Stupid Sleep Apnea: CPAP Panic.

Last night I had my second sleep study for sleep apnea. This is the one where they put the vader mask on your face and shoot air down your throat. Needless to say it was as horrible as it sounds.

Lung problems run in my family. My grandfather had COPD. My mother had sleep apnea, my brother too. In addition to apnea, I also have asthma. I’m happy to say that my asthma isn’t as bad as it used to be, but i still carry around a rescue inhaler in case of emergency. The sleep tech thinks that I have had apnea since a young age because it is so bad at this point. He called it “old man apnea.”

The test was an ordeal, and I wonder if I will be able to handle the machine. Bascially, a masked is sealed onto your face, a tube forces compressed air into your airway, keeping it open. the thing is that the pressure is very strong, and it takes quite the effort to exhale. It feels like you are being strangled at first, even though you aren’t.

The first 5 minutes are the worst. I said to the tech, “it feels like I’m choking.” He said “don’t worry, I got ya. all your levels are normal, your heart rate is fine, blood oxygen is fine. Your brain is always trying to protect your airflow, so it is making you panic. Just keep telling yourself that you’re not choking, and you’ll be fine.”

So that’s what I did. I sat on the bed and watched RAW (a pretty lame episode, although I did like Ryback’s monologue, it actually made sense) and tried to calm myself.

It didn’t work.

While I did eventually adjust to the pressure, it took 3 hours before I fell asleep. In those three hours, I walked through a shadow of terror and self-loathing. I despaired at being 36 and needing a ventilator-lite to survive. I felt like I was old and dying, that the meat of my life was past me and I only had bones left to gnaw on. Worst of all, when I pictured myself on the bed with that thing pumping air down my throat, I kept drifting back to Valerie and those last days in the hospital. The worst moments of my life revisited over and over. Is that what I have to look forward to? It’s not bad enough that I think about her every waking moment, are the sleeping moments taken too?

I slept for about 4 hours, and I did wake refreshed. I’ve been very productive today as well, so maybe there is something to this treatment. It’s on me, I suppose. I am the one that has to adjust. But I wonder why I bother. What do I have to look forward to anyway? My best days are behind me. I knew that even before they hooked a tube to my throat.

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Remember to read and to VOTE+ for “The Watchmage of Old New York” I’m almost in the Top 10. YOu can vote once per chapter, so get to it. There’s a whole city of sparkly shit counting on you.

Wrestling With God

It was a month since Valerie died on the 24th. It feels like so much longer, like I’ve lived ten empty, soulless years since losing her. Every day, every minute, every instance drags on forever. Everything reminds me of her, not the obvious things like her action figure collection or the poem that I taped to my wall, but little things. I took out the garbage earlier, and I passed by where she parked on her last visit. It was the spot of our last kiss. I knew that I was kissing her goodbye, but I didn’t think that it was forever.

What kind of God would do this?  What kind of monster would snuff someone so wonderful, and do it in her prime?
People tell me that it is all part of God’s plan.  God’s plan?  Plan for what?  What makes anyone think that it’s a good plan?  Look at all the suffering in the world.  If God is omnipotent, then why does he have to kill, unless he WANTS to?

So what’s the deal?  Either God isn’t good, or God isn’t omnipotent.  Or maybe God doesn’t exist.

I don’t know.

Against my better judgement, I choose to believe in God.  I do this only because the thought of never seeing Valerie again, (or my Mom, gramma, grampa, etc) is too much for me to bear.  I have to believe, because the belief that she is still with me is all that keeps me going.  I don’t care if I am deluding myself, the delusion is better than reality.

But then WHY?  Why do you kill?  Why do you cause pain?  If you are all powerful, why do you allow these things?

Maybe God isn’t all powerful.  Maybe there is evil out there just as powerful.  This appeals to the fantasy writer in me, an epic battle between good and evil with the Earth at stake.  But being appealing doesn’t make it real

Maybe this is Hell.  We’ve already lived horrible lives and died, and our existance here is punishment for the life that we led.  That explains the massive amount of pain and suffering in the world.  We all deserve it, because we are bad people.

Maybe God only watches, but doesn’t step in.  Cold and unfeeling, he looks us over like someone watching the History Channel, caring nothing for the people involved.

The thing is, none of else will ever know.  The only “proof” is “faith” and they are not the same thing.

I do know that I’ve been calling out God for weeks now, but he won’t get in the ring.

Oh, Batman, you wacky crime fighter, you

I inherited all of Valerie’s action figures.  She had many of them, and she would pose them in compromising positions, because what else do you do with action figures. (Besides Gay Action Figure Theater)
my shelf is now filled with action figures, and yes, they are all doing naughty naughty things.  My favorite combo is Obi-wan Kenobi fisting Harry Potter, but equally entertaining is Batman and Bane taggin up on The Joker.

This, of course, reminds me of The Dark Knight Rises, which pissed me off to no end.

