Tag Archives: sad things

R.I.P Bando

I remember when we first brought Bando home. The whole Bandology team had gone out to shop, and I had resolved to get a fish (after having “given up” bettas several years before). I had him in his cup on the drive home as we pondered a name. “How about Bando,” I said, “after the project.”

When we first got him set up in his tank, he clamped his fins and dashed behind a fake plant to hide. However, his timidity was short-lived. As soon as he caught sight of Joe’s black winter coat hanging up nearby, Bando went on a flaring rampage. He flared at the coat for so long and with such vigor that I was worried he would exhaust himself, and put a piece of paper on that side of the tank so he couldn’t see it anymore. Thus began Bando’s trademark hate of anything the color black. We tried to make him a progressive fish, but it just didn’t work.

Bando was a tough little fish, and unlike previous bettas I have owned, he was not a picky eater at all. He’d gobble up anything dropped into his tank, including a piece of popcorn that fell in there by accident once. He attacked it, ripped off a little piece, and ate it right up! All the same, frozen brine shrimp were probably his favorite treat. I fed them to him out of an eye dropper, and he would bite the end and suck them all out at once!

When I went on my internship at Insomniac, Bando spent his summer at Schell Games, winning the heart of Brian Evans. Bando loved Brian, and frequently did his happy dance every time he approached later in the year.

However, the true love of Bando’s life was Tracy Brown. The first time Bando built a serious bubble nest was for Tracy, and he was all flirting and dancing whenever she approached. That’s another difference between Bando and my previous bettas: he was teeerrrible at building bubble nests! He’d try now and then, but they’d always fall right apart, until there were all kinds of stray bubbles floating about the tank. But for Tracy, he always put in top effort!

Moving from the ETC to Schell Games and back several times, I discovered that Bando was very low-stress about being moved. He just shrugged it off, as well as a fish can shrug. Thus, I was confident that he could make the trip across the country to California. He rode out with Josh and I in a travel mug, sitting in the cup holder of the car, and residing in his one-gallon tank at nights to rest. When he got settled back into his big tank at Insomniac, he was happy to go on patrol and make sure all the decorations in the tank were keeping in line.

My desk at Insomniac was a brighter place with Bando around (both literally and figuratively), and he was happy to swim up to say hello to anyone who approached his tank. He loved that he could see me out of one side of the tank and Josh out of the other, and spent most of his time swimming about, resting in his cave, or defending his territory from the dreaded Mirror Fish.

Bando has been an enriching part of my life, and I will sincerely miss him. I am very sad, but I am happy that his suffering from dropsy is over. Goodbye, Bando, you were a good fish!

Home and Back Again

Whew, what a week! Those of you who read my twitter know that last Monday I dropped everything and drove home to Louisville, as my grandfather was in the hospital. He has pulmonary fibrosis, which is basically irreversible scarring of the lungs, and as such cannot so much as sit up in bed without a critical drop in his oxygen levels.

Thus began a typical week of having a loved one with a terminal condition in the hospital, which means I did a lot of dish-washing, laundry, litter-box-cleaning, and brought lunch to my family at the hospital almost every day. Basically, I tried to do everything I could to keep my parents sane. My mom said that just being there helped loads, which I believed, as my extended family converged on the hospital every day throughout the day to be there in support of my grandparents.

My grandfather was in a very bad way on Monday night when I got in, but stabilized as the week went on. He’s doing a lot better now, as far as being able to talk with people and such, but still has no oxygen reserve. The goal at the end of the week was to work with the respiratory therapists to get his oxygen intake down to 10 liters (he was on 15, which is too high for him to be able to go home, which is what he wants) and Hospice is involved to try and make things as comfortable as possible. The condition is terminal, but that could mean days, weeks, months…no one really knows at this point, but my grandfather seems to have no intention of going anywhere but home right now 🙂

The rest of my family is hanging in there, but very tired, especially since any sort of family crisis seems to squeeze out all reserves of drama or family-craziness into the open. I’ve been a sounding board to the frustrations of family members as much as anything else. It all helps.

So, I want to thank the ballers, especially Scott and Maria, for taking care of me this week while I was taking care of my family. It really meant a lot to me, and really helped me deal with the situation. I love you guys!! <3 <3 <3


The cello will be my downfall! At work, the school’s bell choir often practices in the foyer outside my office. This is all fine and well, but today they had a girl playing the cello with them. For some reason, the cello pulls and tugs at me and makes me want to cry the way no other sound does. It is tugging things loose.

You see, when I started taking this medicine, I stopped crying. I am guessing this is because my medicine is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, meaning that in addition to managing my pain threshold it has the bonus side-effect of also being an anti-depressant. Last year, when Nancy got sick, I started crying on a pretty regular basis. When she died I began crying pretty much every day. When I started on the medicine, it suddenly stopped, and it was rather jolting.

However, I don’t think I’m done grieving. It is similar to how the medicine works on my pain: I can still tell that something is not right, that the pain is still there just below the surface, I just can’t feel it. Similarly, I feel like my grief is still there, just below, being numbed out by neurotransmitters. And, just as drastic shifts in barometric pressure strip the numbing layer off my pain threshold, some things open up the emotional haze like a seam-ripper.

That brings us back to the cello. Still, it fascinates me how tone and sound can evoke such strong and specific emotional responses. Sound is a mystery to me, something I can’t grasp the way I can drawing and painting. It is always so sharp, too. My exposure to the cello is pretty low, I’d say (except when I was questing in the damned blood elf land with its damned blood elf music. I was teary-eyed through the whole zone!), so it always surprises me how strong I react to it. And it’s a very specific tone, too. The bass is too low and the other strings too high to make me weepy.



