Monday, February 28, 2005

Tea String Trio

Dizzy today, with winter head. Green vertigo deranges the hallway and the sitting down. DeTox tea is in the air because that’s what there is.

The fortune on the tag at the end of the tea bag’s string reads: "The beat of your heart is the rhythm of your soul."

This morning during the drive to work NPR gave a story on a jazz musician doing scientific research on the beat of the heart:
Milford Graves.

In the basement of his home in Queens, he listens to and charts micro-rhythms in single heartbeats. If we listen close we can hear eighth notes; if we listen closely we can hear triplets.

The idea is he will listen to the beating a heart makes. He will manipulate an abnormal beat and put it back into the body, set right through acupuncture needles or through the ears. Music from outside the body is thread healingly into music in the body.

As yet the research is considered not ready for patient care but in experimental stages of potential innovative treatment.

Last night upon my roommates urging me out of the magnetism curling me into my blankets, I watched Ray with them. I thank them.

Like a very long engagement, like sideways, I can’t get ray out of me. I didn’t want ray to end.

When ray ended on the disc I turned to my blankets and returned to infinite jest, into a chapter about a junkie in withdrawal, wearing days-old eyeliner, heels, red leather, and long pants. In a subway car he shat, seizured, and swallowed his tongue.

A whole lot of heroin and withdrawal thrashed before bed. I slept in and out. The room was lighter each time I woke.

Today I am dizzy. Dandelion steeps the air.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Steps To Make Your Face In The Snow

I have emerged from the snow with all my limbs, lives, and faculties.

I have emerged from the snow in tall black lace-up boots, with hankering for language and warming wine.

I have emerged from the snow with persistent dislike for drivers of SUVs as well as the SUVs themselves. Slow down lest you all by vexing find yourselves in ditches.

* * *

Today I am refreshing my knowledge of Latin grammar online. Faulty technological connection keeps me from reviewing the fourth declension of nouns. Give me gradus, give me grapes.

beatus sis / May you be blessed. Or: Beat us, sis. As my clan of backwoods siblings and I would say to the nun on sunnier days. And then commit hortatory outbursts.

* * *

The Signs indicating which is men’s and which is women’s, which had appeared and as quickly disappeared, have returned to the bathroom doors.

No midgets were in the cafeteria, Latino or otherwise.

Do I have tinnitus? Or are you a goat in the vulgus? A ram in the auster? Big cheeks blow the snow around.

* * *

A lone banana awaits me and beet fumes are in the air. I predict blue for the weekend, the light bright sort.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Making The Elephant Well

Moose Tracks were obtained but yet no burrito.

The MCL is in my boyfriend (a.k.a. Mark, a.k.a. MAK). Technical note: the new MCL is actually an Achilles tendon from someone else's body. I am prepared to write my horror story memoir about the alien soul inside him taking over.

The surgery got me two days off work. (Thanks, MAK, for going through all that so I could have a little vacation. You really are the best.)

Day 1: After my cold morning jog, MAK and I left for the surgery center. I sat behind the anesthesiologist while he delivered one of many sets of 20 questions. Have you had anything to eat or drink? Are you on any medications? Do you like burritos? How about elephants? How many toes do you have? After these questions, I gave MAK's mouth a pre-surgery kiss and returned to the lobby with my bag full of Sunday New York Times (in which I found nice photos of Juliette Binoche and Audrey Tautou) and Infinite Jest. More than four hours later, after I'd read the large remaining bulk of the NYT and 60 pages of IJ, while simultaneously listening to Finding Nemo almost two times through, I was called to bring the limo around. MAK was ready. At home, after some Ramen with tuna and spices, I joined MAK in a vicodin nightcap and slept.

Day 2: MAK shuddered in much pain. I took Gracie through the car wash. I opened a box of Legos I'd bought for post-surgery entertainment. MAK found the page showing how to build the elephant and I went to it. Damnation!--a piece was missing. I tried the monkey--a piece was missing! We both tried the hi-tech tractor. Damnation. A piece was missing. If I were a child I would be feeling the terminal weight of creative failure. Instead I have given my neck some rest and will return with a new monkey in mind. The Lego Conspiracy does not sit well, and everybody knows what bad posture looks like in old age. Straighten up, Lego, or karma will take its osteo-toll on you.

