Thursday, January 19, 2006


I have been keeping something out of the blog world. I don't know if it's fear that writing it will make it more true or out of respect to one of my dearest friends. My friend Randy, a.k.a. hairless, is in the hospital suffering from graft versus host after a stem cell transplant. He was diagnosed with Leukemia last spring and has battled courageously with it. So courageously in fact that he had us all going like it was nothing. You see Randy is a tall, strapping specimen of strength, a hearty eater and exercise fiend. Most of my readers either know Randy personally or have read his silly, at times unintelligible comments on my blog. I don't know how much he values his anonymity, or if he goes by hairless in order to get into this game of alternate egos in the blogosphere. Knowing Randy, I can't imagine he much cares.

I finally decided to put down my thoughts mostly because his health has been weighing on my mind heavily. I can't imagine how is family must be faring. All I know is that this disease doesn't just affect him, it affects everyone who cares about him and in a different way at that. I don't want you all to feel sorry for him, he has never ever felt sorry for himself. I don't want you to feel sorry for me either. I'm not looking for sympathy because my friend has cancer, I'm looking for some eyes to read this and maybe appreciate their own health a little bit more.

I don't know if he remembers or not, but I met Randy when the department was recruiting me and paid for me to come down for a visit and have a look around. He was hanging out in the lab I am sitting in now even though he worked down the hall. My host invited everyone for lunch and he was one of the few who accepted the invitation. At Bennigan's he sat next to me, a foreshadow of his tendency to always take the seat next to mine at restaurants. I had a chicken salad. After he was done, he leaned over to me, pointing to my dinner roll, "Are you gonna eat that?" I was a little stunned, but it was the first gesture of acceptance towards me. Rather than being offended at his forthright nature, I felt at home.

Randy is a genius. Literally. His IQ is through the roof. He used to be an experimenter, and then switched to theory after he got his Master's because he was bored. He left school after only a semester in theory without getting his Ph.D. I know there are people that thought it was a shame, him being so smart and not staying for his Ph.D. It turns out he knew better. Before he got sick he took a job writing physics related computer code for video games. Most of his time was spent debugging it, so he ended up getting paid generous amounts of money to basically play video games. A dream come true for any science geek.

Unlike many physicists, Randy is also extremely well rounded. He enjoys learning and speaking foreign languages. He listens to classical music. He likes to cook and tend to his aquarium. He used to go to the gym four or five times a week to run and lift weights. He played on the physics department intramural softball team (we were the Rocket Scientists). He plays tuba and piano. He watches baseball and football only on TV. The stadiums are too loud.

Because Randy's mom had bought him a digital piano, he was generous enough to let me come over and play it whenever the mood struck me. I finally "moved in" by bringing all my sheet music and leaving it there. I didn't need it in my apartment. Sometimes he would call and ask me things like "Can I bend the binding on your new Chopin book? There's a song I really want to learn." Every time I went over there, I could play for an hour or so without distraction while Randy read a book or played a video game. Inevitably though, he'd wander over while I was playing and start harmonizing on the highest register. Whether he specifically knew the piece or not. I'd find an appropriate stopping point and scoot over so he could sit next to me on the bench. Then we'd take out a book of duets or a book of Bach fugues and inventions and turn those into duets. Sometimes improvising, sometimes butchering, usually laughing at silly things only musicians understand.

Randy is an atheist. He doesn't believe in the supernatural. He thinks what you see is what you get. His friends and family are praying for him though and we can't help but notice him perk up a little when we come by to visit. We can't help but feel like our strength and good feelings are somehow channeled to him, feeding him and nudging him along.


mr. schprock said...

What an amazing guy! You painted a very colorful portrait of him. I feel as if I know him, and am pulling for him to get better.

On a not completely unrelated side note, from what I've read in your blog, I think you and you're circle are very impressive people. High IQs, down-to-earth attitudes, you know how to have fun, etc. I really like how close you are to your family (I see your parents comment all the time on this blog) and your friends all sound so interesting.

Nice post, nice blog!

Grandma said...

I channel my strength and good thoughts to an amazing friend of yours. You both are truley blessed to know one another!

lefty_grrrl said...

Your grandma comments here? That is too cool! I'll be sure to watch my language from now on, granny.

