Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Most Shocking News Ever!

According to a "news" story today: "Intelligence has nothing to do with wealth, according to a US study published Tuesday which found that people with below average smarts were just as wealthy as those with higher IQ scores."

Have these people been living in caves and not seen anyone with money recently?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On the Subject of Subject

I can't help but think this year is supposed to be one of extremes--of pushing myself way outside the lines that had been drawn around me. But apparently it's also the year of me being sick.

Can you fucking believe it?

I woke up Monday AM and felt disgusting--lethargic, congested, scratchy throat. I looked at myself in the mirror (something I don't do a lot of I admit), and I looked just thrashed. How the hell did that happen in 8 hours? I felt fine on Sat. night watching "Flowers in the Attic" and "Hercules in New York" (though, admittedly, both movies would make anyone feel sick, I suppose).

I gave it a day and today I woke up the same way. "Fuck this," I thought. "I am getting my ass some drugs."

So I call Kaiser and my doctor is unavailable, but I can easily get in to see another if I like.

"Please," I tell the woman on the phone.

"OK, well Dr. ------ is available at 3:10 p.m."

"Excuse me? What was his name?"

She repeats it.

"I'm sorry. I know I am not feeling well, but can you spell it for me?" I hate to say it, but I thought maybe her accent was just making me unable to understand.

"Of course. It's S-u-b-j-e-c-t."

"Dr. Subject." I say it and don't quite believe I am saying it.

"That's correct."

"Really?" I ask.

She doesn't laugh. "Yes."

"OK, Dr. Subject it is."

I thought of how this would be the perfect name for a study aid at Sylvan Learning Center, or the character to whom you can ask any question in a Sex Ed class without shame.

By the time I made it to the office, I was feeling worse. My sinuses killing me, my throat raw. I knew I had a sinus infection, and began to suspect I've had it all along.

Dr. Subject was totally normal looking. Maybe a tad short. Sensible black shoes. A nice way of asking questions. But then he pointed that weird light instrument up my nose and all he said was "Oh, my."


He asked me if I had sinus pressure, but I am never really sure what's out of the ordinary since I have allergies and my life is spent oscillating between more congested and less congested. The whole "pressure" question means nothing to me at this point.

"Tell me, Dr. Subject..." I wanted to begin, but couldn't will myself to do it.

Instead I just said, "So, this is something I've possibly had all along, isn't it?"

"Possibly. Why didn't you come in before?"

Well, good question, Dr. Subject. I don't know. Because I'd have nothing to complain about on my blog? I had no answer.

But here I am 6 hours later starting a 10-day course of a hefty dose of antibiotics, armed with nasal spray, Sudafed, and Claritin. I'm going to decongest everyone and everything within a 5-mile radius at this point.

I can't wait to have my energy back. The stomach ache from the Amoxicilin will be worth it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

At Midnight, a Memory

Late Sunday night: It starts to rain and I am lying under an open window, looking up at the foliage outside, quiet, almost reverent, just listening. I think of the smell of water coming off of fir trees in Oregon, the damp earth and salt air near the ocean, the persistent light hiss of water filtering through all the trees I'd stare at on car rides through the mountains. I've missed the rain, the sound of water. I close my eyes and think about it. I start to laugh because I feel a drop on my face, bouncing through the screen on the window and it surprises me. But I don't move. I hear myself breathing. I listen to Ryan. We both say we'd forgotten what the rain sounds like. I think I've forgotten how much of my life is tied to this sound--people, places, smells, discoveries. I wish it could rain just a little every night so I could fall asleep listening and remembering.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Have to Be in Touch With Everyone, All the Time

Um...I don't have a BlackBerry, so maybe I am just being a jerk with this post, but really, if service goes out for 10 hours (which it did recently for 5 million BlackBerry users), can't you just thank your stars that it's 10 hours in which you don't have to CONSTANTLY BE IN TOUCH WITH EVERYONE...?

I'm, frankly, a bit worried about how flipped out everyone gets when any little thing goes wrong with their cell phone, BlackBerry, what have you. Take this quote from the NY Times article on the BB service outage:

Elaine Del Rossi, chief sales officer for HTH Worldwide, an insurance company, reacted to the severed electronic leash with several panicked calls to her office in the belief that the company e-mail system was down.

"I quit smoking 28 years ago," she said, "and that was easier than being without my BlackBerry."

OK, that's just sad.

The article goes on to detail people who freely admit about how completely flipped out they were by this service disruption, panicking, running around their hotel rooms like the building was on fire. A: I love that the NY Times had to run a huge feature on this; B: Get a life, people.

Read a book.

Go see some art.

Go volunteer somewhere.

Catch up on your cleaning.

Listen to some music.

Watch TV.