Today work resumes and once again I throw coins in the well, wishing for work that allows time off at my discretion. What the well is: the internet, my brain, and the touched people.

Monday, February 21, 2005

News On Elephants

I have sought and successfully located Ganesh. Today is a day of news.

Good news: my grandma's
abdominal aortic aneurysm has not grown. Neither is she pregnant.

It is my mom's birthday. Happy birthday, mom. I bought her a CD rack to match her living room and copied
Herbert's Bodily Functions to take a bath to. Soon I will mail her a portfolio of headshots of all the good souls I've encountered in New Jersey.

It is also President's Day. I have no big plans to celebrate, though after dinner I might put on my white wig.

Hunter S. Thompson has shot himself dead.

I got free healthy lunch at work today: broccoli, carrots, squash, spinach, potatoes. A big bowlful. Now I want ice cream:
Moose Tracks. Alas, moose do not track through this hospital.

Tomorrow my boyfriend will have his
MCL replaced by one from a dead body, in his second knee surgery since early December. We will not get a complimentary video this time. Rats.

Saturday afternoon while reading Infinite Jest, in the middle of a paragraph about something else appeared the sentence: Some people really do look like rats. I underlined it. Yesterday I was standing in the bathroom with my boyfriend, both of us looking into the mirror. He said, "I look like a rat."

The truth: Some people really do look like rats. My boyfriend is not one of them. Some people really do look like horses, turtles, dogs of various breeds, frogs, monkeys. Comedic evolution.

As a person who involuntarily finds something somehow good in everything, in a matter-of-fact sort of way rather than a damnably sunshine-cheery sort of way, I hesitate calling any of this or otherwise bad news in contrast with the good news I began with.

Yellow roses are still in the air. Cinnamon moves through the air.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Seeking Ganesh and the Ultimate Burrito

Technology continues to challenge me to be better than I ever thought I could be. That is, my computer crashed yesterday and the internet was down all over the hospital; today the internet is back up, yet it took more time for my computer to be finally buried and for a subsitute to be brought in. I got a new and nicer keyboard and mouse out of the deal. Now I have to find another picture of Ganesh to place as wallpaper. Here's to rennaissance.

I crave a burrito. I crave a behemoth burrito. I crave a really fucking bad-ass burrito. Conclusion: behemoth = really fucking bad-ass. Give me beans, give me melted cheese and good guacamole, give me salsa to sizzle my buds to life.

And while you're at it I'll take a rich dark beer. I'll take that before the burrito and on an empty stomach, but long enough before the burrito that when I put the burrito in my mouth I'll taste the burrito in its full monster flavor.

Technology has kept me from transforming from a nephrologist into some other logist today. I hang in limbo. I will experience the weekend this way.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Occult Calculus

Another observation session with the medical librarian and I have further confirmation of her Lovecraftian origins. I watched her walk a newcomer to the stacks and explain the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classification system. When she delivered in her quaint British accent a brief history of the NLM classification system she bolded the capitalized L's in Lovecraftian Librarian. The NLM system originated during WWII, when the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) was developed, also referencing the landmark television program. In my quick research I couldn’t find the full connection. Her demonstration of historical particulars adds clear evidence to a rich occult background that must manifest itself in scaly tentacles extending from her hips and down. These appear only in resting state, I imagine, which is why they were not visible during her tour-guide trip to the stacks.

In other news, I am a nephrologist today. I am an expert in kidneys and in diseases affecting the kidneys. I hone in on nephroliths. I biopsy alien calculi that visit innocent kidneys. An abstract abacus in one hand and a marble Sigma in the other, I am prepared to calculate a differential cure. Walk-in appointments available.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Frights Flushed

A terrible thing has happened, but not the most terrible thing.

My Yo La Tengo CD has influenza. I could hear the heart beating as one, but now the sugarcube skips, that incredibly undulating bass line. I will find the devil in the disc and expel it with Latin, razors and kindness.

