(Greetings: This blog existed in some form before I transitioned. I've decided that I want to maintain that history. This was the last post, written a month before my egg cracked (before I realized I was transgender))
It has been almost 5 years since I posted on this blog about the discovery of my prolactinoma/pituitary macroadenoma that ravaged my endocrine system and body for what my doctors think was more than a decade. My life has changed in unbelievable ways since then, and I thought I should make another post, but didn’t know what it should be about. I no longer felt like I was forced to live with the frustration of not knowing what was wrong with me, or that my life was destined to end before thirty. Everything was new and I didn’t feel like I had anything to talk about because I was too busy (finally) living.
Then, this morning, I was listening to the final episode of the first season of my current favorite podcast - I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats - and they were discussing the last song from the album All Hail West Texas, “Absolute Lithops Effect”. Around the 16 minute mark, John Darnielle and Joseph Fink began a discussion about the idea of periods of time when you’re waiting for your life to begin. I now realize that that is exactly what my twenties were - the period when I lived someone else’s life, until I returned to mine.
Some time after the tumor first started the “benign” process of changing my body and my mind, I started to feel a strange sort of dissociation. I could remember being social, being at least somewhat physically active, being physically attracted to people. I could remember driving into Philadelphia after work to hang out with a girl I was friends with who I wanted to date, but never expressed my interest (and who, when I lost all sense of ambition and attraction, I lost touch with). I could remember all of that, but they weren’t my memories anymore - or, at least, they weren’t the memories of the person who I was at the time. They felt like remembering someone else’s life. That version of me couldn’t imagine putting that much effort into much of anything.
Moments of Waiting
“Even the things that were really terrible at the time, they all lead me to this life that I really like, and if I change any of them - even the ones that at the time were terrible - I don’t know if I would end up at this life again.” -Joseph Fink, paraphrasing Jeffrey Cranor
John and Joseph go on to talk about these moments of waiting - these periods that, in hindsight, were really just waiting for the next stage in your life to start. Around the 20:20 mark, Joseph discusses how he at one point was in the process of interviewing for a job writing at Bioware, and how “that would have been so exciting at the time, but then none of this would have happened”. A couple minutes later he discusses an idea (quoted above) his partner on “Welcome to Nightvale” Jeffrey Cranor expressed, and which is something that I’ve always referenced the end of the TNG episode Tapestry to explain my feelings on.
It was at this moment that I knew I finally had a blog post to write here, almost 5 years after the last one.
“I don’t think that I accepted that I wasn’t going to die young until I was 26 or 27” -John Darnielle, Absolute Lithops Effect
Up until I was 26 or so, I had assumed I wouldn’t live to see 30. I was 600lbs, I had no motivation, no ambition. The only friends I had any regular contact with were my two best friends from high school and the people I met playing World of Warcraft. They and my family are the only reasons I did actually make it to 30.
When you think you’re going to die young - either due to some sense of predestination or, in my case, just because of the numbers - you don’t really make any plans for the future. I don’t remember a specific moment when I realized I was going to make it, I wasn’t going to die in my parent’s basement. Perhaps there wasn’t one moment, but a series of them, when the assumptions I’d made about how and when my life would end all crumbled.
“I remember in college talking to my dad about what I wanted to do with my life, and I described exactly my life right now” -Joseph Fink, Absolute Lithops Effect
I remember sitting in my father’s classroom (he taught Drafting and CAD at the high school I went to) in middle and high school, reading the WarCraft 2, Diablo and StarCraft manuals. Absorbing the art by Metzen and Samwise, reading everything I could about the town of Tristram, the Alliance and the Horde, and the United Earth Directorate. I remember knowing then that I wanted to work for the company that made those games, probably as a programmer because I didn’t know I’d end up going into Systems Administration/Systems Engineering at the time.
“Some of that was sitting around waiting to see when the thunderbolt was gonna strike" -John Darnielle, Absolute Lithops Effect
Nine months after the second blog post about my prolactinoma, where I discussed starting dating finally at the age of 31 and imagining for the first time in a long time what a life not lived alone would be like, the thunderbolt struck for me. I met Caeli, the woman who is now my wife - we met on an online dating site, moved to chatting on Steam, and went on our first date to see Big Hero 6 the night of her 27th birthday.
I am not someone who believes in destiny. I realize that it is a big universe, and that on a big enough scale, things that shouldn’t happen very often happen all the time.
And so it would be with Caeli, Blizzard, and myself. When I met Caeli, I had just returned a week earlier from BlizzCon 2014, where I had interviewed for a Systems Engineer position working primarily on their Big Data platform. I came home hopeful that I would get the job and end up moving from Virginia to California. I figured I would still go on dates, but I wasn’t expecting that I’d find anything long term in the amount of time I had left in the DC area.
Just 3 weeks after meeting Caeli, I got my official offer letter from Blizzard. Caeli was working part time at a Sprint store and hadn’t really started a career yet, but knew she wanted to be a Software Tester and maybe someday a game designer. Neither of us remembers who said it, but one of us half jokingly asked “what if we moved together”.
3 years and one BlizzCon proposal later, we are happily married and both working at Blizzard. Had things happened just a little differently, we might never have met at all.
There are many parts of my youth that I’m not proud of. There were… loose threads - untidy parts of me that I would like to remove. But when I pulled on one of those threads - it had unraveled the tapestry of my life. -Jean-Luc Picard, Tapestry
Absolute Lithops Effect is an episode about endings, and how endings are often new beginnings. It is an episode about the steps we take to get to where we are, and how unexpected those paths can be.
There was a period of time where I was angry. Angry that so many doctors had never ordered a simple hormone panel. Angry that nobody believed me when I said something felt wrong. Angry for the lost friendships, the lost potential, and the lost time.
I think about where I am, who I am with, the life that I am leading, and I realize that much like Captain Picard at the end of Tapestry, and much like Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor have expressed, I wouldn’t change any of it. Regret is something that I’ve moved past, because it is unproductive, but also because if I changed any of those things, I might not have met Caeli, I might not work at Blizzard, and I might not have my network of friends and loved ones. Ten years seems like a small price to pay for the life I have now.