I could go on forever about how terrible the movie was, but that’s not what this is about.  This is about Val.

We saw that awful movie together, and afterwards, we talked about it.  I was much more critical of it than Val, who was generally nonjudgemental.  We decided to go home and write stories based on what happened to Batman after the movie.  I wrote “Masked Man Works at Shop-Rite,” which was eventually published.

Valerie wrote this work of brilliance, “The Dark Knight Upsells.”  I’ll let it speak for itself 🙂

Val loved to write fan fiction.  I’ve been looking at fanfic sites on line, and she has stuff on all of them.  She wrote for the sheer joy of writing.  I wish that I could be like that, but I can so caught up in trying to make a living as a writer that I only write things that I can sell.  She never worried about that.  I mean, yes, she was a professor too and I am not, but even then, she didn’t have the drive to publish and promote that I do.  This is just one of a million reason why she was a better person than me.  Not that I’m a bad guy, she’s just better.

Speaking of only writing things that I can sell, Chapter 6 of “The Watchmage of New York” is ready at Jukepop Serials, and it’s still on the Editor’s Picks list.  If you haven’t checked out my serial yet, you really should.  It’s good, one of the best things that I’ve ever written (and I’ve written some very good stuff).  You have to register to get beyond chapter 1, but its free registration.  If you love webfiction, fantasy, mysteries, and demand historical accuracy next to your trolls and pixies, Watchmage is the way to go.

If you do go to read it, please VOTE for it (at the bottom) and share it with other people (on facebook, twitter, your blog, etc).  I hate to ask all the time, but this is my job, and if you don’t promote, you perish.  You have to be shameless.

Also, if you want to add me on facebook or twitter (CraigASanders), you can do that too.  (Just message me when you add me on facebook, so I know that you’re not a scam).

(Valentine’s Day is Killing Me) A Poem From Val

It has been 21 days since Valerie died. 23 days since that horrible evening when I found her. 22 days since the doctor told us that she had no brain activity. I count every day, every minute, every moment without her, as if my counting will somehow bring her back.

It won’t.

I wanted to share a poem that Val wrote for me early on in our relationship.  I think that it was about 4 or 5 months in.  She made a greeting card for me, and she taped little things, inside jokes or moments we shared together.  Little instances that only I would understand the significance of.

And then she wrote this poem:

The way that you treat me

Makes me want to give you more.

So I made a homemade greeting card,

Because I’m kind of poor.

Thank you for all the kisses,

All the hug invitations,

All the times you made me laugh,

And the long conversations.

Thank you for making me smile

Whereever we went.

Thank you for being the world’s best

Antidepressant.

All I ask of you

Is to tell me what you need,

So I can work hard to make you

As happy as you’ve made me.

Gay Action Figure Theater (NSFW)

As I’ve mentioned here before (I think), Valerie used to collect action figures.  Sometimes she would pose them in naughty positions, but hey, who didn’t?  I inherited her action figures, and as a tribute to her, they are all making sweet sweet love down by the metaphorical fire.

She also made this incredible youtube series using her action figures called “Gay Action Figure Theater.”  It’s stars Buffy, Rogue, My Chemical Romance, Pete Wentz, Batman, and Oscar Wilde, among others.  Not only is it brilliantly witty and charming, it does a pretty good job of capturing who Valerie was (especially the rant at the end of part 2).

I love this so much and I wanted to share it with you.  Feel free to share it with the ones you love too.  And hug them, don’t forget to hug them.

 

I was just thinking about…

About how Valerie and I would sometimes have “working dates,” where I could sit on her couch, typing away at my latest story or editing my novel. She would sit and work at her desk (she always worked at her desk) with Rancid or The Transplants or any one of the millions of Tim Armstrong projects pumping his frantic mumbling into the airwaves.  Valerie loved to work.  She loved to be doing something, anything.  We both found comfort in our work and in each other.

There is a reason why this is so extraordinary:  I don’t like people.  What I mean is that when there are people around me, it raises my stress levels.  At times it has caused panic attacks, though this is usually associated with a bipolar cycle.  It is very hard for me to be in public.  I often have vomiting fits from being around too many people.  I usually put on a persona–a super-nice, polite guy who isn’t me at all–in order to survive.  Of course, people like the super-nice me better than the real me.

There are only a few people that do not trigger this reaction.  My brother, Scott, is one, I’ve had a lifetime with him.  Some of my friends from college (Like Osvaldo) are others, but it took a long time to feel that way.  The same with my college girlfriend, Jolene.

Valerie was the only one where I felt that way immediately.  She made me feel so comfortable, she became a part of who I am so quickly and completely.  It was like she was always there, and I didn’t know it until I met her.

Damn, I am crying again.

Switching to a more postivie topic, Chapter Four of The Watchmage of Old New York is up and running at Jukepop Serials.  I suggest that you read it, vote for it (you have to register, but that takes half a minute) and share it with your geekier friends.  You can vote once for each chapter, which means that right now each of you can give me 4 votes.  The votes are what keep the serial alive, and if I get enough, I can get bonus money.  To a starving artist like me, that bonus money means that I can buy new pants…I really need new pants.