Yesterday at work I walked down the hallway to the bathrooms and found new white-paper signs on each the men’s and women’s doors, indicating in bold black print which was which. Even for the dim, I thought the doors were well-marked before: pink sign with a stick figure in a skirt on the women’s door, blue sign with a naked stick figure on the men’s door. Now, in case of confusion, there are two signs on each door.

I walked in. The first stall was dirty, so I went to the other one. On the back of each door was a new sign, white paper, bold black print: Please flush when finished.

I guess what seems obvious to me isn’t necessarily obvious to others. Lesson learned.

What the most terrible thing would be eludes me. Each time something terrible happens I’m pretty sure there is something more terrible that could happen. The same goes for when something ecstatic happens. How anticlimactic life would be if that weren’t the case. Might as well assume it’s so.

I guess the most terrible thing would be if there nothing more terrible to happen after the present terrible thing.

Please pray for the sugarcube. Melons, of two shades, are in the air.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Afternoon Notes In The Velvet Underground

1. The first full-length 50 Foot Wave album will be out on March 8 in the US. Hoo. Ra.

2. While I was eating my damn big salad for lunch I read the March issue of Scientific American. There is a short article about Michael Mann, climatologist and proponent of global warming research, who since his original investigations has been defending his findings against people who say global warming is a hoax and that the warming the planet is experiencing is just a normal flux in the large scheme of things. I don't know much about what politics might be involved and where, if any. What do you think?

3. The employee cafeteria serves three different buckets of assorted beets at the salad bar. I think this is weird considering it isn't a full salad bar. Round sliced pickled beets, shredded pickled beets, and red round ones with holes in the middle. Maybe the latter aren't even beets. Still, two separate buckets of beets at a small salad bar is a lot of beet.

4. Also in this month's issue of Scientific American, I learned that camel racing is a favorite pastime in the Middle East. Young boys have been "imported" to ride the "humpbacked desert beasts". However, recently the Qatar gov't banned child jockeys. Their replacements will be remote-controlled titanium robot jockeys who carry whips. There is a picture in the magazine of what this looks like, worthy of an orgasmic guffaw; this issue isn't online yet. If I had a scanner I'd scan it for you.

Delusional Rose of Plexus

The day began clumsily and slowly.

I very recently moved into a new home: The House of Shin and Tom + Sara = The House of Shin and Tom and Sara. The math is easy. Numerous witnesses tell me the place is haunted. Last night Shin told me the hallway is supposedly haunted. Naturally when I was in the kitchen getting a glass of water later I peered into the hallway, waiting for something to appear in it before I walked back through to my bedroom to sleep soundly.

I had to buy an alarm clock when I moved in. I paid little for it and it is loud. The sound of an alarm clock is among my top five least favorite sounds. The others: Hm. I really don’t know. Depends on my mood and on the situation. There are the qualifying voices of at least two people I won’t mention here lest I upset my karma.

The alarm clock went off this morning. I hit snooze, because it was the quickest way to stop that painful noise, and then I went to take a shower. When I got out of the shower, the alarm was complaining loudly in repeated loop. I had forgotten to turn it off. Alarmed, I ran to my room.

This is so not like me. It’s true. I’m usually the person to be annoyed by the person and associated alarm that goes and goes and goes. Not the person who is neglectful of the alarm. I hoped Shin and Tom are sound sleepers.

And then I left late for work, had to park in the Really Fucking Far Away Lot and then clock in on the opposite side of the hospital because the time clock I usually use was out of order, all for the second day in a row. The coffee, the bags, the coat, the lock on the door. Everything I touch has a slight fumble in it but not quite a fall.

These things don’t bother me. They’re just part of the clums following me around today, the askew cues. When I got here I opened an e-mail from my grandma:

I'll be anxious to see your new hair cut - is it to the ear lobe length or longer? Either way, I bet it looks good. Next time I see you, how about being a red head again - I loved your hair when you had it that auburn shade (not that I don't like it now - just preferred the red). It will probably be easier for you to take care of now that it's shorter - less to dry and curl.

Earlobe length? How about being a red head again? Is that a threat? (Though I am contemplating it.) Less to dry and curl? Curl? Do you know me?

