After three long, sleepless days, I'm finally finished principal photography for the short film I was holding auditions for last month. It all went quite well for once; only one day went over schedule, and only by an hour, and only because one actor turned out to be extremely high maintenance and took more than a dozen takes to get two simple scenes finished. He was the sort of actor who was utterly convinced that he was doing things right and would just ignore you if you told him to do something in a different way -- and of course, after the tenth take of him fumbling the punchline, he finally admitted that he didn't even understand the joke he was supposed to be delivering.

Other than him, everyone else was great, knew their lines, weren't morons, etc. We got unlucky with the weather on Saturday and had to film outside scenes when the temperature was below zero (and everyone had to wear tanktops, since it was spring in the script). Tempers flared, especially when the aforementioned high maintenance actor kept interrupting takes to ask when he could go home, but the footage was all nice and no one held it against us. I made sure to cook a lot of food for everyone on the last day, and we filmed in a nice, warm university building then, so it ended on a high note.

One lesson learnt: When filming a scene with cigarettes, buy way more cigarettes than you could ever reasonably need. We had enough to do a few takes, but we didn't take into account the fact that you'd have to keep cutting the cigarettes in half with scissors to make them look like they'd been smoked a bit, when filming later portions of the same sequence. Luckily there was a convenience store a few minutes away from the set so it wasn't a big setback, but for what it's worth I'll file that in my memory bank.

Another thing to add to my "how schools are disgustingly incompetent at everything" list: there's no way for a handicapped person to get on and off the second floor of the school building we were filming in without knowing an obscure passcode for the elevator. Campus police doesn't know the code, student services doesn't know the code -- apparently no one other than the staff (who aren't there every day) knows this code. There's even a sign that says to contact campus police if you're trapped on the second floor in an emergency... except, as I said, campus police doesn't know the code, so you'd have to immediately escalate to the actual emergency services. Combined with the fact that an able-bodied person can simply walk up the stairs to this floor -- what the hell is the point of forbidding elevator access to it? We were filming on that floor -- with permission, obviously -- so it's not like people are forbidden to go there.

It took me and my wheelchair-bound friend over an hour to figure out a cheat that could get him to the second floor (you can go down to it from the fifth floor, perplexingly). We were both furious. When I get the chance, I'm bringing this issue to the relevant authorities, because it's totally unacceptable that that school (which might as well be a private corporation in the wonderful education system of 2012) can get away with spending all their money on watering the grass, erecting "no smoking" signs, and filling the tanks of the professors' Lamborghinis, when there are so many blatant, dangerous safety violations all over the goddamn campus.

Typical issues, though. I'm actually still amazed that every group at the school got the memo that we were going to be filming on the second floor... usually working in a school means that there's maybe one or two profs who know what you're doing there and you spend half the day explaining yourself to the cops. Everything went better than expected.

Overall, a stressful but very rewarding few days. I only got an hour or two of sleep every night between them and my limbs were all sore as hell by the end, but that's part of what I love about this job. I just finished sleeping like a sackful of bricks and I'm on top of the world once again. Now it's time to start post-production.

If you are a guy, you may want to hold on to your junk as you read this

I have been extremely lucky in so many ways, but I guess the one that has counted for the most has been my health and constitution. I have a better than average immune system which dodges most colds and flu’s and recovers very quickly from those that manage to slip through. I have never broken a bone, had more than a few stitches, once for a car accident that would have surely killed someone else. I have never had to stay at a hospital, or had general anesthesia, or really anything seriously wrong with me other than some small cardiac issues not worth medication. My luck was bound to run out, but I did not expect how it would run out.

For years I had been avoiding the need to do something about my phimosis. The thought of getting circumcised after a half century gave me the willies. It was so stupid how it all started, a small cut at the tip of my foreskin from the inset mesh of a bathing suit of dubious quality/provenance that scarified and slowly strangled my foreskin. After six years of avoiding it, I could see that soon I would not be able to reach in between the foreskin and glans to clean properly. The final meeting with a urologist for a second opinion was almost comically short, no question in his mind that there could be an alternative treatment with steroid creams and slow distension of the skin. Before I could argue with him (which I recognized was futile) he had me scheduled for a circumcission.

I had the operation last Friday. My wife accompanied me to day surgery at Brigham and Women’s here in Boston. Without her there to be a calming influence, and one of my anti-anxiety pills, I don’t know if I could have made it to surgery. The surgery is simple and quick, no more that thirty minutes, however, it is done with just local anesthetics. I have a particular resistance to local anesthesia and in the few local procedures that I have had done, both involving small cysts, I needed an excessive amount. In this case, the initial charmingly named penis block did not work very well and I was longing for a bullet to bite and a long draw from a whisky bottle to endure the very painful twenty (not exaggerating) injections of local anesthetic around my glans. Thankfully the nurses were fantastic, all male, I think not coincidentally. The surgeon had just come back from extracting a kidney, so he had little sympathy for me but then again, I hardly saw him. The worst part of the operation itself after the anesthesia was all in and working was the smell of the cauterizing tool.

It has now been a few days and the pain is finally beginning to recede. The biggest pain and discomfort, which I was prepared for is that of my newly exposed glans rubbing against my underwear, almost unbearable after fifty years of being ensconced in a protective sheath of skin. There is also the problem of nightly erections which all males experience three to eight times a night. These wake me up in pain from the sutures at least three times a night. Oh, and I am running out of pain meds by now and feeling a bit anxious. Yesterday I finally took off the bandage and saw the surgeons handiwork for the first time. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting as he left at least half my foreskin there. The edge of the foreskin is also a bit jagged, like he used kiddie plastic scissors to make the incision, I hope it will look better once it heals properly.

And yes, I am totally freaked out by this, which is why I am writing this daylog, as a sort of therapy. I know that it will all be fine but part of me is concerned that sex will be ruined for me, which I know is irrational, but I can’t but wonder.

Update five years hence: All is well and has been for some time. Since this was my last writeup for quite some time, folks who I cooled their writeups would just get this as the first taste of my writing. I am going to fix that starting right now, but I wanted to add a quick postscript for those who may still wander over. In the end the full healing took the better part of a year and most of the year to get used to my new anatomy though the painful phase lasted several months. Sex is different - not really worse or better - but never painful as it was starting to be before the circumcision. So, on the off-chance that you have arrived here looking for advice - do it if you have to.

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