Rest in Peace, My Valerie (1977-2013)

I buried my soul mate yesterday.

Last Tuesday (Jan 22), I went up to Binghamton to visit Val.  She was up there to begin her PhD candidacy in English.  I climbed the stairs to the back door and knocked.  I looked through the screen, and she was on the floor.  I don’t think that Val would want me to tell the final details of her life to strangers, so I will refrain.

Val was pronounced brain dead Thursday morning.  She died that evening.  She was my world.  She was the most brilliant, caring, gifted, loving, person that I will ever know.  Her writing is some of the best that I have ever read.  I only wish that I could write like her.

Her obituary is here.  Her website is here.

If you read my blog, you know how much I love her.  We just celebrated our anniversary.  I went to her mom’s for Christian Christmas (as opposed to my usual, Jewish Christmas.  We just didn’t have enough time together.

I want to tell you all about her.  I want people to know and love her the way that I love her, the way that she deserves to be loved.

This is what I told the Binghamton reporter that is writing her memorial:

She was about as warm and giving a person could be.  She cared very deeply about her students and would always go the extra mile for them.  Her favorite writer was Oscar Wilde, and I am sure that she could go wit for wit with him and come out the victor.  On her wall there was a picture of Oscar Wilde next to a picture of Malcom X.  I asked her about it once, and she said “I’d like to think that they are lovers in Heaven.”
Val loved so many things:  Joss Whedon (especially Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Rancid (for the past year she has been keeping a tongue-in-cheek photo journal updating the status of Tim Armstrong’s epic beard.  That was just her sense of humor), action figures (she had a massive collection of action figures, she would sometimes use them as writing prompts for students, but mostly they just hung around the house).  She loved to write, she was constantly writing, but even more than that, she loved to teach.  She loved the Oxford Comma, if you could love punctuation.  She had a passionate affair with Semicolons.

She was a strong woman: independent but not distant, tough but not hard, witty but not cruel.  She was brilliant, the most intelligent person that I have ever met.  She loved Grammar.  She was very excited to be taking a Grad level Grammar class at Binghamton.  She felt a great sadness for people that couldn’t use “there, their, and they’re” properly.

Her writing was incredible.  When we first started dating, I asked what she wrote.  She said something like “I do mostly short stories, mostly humorous, but when you say you write humor people think you write bad stand-up or something. I love the type of short story that can make you laugh and feel sad within like five pages so that’s what I try for.” 
If you read some of her writing (on her website), you will see that she succeeded everytime.
 
If you would like, I can recommend some of my favorite stories. 
 
I don’t know what else I can say.  She was the most perfect person that ever walked the face of this Earth.  She was too perfect, too gifted, too gentle and loving for us.  I would say that she was ahead of her time, but Time will never catch up to her.
This is what I said, but there was so much more to her.  She wrote erotic fan fic  as a hobby, and helped form an entire community for it.  Her frank talk and writing about mental illness was inspirational and life saving for many people.
On our first date, she gave me a toy for my turtle.  Who does that?  Who is that thoughtful?  Val was.  On our second date, I spilled an entire move-sized diet coke in her lap, and she didn’t walk out on me.  On the contrary, after the movie, she still made out with me.
She did all of this, but I knew that she was the One when I first walked into her apartment, and there was a giant Godzilla doll on her refrigerator.
I am concerned with her legacy.  I want the whole world to know how gifted a writer she was.  I want her name immortalized the way that it should be.  She was everything that I could ever want, or want to be.
I love you so much, Valerie.  I will love you forever.
The two of us, late December, 2012

The two of us, late December, 2012

One Year Ago, Today

One year ago, today, my life changed forever.

I went on a date with a girl that I had been talking to online.  We met at an Italian resturant named Capri.  As I pulled up in my car, I saw a girl leaning against a pillar, smoking a cigarette.  I though Hey, if this date doesn’t work out, I can go hit on her.

It turned out that she was my date.  We went inside.  I ordered chicken marsala, she ordered chicken francaise.  I’m not sure, but that may have triggered the infamous “French Style” story (I might have saved that for another date.  I hope so, that is not a first date story).

I will never, ever, share the “french style” story on this blog. You’ll just have to ask me in person . . . if you dare

Afterwards, we went to get Starbucks because neither of us wanted the date to end.  The barrister had a giant beard, and I complimented him on it.  I called him my “brother of the beard.”  I was trying to impress her by being all friendly and social (which I am decidedly not)

Not quite this epic

We talked for a long time, and when the date was over, I gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

the pasta was delicious, by the way

It was the best date that I had ever gone on where I didn’t get laid.

One year later, Valerie and I are still together.  I can’t believe that she puts up with me;  lord knows I wouldn’t.

Baby, I love you so much that it makes me nauseous.  Here’s to forever!