Yesterday the disorientation began: Mark appeared in my bedroom in the middle of the night, just after I’d had a dream he was in. When I got to work I had to park in the Really Fucking Far Away Lot and clock in on the opposite side of the hospital for the first time. Mark’s dad appeared at my office door with Valentine’s Day flowers and cards. Now my grandma thinks I curl my hair.

The disorientation rocks--bring it on, gods, particularly the nice midnight and floral surprises. But curling the hair? Do I curl my hair? Maybe I do. Maybe I'm not who I think I am.

Yellow roses are in the air.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Orange Sheets

Yesterday I went to TJ Maxx and left with tears in my eyes. I can be a sensitive sap, i.e. deeply disturbed by how humans behave.

While I cast my seeking eye over the store’s racks and shelves, a voice over the intercom said, “Please check to see that everyone you came with is with you right now. We have a lost child up at customer service. Please check to see that everyone you came with is with you right now.”

I came alone so I was ok on that one.

I had gone into the store seeking a small shelving unit and small table. I found neither of those but I did find bright orange sheets very marked down, which I didn’t need, but they were bright orange. What would the color gods think if I’d left the sheets sitting on the shelf? I didn’t want that wrath.

I walked toward the cash register. A large black woman was standing behind the main desk, holding a small Latino girl crying her big dark eyes out. The lady’s voice came on over the intercom again, with the firm addition, “We still have a very upset child up here.” The little girl was very upset.

Someone from the jewelry counter yelled across the store, “Say it in Spanish!”

The woman holding the girl: “She’s so upset she won’t tell us her name!”

Jewelry man: “No—say it what you said in Spanish.”

Woman holding girl: “She so upset she won’t tell us her name.”

Jewelry man plus jewelry girl: “Say it on the intercom in Spanish.”

The message finally got across just as a tiny and early 20-something Latino girl emerged from the misses knits and walked to the counter: “That’s my baby,” she said, with the breeze of a person collecting lost keys.

As the young mother was collecting her daughter, who quickly reached out to her mother, two stereotypically Jersey women standing behind me in line started: “I can’t believe that. I’m just stunned. When my child gets three feet away from me I get hysterical. I’m just stunned. I mean, how could she not know…”

The large black woman who’d been holding the child: “We get this at least three times a week. People just start looking at the clothes and forget to pay attention.”

Jersey women: “I’m just stunned. I just don’t see how she couldn’t know. How could she not know. Her child!”

They went on and tears formed in my eyes.

Tear 1: How rude to so loudly judge and scorn as the mother was walking away. They could have no idea of the circumstances or what the mother might have been thinking or feeling. And they didn't allow any other possibility to enter their minds because they were so concerned about scorning in a show of their superiority.

Tear 2: Almost every time I venture out on a shopping trip I see a mother absent-mindedly yelling at her child, regardless of what the child is doing: having stepped three feet away, has to go to the bathroom, is hungry or thirsty, doesn’t want to be fucking clothes shopping because he or she is a child. The mother desperately seeks to show some sort of control in order to prove to herself and to those around her that she has it. Look, I know how to control my child. I’m yelling. And many of those are the same mothers who protect their children from so much that the children grow up scared to explore, experiment, and, simply put, live.

Tear 3: I chided the Jersey women for shouting it, but really how could the mother not have known her daughter was gone? As it turned out, the mother did speak English, so she must have heard the first message delivered over the intercom. The first message had come at least ten if not fifteen minutes earlier than the second. That’s a long time if something so vital as your child is missing. I began to wonder what her life was like, both the mother and the daughter.

All of this made me guttingly sad, the crude distance between people, a seeming hopelessness for people ever to understand one another—from the inside out and not just on the outside. Just buy another sweater, and some candy for the little one. That’ll shut them all up, put a sheet over the black empty between yourself and them. Buy another set of sheets you don’t need, to keep you from yourself.

I went on to Target and found nothing I needed. I do, however, think I'll enjoy sleeping in these bright orange sheets.

Friday, February 11, 2005

This Is META (Or "Hopped Up On Echinacea Gummies")

This morning I received an e-mail from a reviewer for the journal, which caused a shining hot upheaval in my self (purposefully put separately). He sent an e-mail which said he was sending his review, along with further related commentary. Then in the last paragraph a sentence began, "Your blog…" I read right past it at first.

