, I’ll walk in my seventeenth. You can follow me at http://www.twitter.com/jayfurr, if you wish.
In these ten years, thanks to you, I’ve raised somewhere on the order of $47,740. In other words, I’m coming up on $50,000 in ten years, which is a pretty amazing number and which I owe entirely to the generosity of friends and family and co-workers like yourselves. I know that everyone has priorities of their own and I’m so grateful that you’ve taken the time to support mine. We have made progress in the fight against breast cancer over the last ten years… but at the same time, we continue to lose those close to us. I’ve lost friends. I know some of you have also — friends, family members, loved ones. We all know the toll cancer can take.
I can never thank you enough for all your support and caring.
P.S. If you know of anyone who might also want to sponsor me, my donation link is http://www.the3day.org/goto/jayfurr.
P.P.S. Seriously. Thank you!
Friends of the Sea Otter, a California non-profit that works to protect endangered sea otter populations, is selling “Sea Otter Awareness Week 2017” t-shirts to raise funds.
Get yours here: https://www.bonfire.com/friends-of-the-seas-campaign/
In October I’ll be taking part in the Komen 3-Day again (this time in Atlanta); this will be my 17th walk and my 25th event overall in the ten years I’ve been taking part. I’ve got the usual $2,300 to raise in order to take part. I’d be grateful to anyone who would be willing to sponsor me and help in the fight against breast cancer.
My donation URL is http://www.the3day.org/goto/jayfurr. Thanks so much for any support you can lend.
I apologize to everyone for being a tiresomely annoying, self-centered, whiny, attention-whoring, angry, malicious jerk.
I wish I could make amends to everyone I’ve harmed.
Since I can’t, I am planning on more-or-less permanently deactivating all my social media accounts.
If, in the short term, you would like a personal apology, let me know. It’s always hard to know if a personal attempt at amends will actually make things worse, and that’s the last thing I want to do.
My mental illness takes the form of severe depression mixed with PTSD.
My depression is partly due to heredity and partly due to environment. It’s the nature of the thing that it’s sometimes hard to draw a fine line between the two.
My maternal grandmother was institutionalized in Florida off and on for much of her life; she died when I was five and I have literally no recollection of ever having met her. From what I understand, mostly she had severe depression — I’ve never gotten a detailed writeup confirming whether she also had schizophrenic tendencies, bipolar, or anything else. People agree about the depression, though. In any event, as I said, I can’t recall having met her, but genes are genes.
On the other side of my family tree, my father had severe depression that went undiagnosed and untreated; every year on his birthday and on Father’s Day he’d get his nose out of joint because we didn’t pay him enough respect and attention and he’d go climb into bed in the middle of the day and either sulk or mope, depending on your interpretation of things. He rarely interacted with others socially; generally, he’d come home, eat dinner, and then sit in a chair and read all evening. God help us if we bothered him.
He was a very emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive man who seemed pathologically afraid of giving any of his children a compliment and for whom the ultimate accusation was “You did that to get attention!” If I asked a question at a science museum, I could count on being cursed once out of earshot of the docent for “having tried to get attention”. If I got all wound up and hyper during a third grade play, you bet Dad spent the whole trip home reading me the riot act for “just doing that to get attention”. I spent my high school years going hungry when the family went out to dinner because, regardless of what I ordered, Dad would snarl that I was just ordering it to be stupid, to show off, to get attention. Finally I just stopped ordering and sat there hungry while others ate.
As for the physical part of the abuse — well, I’ll spare you the details, but I got kicked, beaten, thrown around, and more, just basically for doing the kind of things that kids routinely do. I tended to stay in my room and pray that when I heard his footsteps coming down the hall that they wouldn’t stop in front of my door. I spent quite a few high school nights running a few miles from our house in the woods outside Blacksburg to a friend’s house three miles away. That is, until I finally drew a knife on him in self defense; he went absolutely ballistic, called the police, and wanted them to put me under the jail; how dare I raise a hand to him? (They talked him down; apparently they realized at a glance what they were dealing with.)
I mention all this, not because a strange whimsy seized hold of me and said “tell the whole world about your abusive father, now that he’s been dead for a year and can’t rebut” but rather because it might help explain why I am the way I am.
I have PTSD-style reactions to anger and violence. I want to go crawl into a hole and pull it in after me, especially if the person yelling is a family member.
As for depression — I have mad self-loathing skillz.
I look at everything I do from a standpoint of “oh, God, I just did that to get attention, didn’t I?” What makes that especially bad is that I’m naturally silly and extroverted, but every time I say or do something silly in front of others, I then spend a healthy chunk of time feeling hideously embarrassed, certain that they must have thought “what a pathetic loser.”
I post things to Facebook, and then, a day or so later, tiptoe back onto the site and delete them. There’s a voice inside me so full of loathing: “you just want attention, that’s why you shared that, isn’t it?” Take a look at my Facebook profile, if you like. That’s not the result of one day’s mad deleting; nothing, really, stays on my page for very long before, cringing, I sneak back in and take it down. I assume that anyone who did see whatever it was that I shared probably had the same reaction: “how pathetic.”
There’s a part of me that likes to occasionally send strange, out-of-the-blue gifts to
friendsacquaintances (note: I am terrified of calling someone my friend only to have them quickly and firmly correct me) just because I like to imagine their reaction when they open the package and find, oh, a “Unicorns Are Jerks” coloring book. But then, there’s the other part of me that knows, perfectly well, why I do it: I want attention.
I was raised from birth to believe that attention-seeking is an absolutely shameful thing, and yet, like any sane human, I want attention. I am sickened and revolted by the things I do to try to get attention, even if to another person they might seem perfectly ordinary.
I work as a technical trainer for a large corporation. I spend a huge percentage of my time speaking to and working with medium to large groups of people on complicated and convoluted software and system issues relating to the hospital and physician financial flow. I’m apparently somewhat good at it. But for some broken reason, I gain very little self esteem from being good at my job. Perhaps it’s because my brain is just mis-wired. Perhaps it’s my father’s voice in the back of my mind, reminding me that enjoying attention, deserved or otherwise, is disgusting, and pathetic, and contemptible.
Either way, though — I’m sorry. I’m sorry for those of you who have to put up with my dysfunction and my self-flagellation and everything that goes along with them. I don’t know which is more annoying: pathetic attention-seeking followed by pathetic attention-seeking, or pathetic attention seeking followed by public self-loathing. But either way, in case you were wondering: yes, I know I’m incredibly annoying. I wish I’d go away too.