I don't care. Just do something other than stare at your handheld idiot box with your drool forming at the edges of your open mouth. If you can't handle a BlackBerry blackout, it doesn't exactly bode well for the rest of us when a real tragedy or natural disaster occurs.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Triangles vs. Charm School

What a weird week--like existentially weird. Everything has just kind of spiraled...not downward exactly. Maybe it's more like sideways. Is there some planetary alignment issue I need to know about? Insomnia, coupled with the shootings in Virginia and the fact someone swiped the back bumper of my car in the parking lot at work (and unhinged the bumper, costing me, oh, $1,000) have just kind of stacked on top of each other. I've felt out of sorts. And I looked at the calendar and kind of freaked out that it was April 19th. How did that happen?

Thank god Wednesday brought "Top Model" and Lesley forcing me to sit through "The Flavor of Love Girls go to Charm School," or whatever that show is called (and which Mo'Nique hosts; she's fabulous). At first, it felt like someone had thrown a feral cat at my face and it was clawing my eyes out, but by the time these trashy ladies were camping in the Angeles National Forest and having nervous breakdowns, I was completely hooked. Almost as hooked as I now am on "Instant Beauty Pageant," which I stumbled across at Ryan's (this is why I do not have cable!) and by which I was instantly entranced. Maybe you've seen it: The hosts find women at malls around the country and give them 3 hours to get ready to be in a beauty pageant, which most of them think is kind of dumb at first, but then they become prima donna pitches competing for (get this), a $1,500 crown (which is made of cubic zirconia and shown sitting on a fraying blue silk pillow) and a couple of nights in some crappy hotel in Acapulco or something like that--some place where The Love Boat always docked.

Someone keep me away from the TV, please.

Then again, TV is the only thing so far this week that seems to be keeping me feeling sane. Studying for the GRE certainly isn't. God I hate antonyms. There. I said it. I then glanced at the math section of my book I am using and my eyes literally crossed. Oh, geometry, how I've always hated you. And who the fuck cares about the dimensions of an Isoceles triangle? If you're one of them, I can't wait to never talk to you again.

The flip side there (and don't bring this up with me in person, as I'll deny I said this) is that I miss studying like this. Maybe because I get to be alone and sit in a quiet room and it's not about convincing media to write about something. But it's peaceful, if distracting in a brain-freeze kind of way.

There's too much to do today and tomorrow. I have to drive to hell and gone North Hollywood (like out near the train tracks) to get my car appraised today. Fun. That should yield a story of some sort, don't you think?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What Sucks and Why

I usually hate getting hungry at midnight for something that's not within easy reach, but after watching "Dolly: Live in London" with Ryan and enjoying "Two Doors Down" and "Jolene"--as well as Dolly's super-'80s press conference Q&A--we both decided we needed cookies and milk and decamped to Pavilions to find something with no corn syrup (me being the boy in the bubble and having an allergy to corn, etc.).

As we wandered into the "Snack Time" aisle (yes, that's what it was called), I saw a woman who I knew instantly was a big piece of crazy. She was stooped over scanning the rows of cookies and her shopping cart was full of Kleenex, yogurt, tissue paper, and other incongruous things. She looked normal-ish: too much makeup, jeans, shirt, reading glasses, albeit reeking of bad perfume. As we stood there reading the ingredient list of Nutter Butters she turned to us and said very loudly, "Do you guys see Mallomars anywhere?" More jolting than the question was the almost New Jersey accent in which it was uttered.

I, of course, went into shutdown mode, refusing to look at her for fear of erupting in laughter and because she was utterly annoying. Ryan was nicer and said, "Um, no. But the packaging is really distinctive, so you should see them fairly easily." And then all 3 of us were scanning for Mallomars. We got caught up in the hunt for a moment before silently agreeing to leave the aisle and head over to the refrigerated cookie dough.

Even after we got over there we could hear her squawking to anyone she saw, "Have you seen the Mallomars?" It literally gave me a chill and Ryan started imitating her a bit too loudly, which was cracking me up as we looked at Nestle Tollhouse cookie dough.

Finally finding something I could eat, we grabbed milk and went to the checkout aisle and Mallomar Lady appeared behind us with her weird shopping cart bumping up against me. As we started our transaction, she leaned in toward the checker and asked, "So, are you guys out of ice!?" (loudly, again). Ryan looked at me and I just stared at him like I'd lost all ability to do anything.

The checker responded, "Yes, we are."

Mallomar Lady responded swiftly: "Well, that fuckin' sucks!"

I wanted to turn and look at her, but I couldn't. We paid and briskly walked out of the store. I looked at Ryan and asked, "Who buys Mallomars and ice at midnight?" He didn't have an answer, and I guess I didn't expect him to. But we both had a nice new catchphrase to use at will, which we did for the next hour: "Well, that fuckin' sucks!"

But the cookies didn't.