The self that sits in front of the computer at work is the same self that conjures posts for my blog, so both activities are related in my grand central station. However, just outside the center there becomes a distinction between the self that interacts with the people at work, The Good Doctor, the authors and reviewers, and the self that releases onto this blog; i.e. on the blog I can be rather crass or just plain too candid for the workplace. What I had thought was distinction just outside the center lit up and I saw that both worlds had merged.

Suddenly I felt naked and my mind flitted quickly back through as many posts as I could remember that might contain any information potentially disreputing to me and to the journal. I never speak poorly of anything journal-related because I really do, for a change, like both my job and The Good Doctor whom I work for (I purposefully never mention his name here).

Interpretation, though, is variable. My imagination is fanciful. Yesterday I tossed in a hint of fanciful cock about having the authority to make mid-process decisions while The Good Doctor is away. I wrote it in thoughtful play, but it occurred to me that it could be loosely interpreted into a disrespectfulness in the way manuscripts are handled. In actuality, it’s rather impressive the time and care The Good Doctor puts into each manuscript, and I am flattered that he trusts my instinct to act while he is gone.

This morning’s e-mail hit me also with something my selves continually battle out. I am of that breed of people who simultaneously 1. thinks of myself as too freakish, too unintelligent, too worthless to reveal to the outside, and 2. knows I am a bit freakish but considers it an asset and knows that I am intelligent. The two circle and cycle in a habit that hides the much of the central self and results, oscillatingly, in a twitchy neurotic who when the hidden coins clink to the outside ear draws unfamiliar attention. I clip my fingernails while walking about in public. Now you know.

People have asked me if I grew up Catholic. Nope. But for some reason I grew up with all sorts of guilt just for being human me, feeling I should hide me: They can’t know I say naughty words, they can’t know I’ve sampled drugs, they can’t know I burp or fart, they can’t know I sometimes have unsavory thoughts—or thoughts at all—even though everybody else is just as human in varying configurations, with their own version of clipping their nails in public.

For some reason, though in recent years I’ve become more capable of pulling carrots and beets out of my soil, it has been an unfounded rule set by some mysterious author that I shouldn’t and couldn’t share my thoughts. Doing so in written word has never been a problem for me. That probably has something to do with the alternate consciousness from which I write, so distinct from that from which I speak. Sometimes I look at what I’ve written and wonder who wrote it. It’s my handwriting, but it looks so foreign. It is foreign when I see the inside outside of me. I'll continue learning to deliver more carrots and beets to the outside, because it's ok if my grandma or a man I've never met in Australia know I use foul language and clip my nails in public. I'll also maintain the luxury of going succinctly from self to self to self where appropriate and when I choose to.

Two other separate selves will meet on Saturday when I meet up with a girl I haven't seen since we were approximately twelve years old. Here's to active elimination of boundaries.

Should you pass by again, you who brought two of my disparate worlds together this morning, hello to you and thank you for challenging my setting.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Lunatic Cock Redefines Authority

I just sent a letter to a group of doctors who submitted to the journal a manuscript on the effects of levetiracetam, whatever that is. I do this sort of thing frequently in my job. However, The Good Doctor usually makes the decision and I report it. This time I made the decision.

The Good Doctor is out of the country for three weeks and told me to make decisions that come in the middle of the submission process. That is, I will not make a final decision on a manuscript but will decide when a manuscript needs to be revised based on the comments of the reviewers.

Partly, this isn't difficult considering the range: accept, revise, reject. Almost never is a manuscript accepted upon initial review. If both reviewers suggest some sort of revision, then the authors will be asked to revise. If both reviewers recommend rejection, the authors will be sent a tactful letter.

It interests me that I have been given authority to scan a scientific paper, read the reviewers' comments, and instruct the authors to revise. While I am interested in most facets of science, I have no certifiable qualifications to judge the merit of the research either within this paper or within the larger field of s____ m_______. Having done plenty of research I do bring with me, however, standard patterns of organization and standards of precise, thorough research. I can see where the data on obstructive sleep apnea patients is lacking in a study.

