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The text: "Fly back to Bahstahn, we'll pick you up/get crunk." I had instead committed my Eve to the Midwest, six kappa maki, and a stack of
. My hetero-partner-for-life sat next to me, her Sig-O asleep on the couch in front of a PBS-sanctioned opera special. We switched over the channel in to watch a status-post CVA Dick Clark slur his way into a new year. Why did he start the countdown at twenty? we wondered. Think he's been practicing this the other 364 days of the year with his speech pathologist?
Jersey is stank. It has a Loehmann's Department Store, which hath provided me with a Kenneth Cole handbag among other superfluous accessories, so for that and that alone may The Garden State be pardoned. Monica provides me with additional sundries: Johnson & Johnson pumice foot stones, aloe salve, band-aids. She's a chemist, and she lives and works in a sort of Drug Company Commune that reminds me of the episode of
involving Hank Scorpio and World Domination. The goods are a by-product of contractual obligation and employee fidelity. I hear you can't turn left in En-Jay, I say.
Monica is a gritty third-generation Italian from Youngstown, so the transition to the Turnpike wasn't a cultural cataclysm. She loves Jersey, loves the money, loves the job. After we're done grilling her about her co-workers' affairs (people that we do not know, and only care to know in the context of salaciousness), she tells us about her latest trials. "Do you know I've killed three Rhesus monkeys in the past two months? I had the right precipitate. The reaction was mint, but who knows. Those frickin' little things cost $250,000 each. Accounting got to know me real well."
Sample Real Life Quote Submitted for Readers' Digest Quotable Quotes ($300 if printed):
On a recent trip to Jersey, two friends debated the contents of the host's kitchen:
J: "You know banana chips aren't good for you, right? They're fried."
J: "Don't you ever read the nutrition facts?"
M: "No, but... I'll just have to shove them up your ass, and Dr. Ro can put on a long glove and pull it out again."
J: " '2girls,1glove.' "
Alternet submission for end-of-copy space filler:
"Looks like we have a batch of whores today." -Molecular technician, on HPV testing specimens.
What shall I do with my crisp $300?
I'm told that despite popular belief, the Microbiology Department is one of the cleanest places in all of the Lab. I try to keep this in mind as I handle plates of Shigella and Pseudomonas. Much like colorblindness is a handicap for the artist, anosmia leaves the microbiologist in a differential-less world. Pseudomonas, I'm told, has the distinct waft of artificial grape flavoring. This worries me now, as I jot down a To-Do list with a purple glitter pen, and wonder whether it's the glitter, the pen, or the impending sepsis that is reminding me to Buy Toilet Paper, Batteries.
Etiquette of Affairs
When one is with one's mistress, is it taboo to speak of the betrothed? I write, and it's during the lunch breaks, the late nights, the business conferences where I canoodle with my muse. She is sweet (it is a she) and kind, and never pushes me. She shows up when I cannot play but does not take it personally. I do not call back, ever, but she leaves encouraging voicemails. And still, still when we're together, I speak of punishing medicine, of the soul-draining hours and people, where the only thing that is funny is the cynicism.
"Write a clear explanation of ONE of the following:
How to train an athlete for any sport
How to prepare for a tropical vacation
How to drive on a busy freeway..."
How to Drive a Bus on the Freeway:
First, choose the type of bus carefully. A school bus confers several pediatric challenges, the least of which includes, children. A greyhound-esque charter bus provides for fun-filled tourist fanny-packed tomfoolery, but little in the way of general sloth; the average Mr. and Mrs. John Smith from Kenosha are going to want to talk. To you. About the Fun Things to Do in Branson.
After choosing the appropriate vehicle, consider WHICH highway is going to be traversed.
The Kancamungus allows for scenic autumnal views and Clean Mountain Air, but runs the suicidal risk of Moose and Squirrel mid-ascent.
Mulholland, or the 101, are vague, oft-referenced California by-ways of which Hollywood has promised breathtaking oceanic views and glamorous starlet sightings. Beware of any White Ford Broncos.
Don't forget the promising I-77, where the majority of the traffic will be concentrated around the Waffle House exit. This Midwestern strong-hold provides an ideal stretch for cruise control, unless, of course, your final destination is the Waffle House.