Friday, April 13, 2007

My Romantic Evening, Courtesy of the LA DWP

I'm all for a romantic evening full of candlelight, but when said evening is actually dictated by the LA DWP and the fact that wind of about 35 mph managed to knock out power to 150,000...well, it doesn't feel so special. In fact, you kind of start to wonder why the L.A. power grid is so fragile. It rains. The lights go out. It's windy. The lights go out. It's like the electricity would go out if you got mad at the lights in your house and thought bad thoughts about them.

Steve was home by the time I got home and was half-asleep on the couch, an LA DWP bill in front of him--clearly a sign he was trying to find out what was going on and couldn't.

We decided to use the darkness as an excuse to go have dinner across town in Silverlake at one of my fave Thai places. How nice to have a dinner and catch up with my friend, right? Well, halfway through appetizers, all the lights went out.

"Which restaurant do you want to go to next?" I asked him.

Fine. No, no, it's OK, LA DWP. I was still a believer in you at this point. I felt in my heart that your gumption and can-do attitude would save the evening.

So, we hit Trader Joe's and naively bought food and take it home, quickly opening the fridge to grab stuff, make salads and drink beer by candlelight. And, really, our apt. looks amazing by candlelight. I prefer it, in fact. And it was SO quiet. No washing machine, no humming refrigerator, no TV, no computer. I was enjoying it. And then 11 pm rolls around and still no lights. I called the DWP number on the bill to get a recording that literally said "Due to the volume of power outages, we have no estimated time for when power will be restored. We apologize for the inconvenience. To find out more, visit our Web site..."

Um, sure, I'll visit your Web site--WHEN MY POWER IS BACK ON.

I felt like the DWP was that cute guy that wouldn't call you back after a date; it just all seemed so ridiculous. I even had Lesley on her computer on the phone with me looking up "Wind + Los Angeles" on Google. We ironically enough, got an article from the Daily Breeze all about THE WIND and how the places affected were x, y, and z, but not Koreatown apparently.

Anyway, so Steve and I talk some more and then it's 12 am and he goes to bed, me close behind. I snuggle into the blankets and think of breakfast, only to wake up and have the lights STILL out. Are you fucking kidding me? It's now been 20 hours.

What is up, DWP? Really, did an errant branch wipe out power to that many people? And how do you construct your electrical system so that WIND, which is a mainstay of living in L.A., always seems to casually blow up transformers while you sit there utterly stupefied?

I just know my power still won't be on when I get home.

Which means I'll have to throw away all my food by candlelight.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

'One of the Side Effects Is Death'

So I am STILL completely congested. And lord knows, I blow my nose diligently enough and take my antihistamines at bedtime, and this snot will just not go away. I am sure my co-workers love the sound of me honking away in my office.

Anyway, I take off to go get my allergy shots today at lunch. I kind of dread them, though they do always make me feel better in the end. The time I came in February, however, I had what is known as a systemic reaction to the three shots I have been getting on a maintenance dose for months upon months. My eyes nearly swelled shut, I was dizzy and nauseated, and all sorts of general unpleasantness. In the exact science of the medical world, they decided this meant my dosage was too high and the allergist cut it back.

OK, fine, fewer allergens injected into my bloodstream. I can handle that.

But today, a woman I don't know very well is giving me my shots and she appraises me as I approach the counter in the allergy office at Kaiser.

"How are you?" she asks.

"Good," I say. "Getting over a cold so a bit congested but fine..."

She interrupts: "How congested? What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing. Like I said, it was just a cold. I'm fine."

She looks me over, hand on her hip. "Well, we can't give you a shot if you don't feel good."

"I feel fine. Just congested."

Stares. Beat. "'Cause you already had one systemic reaction. You get another and we gonna stop the shots."

"Oh," I say. "I didn't know that."

She looks at me. "So if you're sick..."

"I am not sick. I am done being sick."

"All right. But you know... one of the side effects of these reactions is death."

We stare at each other for a second.

"I'm just keepin' it real," she explains.

I am not sure what to say? Do I get a shot that ultimately makes me feel better and yet might kill me, or do I just say "In the spirit of keeping it real, then, I'm outta here"?

I debate this for a few seconds, unsure what I should actually do. I hadn't known I could keel over and die from having tree and grass pollen injected into me. It seemed so innocuous until now. Now I have to play God with my self and think that maybe by allowing this woman to give me 3 shots, I may be self-administering some lethal injection.

I sigh and roll up my t-shirt sleeve, revealing my tattoos, and turn to her: "Well, I guess we'll have to see what happens," I proclaim too happily.

She looks annoyed and then gives me the worst shot I've had in a while. My arm still hurts like hell. But I have not keeled over. My eyes are not swelled shut. I am
not nauseated.

Death: 0
Me: 1