The re-confirmed epiphany: anything is possible given key transferrable patterns.

Furthermore, crazed cock is in the air.

Another Spot On The February Leopard

I have Lovecraftian fantasies about the hospital librarian. She speaks a gentle British accent, listens to NPR some times and other times to classical music on the radio, she is kind and helpful to whomever calls or queries. Something is amiss. I am certain that green blistered tentacles extend down from her torso hidden behind that quaint desk of hers.

I am certain also that the hospital librarian is associated with the Latino midgets wearing scrubs who populate the employee cafeteria.

I wish I could remember what the cave told me. Instead I remember: I'm no fucking Buddhist but this is enlightenment. Let love in.

Am I a puppet or a puppeteer? Both as equally as night and day, apples and grapes, Spain and the rubies it's made of.

The bunnies are miniature and sometimes my birthday falls on the day of their chocolate resurrection. We are a petting zoo.

The tentacles I don't see blind me.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Events Occurring In A Sleepy February Spot

Somebody heavied the air. I am afternoon weight.

Ghosts are posting aged tables into documents stored on my hard drive. I did not write those documents. —Or so I thought.

The sleep technicians like the black & white photo. They say it over and over. The male thinks the bride is cute.

Salad is in the air. It keeps happening.

My hair is at once a tree and an animal climbing out of my head. There will be both a slaughtering and a logging. I am on the edge of my non-ergonomically correct seat.

There is nothing not perverse that can be said about a fellow installing a rod in a closet, particularly when he has left a mess that must be cleaned up.

Did I just nap with a lion and a dog? Oh no. The floor is blue.

I have, at the day’s end, opened the door.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Sun In Spain and The Salad War

Can I just get a salad without any fucking commentary? Often when I am spotted ordering a salad, putting one together buffet-style, walking somewhere with one, such as to my office, I receive the following comments: What are you doing with a salad? You’re so thin, you don’t need to be eating a salad. You need to eat more than that. That's all you're eating? Just a salad?

Today, however, when I was in the employee cafeteria, a man behind me at the salad buffet said, "What’s the rest of the hospital going to eat?"

To the first group: Have you seen the size of the salad I put together? It’s fucking huge. It could feed three people. I happen to enjoy salad, particularly those I've made from a buffet offering hundreds of ingredients, including raisins and cottage cheese. It's good for me. It’s healthy. It tastes good going down. Not once have I commented on those hot dogs and French fries you eat for lunch almost every day and how that might not be healthy and might contribute to the way your body looks. Besides, you don't know what I put in my body when I'm not in your presence. To each his own. Why don’t we talk instead about where all these Latino midgets wearing scrubs in the cafeteria come from? Or how we feel about our future deaths?

To the latter man: Latino midgets wearing scrubs, our future deaths. Enjoy your plate of beef and vegetables. At least you know the salad is behemoth.

Ok. I guess I'm not annoyed at these people. What's the point. It's just a way of communicating askew, what's said in place of what people want to say but for some reason are unable to. Latino midgets wearing scrubs, our future deaths.

In other news, The Good Doctor has left for India for almost a month. This is no vacation, though, my work will continue to flow in. And I will miss him. Today I have been very busy solving work problems, and successfully I'm happy to say. I had a nice e-mail conversation with a doctor from Spain who shares my brother’s name, as well as the doctor's father and grandfather. And I had a nice phone conversation with a doctor from France who lives in Michigan.

People and their places.

I’ve been listening to Elliott Smith almost all day. I think I have become obsessed. I can’t stop. Why didn’t he catch me when he was alive? I’m not sure. But I think now that he might be my link to the afterlife, or to immortality. I’ll see how it plays out.

I have spread the good word about the gummy bears that contain Vitamin C and Echinacea. Now I must learn to levitate.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Wearing a toga draped over a bikini, eating borscht

That’s the position I found myself in yesterday afternoon. Yesterday I did two of my favorite things: sweat in the bathhouse, eat Ethiopian food. I add these to a list I made back in September, which included and still includes the following:
1. dreaming
2. laughing
3. being surprised (along the whole +/- spectrum)
4. being naked with my boyfriend
5. shifting into alternate consciousness while writing

Because seven is an unfinished basement, I add these to make a solid top ten favorite things:
8. sorting & organizing (which sometimes include messing things up first)
9. exploring a new town
10. making mix tapes/CDs/etc. for people I care about.