My hands are perpetually cold. Luckily, my three-year-old laptop is about to incinerate; its slow, Hadean death serves now only to warm my fingertips, if not to load the celebrity gossip websites at a Methusean pace. Cold Hands, Warm Heart, my older patients would console me as I felt them up and gave them gooseflesh. They'd give me an encouraging wink, like a grandma offering a plate of warm cookies to neighborhood children. The heart is where again? I'd ask, and each one would go rigid beneath my hands, this time not as a result of my frigid digits.
It scares me to think that all I have to say in prose format was cashed out in months September through November (and December 1 through 4, but those entries from that forgotten batch don't count). It's January, the harshest of months; the long, cold days and longer, colder nights persuasively arguing in favor a dirt nap or at least an extended hibernation. But I have get up tomorrow; I'm sure the hospital would come to a screeching halt, should one of their residents not be available to obsessively check
and feign interest in the minutia of laboratory rituals.
Apparently, PeptoBismol contains aspirin. This is handy knowledge; should you wish to quietly incubate rather than cure that pesky duodenal ulcer, a quick coat of the pink will help with the former. I make a quick trip in to see Dr. Midge, convinced I sound like a wacko. "See, I had this horrid, gnawing epigastric pain for like, two months. But it's gone now and I feel like a million fucking bucks." I might as well have said, "Psych ward, sixth floor again?" She sends me off with an Rx for Carafate and a plug for an AM/PM Yoga video.
It's 9:26 PM, what do you have to say for yourself? A handful of twizzlers, some almonds, a blue cheese salad, two movies, one nap, one piece of legitimate work completed, excessive internet surfing, laundry folded, way. too. much. caffeine. I don't see "reading to the blind" or "working with poor nuns" or even "donating to foodbank" on that list. Not even the more highly probable "got drunk" or "went to gym" or "took shower". What do you have to say for yourself? I say that 34 minutes from now, my show is on, and then perhaps a long-term nap.
Anton Chekov would make an excellent Muse. He had cut his teeth in both the Russian tundra and in nineteenth century medicine, both of which most likely built character by breaking one down. He would pace around me, spewing strings of indecipherable insults, pausing to spit on the first few keystrokes I make.
"In my country," he'd say, "we write for a two rubles and boot. You ungrateful
. Go back to medical school."
And he'd be wating for me to cry, but we're way past that. I don't even blink. "
" he'd shout, and slap me upside the head.
My right eyelid is twitching. It's a rapid on and off, it comes and goes as it pleases. I consult WebMD,and Dr. Google, and come up with a plethora of pornography sites. From Google, too. Somewhere along the line, I seem to have missed
particular medical school optholmology lecture addressing
particular topic. (I imagine it was most likely wedged between OHMYFUCKINGGODFINALSARECOMING and Judge Judy, 2-4 PM qdaily.)
is apparently the technical term. There's a handful of supposed causes: Fatigue. (Check.) Caffeine. (Check.) Stress. (Check.) Backroom Police Interregation? Plans for World Domination? Stupid Party Trick? Work in progress.
A number of years back, I went to a N.O.W.-sanctioned event, sponsored in part by Medical Students for Choice. We dined on wine and cheese cubes, discussing heternormative topics in a converted honky-tonk bar that I had actually graced one week earlier. (Only this time, there was no drunken, large-breasted Lolita and roommate simulating lesbian sex on the mechanical bull while frat boys and other standard university White Hats looked on.) There was a sheet hastily slung over the bull, as if to mask its presence to a room full of women whose job it is to notice these things.
This particular bar's schtick was that all peanuts could be unshelled and left on the floor. I'm not sure why that is appealling, or to what demographic the owners are pandering. Those same peanut shells had been hastily removed, the outlaws now relegated to the crack where the bar met the floor. I noticed them now, as I had fumbled some brie in my preoccupied haste to affect the perfect mix of indifference, disquietude, and General Feminist Outrage. I was just as out of place here now as I was a week ago. Seems to be a common theme.
Oh, Dana. You've aged. I do not know, exactly, how to process this. Your hair is longer as is your countenance. I do not spy any grey, but you always maintained a solid auburn upkeep. Your dress now is more contemporary, and I am delighted to see that you've eschewed the awkward, shoulder-padded, taper-legged navy blue pantsuits and clunky pumps in favor of a more tailored, feminine look. But, we have to talk. I know it's been a long time, close to a decade, since you've been around, and I think you should know that you fucked up my life.
