See those tiny white dots in the image up there? Those are radioactive isotopes at work. And that’s a photo of my prostate gland, which at the moment is harboring stage 2 cancer. The dots are, in medical lingo, palladium “seeds” implanted to do to mutating cells what Fat Man did to Nagasaki in 1945.

As an insurance policy, I’m now undergoing external beam radiation therapy, which will zap the borders of the target area and theoretically destroy any stragglers hiding in the peripheries. To tighten the aperture before dialing in the heat, the medtechs lay me flat on my back, order me to spread my elevated legs, take a small balloon, and shove it straight up my ass. Then, as I’m laying flat on my back, they inflate it with a little squirt of air, which makes it feel like a ping-pong ball’s about to pop out my mouth.

Cued by my gasping, one of the medtechs (both women) can’t resist and says “Now you get an idea of what we have to go through.” I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate; a lady friend begs to differ: “There’s no comparison between invading the two orifices – I’ve done both.” Still, I get the basic concept. And as the indignities of being human stack up and mortality looms ever larger, I’m beginning to have diminishing tolerance for the glacial pacing of “progress,” on all fronts. Especially this one:

Wednesday’s testimony of All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office director Sean Kirkpatrick, before the skeleton crew of a Senate Armed Services subcommittee. The novelty of our long-deferred adult conversation is wearing off. We’re locked into first gear on the interstate, and I’m over it.

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