Randy doesn't have to believe in the supernatural in order to see its effects. Besides, it's completely natural to be happy around loved ones. And it is completely natural to want to cheer up a sick friend. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Just good, old fashioned love.

Jackie said...

Just wanted to let you know that there is a blog that I have been reading lately, it's about a young married couple written by the wife, whos husband has (just in remission for about a month) lukemia.
You may want to check out some posts from back in Oct/Nov that she wrote, I think that they may really help you.

Best wishes for you and your friend.

mom said...

just wanted to share the first time that we met randy. the cool thing about my daughter is that she let's "all of her worlds collide" and invited tom and i out to lunch with her physics department. we went to a chinese buffet and the only thing randy was eating that week was mac and cheese and ice cream. what a character!! he stole the show with his lunch choice and his fifty cents he made everyone get out on the table to buy a toy out of the vending machine before we left. randy started my husbands addiction to "homies" and he's been collecting them ever since.
p.s. to lefty girl... don't watch your language because of magnetbabe's grandma (my mom) some of the best words i learned from her, and don't let her catch you calling her granny!!

Scott said...

I liked this post about your friend. It sounds like you two just have an affinity for one another, a natural attraction so hard to find between friends, but impossible to ignore. I hope he can pull through.

magnetbabe said...

mr. schprock-
Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad I could convey what a special person Randy is. I like to think we are a good group of people, but hearing from someone I don't know personally really means a lot to me. Thanks!

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm sure it means a lot to him and his family.

I agree, which is why even though Randy doesn't believe in the healing power of good feelings we do the best we can. And my mom is right, don't watch your language around here! Just be yourself! My grandma comments all the time under a pseudonym. I don't know why she didn't use it this time. I won't tell you what it is though, one of my others friends couldn't guess it!

Thanks for the website. I checked it out last night and a lot of it rang true to me, but a lot was different. The experience really is different for everyone which is part of what makes it so hard. I think I'll be back though. I liked what she had to say.

Thanks for the story. I wondered if you were going to recount it. He is always weird about food. And that sweet tooth! The workers at the Chinese buffet used to get this wooried look on their faces when they saw him and go restock the dessert table.

Thank you. Sometimes I think about him and I wonder why on Earth such a smart quirky guy would want to hang out with me. But in my heart I know we do have a special bond and we are so different that we compliment eachother well. Plus he's one of the few people who I always trust is completely honest with me which makes me respect him all the more.

grandma said...

Lefty Grrrl: I guess I was taken aback a bit by being called Granny as I have never thought of myself as such,although I do fit into the age catagory.I was discussing this today with some of my co-workers, who are psychiatrists and mental health professionals,and we came to the conclusion that perhaps I felt that the Granny term made me somehow feel irrevelent because at my age, younger folks sometimes feel that way. I love reading Natalies Blog and it is also my way of knowing who her friends and fellow bloggers are. I am extremely proud that she has such a great group of friends and bloggers around her!!! Also,I don't think anything said would be something I hadn't heard!!! And finally, just to let you know, I am probably one of the leftest leaning, tree hugging, Clinton worshipping person you'll ever encounter!! Enjoy you all and will now go back to my other identity

lefty_grrrl said...

F*ck yeah, Mom, and Grandma! You two are awesome.

And by the by, I didn't mean 'Granny' to be ageist, but more like 'you're one hip granny.' Reading your last comment, I just need to ask you one thing: Will you be my grandma, too?

Natalie, Randy is lucky to have you as a friend, and vice versa. I hope if I ever encounter something like that, I've got people on my side.

And lastly, I assumed that you would've censored me long ago if my language was a problem.

gabrielle said...

Thanks for introducing us to this amazing person. Your description of Randy and your friendship with him is so vivid that I almost feel as though you brought him home to dinner. We are widening our circle to embrace him and wish him healing and much love.

amanda said...

Hey there Magnetbabe, saw the comment on my site so I figured I'd drop by. Best wishes for Randy--he sounds like a hell of a guy. Feel free to stop by and air your thoughts anytime.

magnetbabe said...

gram and lefty-
You two crack me up. There are only four of us grandkids so I"m sure she'd take you, too lefty.

Thanks for your warm wishes. Hopefully someone we can have him over for dinner!

Thank you for stopping by. Ditto to you- you're welcome here anytime.

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