Anyway, yesterday my boyfriend and I celebrated three eventful years together in Manhattan at the
Russian and Turkish baths, after which we dined finely an Ethiopian restaurant new to both of us. The state of meditative calm induced by the bathhouse for me is unparalleled. If the bathhouse were closer to where I live I’d go once a week. Perhaps it’s good it isn’t; i.e. Grandma’s rolls stopped tasting so good when she started making them every week and not only at holidays. After a couple of hours of sweating we went upstairs for food. The vegetable soup was gone, so I ordered borscht. I’d never had borscht. When I lived in Iowa City I made beet soup, not borscht exactly, after reading Tom Robbins’s Jitterbug Perfume. Because nobody was interested in eating the magenta sludge, I ate it every day for a week, sometimes twice a day. My hands were magenta for two days after I had cut up the beets. What a great food. It stains magenta.

At the bathhouse I observed the following:
1. A young Asian fellow wearing a speedo which was colored pale blue and white blurring together like clouds in the sky.
2. Lots of crack, as in ass crack showing out the top of bikini bottoms and shorts.
3. A fellow perhaps a little younger than me who looked instantly familiar, though I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen him before. We shared palpable recognition each time one of us walked into a space where the other one was. Many times he looked at me, and a few times at my boyfriend, with searching recognition. Conclusion: he is somebody I ought to know, or he is a heads-up for someone I will meet, or he is a reconfiguration of somebody I already know and his purpose is to remind me of something important about this person.
4. A guy I saw last time, who in the Russian room kindly poured a bucket of icy water on a bench so I could sit down without burning my ass cheeks.
5. The scent of eucalyptus that continues to call attention to itself in my nose today.

The bathhouse isn’t co-ed until 2pm on Sundays, just men earlier in the day. We arrived at 1:30. As we drove by I noticed that across the street from the bathhouse, on 10th Street between 1st Ave and Avenue A, was a little shop called Obscura, which I’d been to over a year ago—two years? This was before I knew anything about the bathhouse. I missed it when I went to the bathhouse for the first and only time previously. In case you didn’t catch my account of that first time, go
here. Inside Obscura one will find skeletons, pre-20th century photos, heavy prosthetic limbs, old dolls, and the like. Cool place.

When we left the bathhouse we went to
Ghenet, about a mile away, and tongue-fondled the ambrosiac vegetarian sampler for two along with a bottle of Cabernet Savignon. A good day it was. And then we slept like bears.

* * *

In other news, orange-faced people wearing suits weird me out. I’m not talking about oompah-loompahs. There is one of these who occasionally strides up and down the hallway outside my office.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Transcending the Continuum

Two days ago while I was sitting at my desk at work in the throes of electric despair, my cell phone began vibrating. I picked it up, looked at the number. I didn’t feel like talking and I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered it anyway. A calm, casual voice said, "Hi. It’s ____ _____." Fill in the blanks with the first and last name of a girl you don’t know whom I went to elementary school with. She lived a couple blocks from my grandma’s house. We spent a lot of time together between there and her house. I don’t remember how old I was the last time I saw her. Safe to say I was younger than twelve. She said she remembers me from 7th grade; since I don’t remember I’ll go with that. She moved to Washington about that time and I didn't hear of her again until months ago when my mom mentioned having seen her mom.