Every year at the school I work at they have a Thanksgiving prayer service. Everyone writes letters to people thanking them for something and some of the students and teachers read their letters at the prayer service. This year one of the seniors read a letter to her mom, who is dying of cancer right now. It was very difficult for me to listen to.

In fact, I didn’t want to go to the service at all, because I knew she would be reading it and I knew it would be hard. Will told me that it might be good for me, but that it would also be pretty rough to listen to. I responded that I wish the things that were good for me didn’t always involve roughing me around. He said that if I didn’t need to be roughed around, then it wouldn’t rough me around. I hadn’t thought of it in that light before.

Grieving is awful. Even the word “grieve” is a horrible sounding word. It sounds like the name of a damage-over-time spell that a warlock would cast on you. But I suppose the sound of the word is the most accurate means of describing what it even feels like. There are times when I feel like the lining of my throat, the inside of my chest, and the coating of my nerves will be grated away to nothing before the end of it. I know, though, because people have told me, that it doesn’t ever really end, it just changes into something different. I know because they’ve told me, but I don’t really know yet.

When all my weird physical pain stuff showed no signs of going away, and when I decided that it’s just going to be something I’ll learn to deal with, my Soke told me that one of the easiest ways to cultivate happiness is to start giving open thanks for the things I have. The tiniest things, here or there, or the big things, just on the spot when I happen to notice them be thankful for them. It helps to actively do this, rather than fret and worry because I know I’m taking so much for granted, which is what I tend to do. My boss at work is one of those people of the mindset that time is a human constraint, and that God is timeless, so it doesn’t matter what you pray for and when, even if it’s after the fact, because there is no time in the end. I suppose in that line of thinking it is not “too late” to say thank you to somebody after they’ve already died.

Continue reading Thanksgiving


I stopped by the cemetery this evening to see Nancy, for Mother’s Day.

Slipping through the halls of the mausoleum to find her place was like walking through some invisible emotional shell flayer, and I cried for a long time when I got there. Chris and Rachel must have visited that day as well, because there were two bouquets there.

I guess that’s the sort of thing that shows you that you’re not healed yet.

I am wondering and worrying a bit if I am healing correctly, and if I should be doing something differently, or something extra, to help myself along.

Anyone in need of aquarium tenant?

I was building up to write a big long post about Nancy sometime after her death, and with my grandmother’s death so shortly afterwards, it seems unusual and possibly callous to post about a fish. Oh well.

McKinley, the betta that Ken gave me as a Christmas present to cheer me after Mr. Laguna’s death, has died today. He was the last in a long chain of fish deaths over the past few months. I am mostly sad that I had him such a short time, I feel like it’s some lack in mothering skills that led to his short life span, but perhaps that’s being unfair.

I am taking a break from fish-keeping. As much as I am delighted by bettas, I need a pet with a little longer of a maximum lifespan at this point in my life. Maybe a turtle. Cari’s turtle gave me a bit of a look into the sort of interesting and spunky personality a turtle can have. My apartment’s strict no-mammal policy limits me otherwise.

I suppose I am being slightly unfair, for there is one fish left. It is little Ottobot, the Otocinclus catfish. He’s a maintenance fish, and is tiny and swift and usually hides, only coming out to rasp away the algae. He is full grown and barely an inch. A lone maintenance fish in a 5 gallon tank does not seem an appropriate life, and I do not want to get any new fish for the tank. I really just want to take down this tank altogether.

Would anyone be interested in adopting a little otocinclus catfish? He is a very hard worker and needs a good home. Surely someone out there near me has an aquarium that could use a good rasper. Much better than plecos, I might add, because those things grow to be like a foot long. Ottobot is a good fish, you’ll never get a peep out of him.


Just when I was starting to bounce back

I got an unpleasant phone call tonight.

My brother and I grew up with the kids next door, and subsequently their parents helped raise us just as much as our parents raised them, and we grew that “family-friend” bond. I hate the term “family-friend,” because it sounds too distant from what it really is. I also dislike the phrase “second mother,” because even though it is attempting to express the closeness, it fails at identifying the correct relationship. I will just say Nancy.

Five or so years ago, Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a very hard time of it, and there were many times when we thought she was nearing her end. Nancy is an extremely positive and strong-willed woman, however, and overcame her condition, going through not one but two bone marrow transplants, and Graft-vs-Host disease at that (Graft-vs-Host is when the infection-fighting cells from the donated marrow see the body as foreign, and start attacking it). It was a mighty struggle, but she overcame it. She is still rather spirited, but has to occasionally rely on a walker to get around.

Recently, Nancy has had a couple falls. I attributed them to her usual weakness acquired from her cancer bout, and I think everyone else did too. Then she started suddenly losing vision in one eye. A visit to the hospital informed her that they had found a lesion in her brain, but at the time they knew nothing more than that.

Tonight my dad called to tell me that Nancy has been diagnosed with brain cancer. It was heartbreaking to me. It just seems so unfair for it to happen to a woman who has been through so much. My dad expects the worst (but, my dad always expects the worst, he’s sort of been conditioned to from when he was a respiratory therapist working in ER and ICU). I’m really not sure what to think or how to feel or what to expect. Maria has been very helpful, as cancer is less horrifying when you know how it works and what is going on, and she gave me an idea of the right questions to ask.

It is just a heavy thing on my mind right now, so if you can give prayers and send positive thoughts for Nancy, please do so, yes? Thank you