Anyway, there was no surprise in her voice, like "Hey! What do you know—it’s ___ ____!!!" Just Hi. It’s ____ ____. And then we briefed each other on where we are in life, a little on where we’d been, all as if it were as common as going for groceries. A conversation like this could have been awkward, but we had plenty to say to each other. Her mom had gone into the flower shop where my mom works in Illinois and it came to surface that both their daughters live in New Jersey. So my mom gave her mom my phone number, and she passed it on. This was many months ago my mom alerted me that she might call. Turns out her boyfriend, in a cleaning frenzy, threw away my phone number, and when she called her mom to get it again, she too had thrown it away. The number was retrieved again and at last she called me. I thanked her for the effort. I think a lot of people might not have bothered. Maybe I’m being cynical. But people get busy; people have their current lives and the current in those lives is strong. It takes real effort to connect the distant past with the present. We’re going to meet up the weekend after the one coming. The thought of two distant times converging excites me, for one because it’s like two of my separate selves converging. How strange that is. It’s a similar thing when my friends from different spheres and different times meet; it’s putting in one space the extreme multi-dimensionality of a self and of a space a self lives in. Mad scientists are in the air.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005



I was just at the printer collecting my powerpoint presentations on Approaching a Patient with Sleep Complaints and on Parasomnia. A doctor I'd never met was standing there with one of the secretaries, also waiting for a printout. While she was pulling mine out carelessly while chatting with the doctor, which is not necessarily problematic but annoying because now the whole thing is out of order and the pages aren't numbered, the doctor looked down at the pages and said, "Mmm. Parasomnia."

They continued to chat. I said, "There is another one [document] coming about the same size as that one."

The doctor looked at me and said, "Do you know Dr. ____?"

As my mouth was forming the shape to say No, the secretary interrupted and said, "I do, and I used to send you dictations all the time. All the time actually."

He turned back to me and said, "I'm wondering if you know Dr. ____. There was someone working with him who has a Western European accent, which I believe I hear [knowing wink], and she looked a lot like you. Belgian?" he asked.

"No," I said. "That's funny, though. People often think I have an accent. I'm from Illinois actually. Central Illinois."

"Oh," he said. "Well, now I know what a Central Illinois accent sounds like."

"Well," I countered, "I don't talk like people from Central Illinois. I don't know how it happened, but I talk differently than everyone in my family."

"Black sheep," the secretary suggested.

"Of the whole state," I added.

The doctor said, "As a Lansing, Michigan resident, I can tell you that isn't a Midwestern accent."

Then the secretary asked me how my brother is, if he'd been shipped overseas.

Where did that come from? And what lack of tact. What if he had been "shipped out". My brother is a newbie in the nuclear program of the Navy, which I'd told her months ago.

This scene is representative of two recurrencies:

1. People who are insecure and need to draw attention to themselves no matter how flimsy the marionette strings.

2. People consistently ask me what country I'm from because of the way I look or speak. Most of the time the guess is France. Belgium is new. This trend fascinates me and I love it.

Without Rules A Thing Can Be Anything

“You’re doing very good work,” he said. Then the Good Doctor said to me, “What would I do without you?” Everybody needs to hear someone say this and mean it now and again later on.

I was just listening to a Pedro the Lion CD, which I received when I lived in Iowa City and wrote music reviews for the local nightlife paper. That paper went under months after I began writing reviews. More specifically, the paper went under just after I’d spent a long, grueling time writing a review for an album I had zero interest in. I was about to hit send when the music editor called and said he didn't need the review. Those are the breaks. This event followed my being asked to review two Christmas albums done by local middle-aged jazz artists. The songs sounded to me like what you hear in K-Mart around Christmastime; however, I didn’t feel that was appropriate to write. The music wasn’t terrible, and even though it didn’t appeal to I thought it was cool that middle-aged guys were doing something they enjoyed and putting it onto CD to hopefully (and most probably) entertain other people. This followed my being asked to review a blues-rock album by a local artist. The whole album centered on the theme of meat. Every song title included meat, various kinds, various ways to cook it. The cover art followed suit. I did what I thought was artistically coincident and dropped a few embarrassing meat puns into my review. When the paper came out, however, the part of the page that contained my review was dripping with rare-meat blood and black grill markings, via editor's license. My name was pulsating on the page with this thing, this very public thing. Anyway, I thought this Pedro the Lion CD was ok but filed it under mediocre. Listening to it this morning, I am enjoying it. It’s no Kristin Hersh, Smog, or Doug Martsch to me, but I like it. I wonder what the difference is, in me. I think this trend of variation is what makes me a bit of a pack-rat. You just can’t tell; maybe those white-denim too-long/too-short cutoff shorts will appeal to me three years from now.