Your worked a tight, one-hour week. You made great money, despite working a government job, which afforded you a nice apartment and judicious travel. Your lifepartner, while a bit flaky and selfish, provided you with endless entertainment and served his purpose of being general eye-candy. You had: the glory, the guts, the brains, the brawn, the beauty, the adolation, the adventure. You did not have: the exorbitant student loans, the stress ulcers, the perpetual self-doubt, the on-call nights, the exile, the asshole boyfriend. You sold an illusion to an entire generation of little girls, and we are pissed.
I've conveniently not addressed your hardships--your brain cancer, kidnapping, being fired several times, the death your father and sister each within a year (not to mention your own infinite brushes with death), and some awkward, hazy dealings with your fertility that I'm still not clear on-- but I feel as if we should call a truce. It wasn't your fault that I bought into the sexy appeal of your shenanigans; I was young, impressionable, and filling out college applications in between commerical breaks. Because the truth is, I've missed you. And your asshole lifepartner. Because the truth is, is out there.
Contact: Between 11p-12a. Sundays only, please.
References: Available upon request
Current Status: Comfortably Numb
Formal Education: Studied under classic and modern literature and culture (Atwood, Wurtzel, midwest, pop, respectively)
Summer, 1984: earliest emotional memory; embarassment in wake of being scolded by train conductor
Christmas, 1991: potpourri of anticipation, excitement, joy upon reciept of first computer
1991-1999: temporary coma
2002: first love
2004: first heartbreak
2006: modern dating armageddon
1984, 1986,1992, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2006: relocation cultural shock
Other: Have extensive experience with sarcasm and cynicism as a byproduct of attempts at wit. Skilled in crude and inappropriate humor. Currently taking night classes and courses by mail to acquire optimism.
How to Give Negative Feedback:
1. Make sure the individual(s) feels valued.
"Josh, I appreciate having you around as my all-purpose subordinant whipping boy."
2. Describe the behavior; be simple and direct.
"But I'm uncomfortable with you staring at my tits."
3. Solicit their input; get their perspective.
"Do you behave this way because your wife wears headbands and ill-fitting, taper-legged jeans?"
4. Remind them of expectations.
"Hey, my eyes are up here."
5. State the effect on others.
"You made Jesus cry."
6. Collaborate on solutions, offer alternatives.
"Perhaps you can look at my rack only every other day."
7. Follow-through with the individual on a regular basis.
"Was it good for you?"
He looked so sad, standing there in the corner of the parking deck. Cars were rushing by, angling for the space closest to the exit, but he saw none of this. His attention was focused on the piece of paper in his hand: the tri-folded, hospital-letterhead Dear Sir piece of paper he had waited to remove from its envelope until he was out of the confines of the hospital itself. Nevermind that the windchill was negative-two today; small, crystalline mist droplets excaped from his mouth in a rhythmic, controlled manner that took all of his courge to maintain.
"It's always Two Dudes. In any shooting, someone's sitting there, minding his own buisness, and gets shot by Two Dudes. Anyway, the bullet had entered through his plexus at an angle and lac'd his bowel. We open him up, but he goes hypo on us, and that's when we realize that his heart got lac'd, too. The cardiothoracic guys are at the head of the table, followed by the generals, the chief...me and the scrub nurse at the feet. After about an hour of making fun of the patient for not being dead, we left and got some coffee."
Contents of cuppboard: Tubertinis, instant mashed potatoes, vegetarian baked beans (three cans), Kashi vanilla soy protein shake mix, a lot of tea (I hate tea), a bag of sugar. Contents of refridgerator: organic skim milk, an entire 24-pack of Diet Coke, condiments, soy lunch"meats", one half stick of butter, one Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Brew, exp. 06 JUN.
My friend visits and opens the fridge. She closes it slowly, delicately, and takes a step back, as if she's just happened upon a dead body.
"You're depressed, aren't you?" she says.
"Don't you usually
weight when you are?" I ask.
greyhounds are supposedly like cats: aloof, loyal, smart, quiet. the irony is that if you have a greyhound, you can't have a cat. at least, not a greyhound that doesn't the difference between a cat and a mechanical racetrack bunny. what is the pull of greyhound betting? if you're addicting to gambling, it doesn't matter if you're betting on dogs, football games, or who in hollywood is going to die next (amy whinehouse). it's an illness, they say, but the distinction with every addiction is that it only becomes unhealthy when it leads to financial, social, and personal ruin.
i am obsessed with the little fox that's at the top of my iGoogle banner. every so often, in accordance with the time of day, he goes on about his business like the rest of the world: 8 AM, breakfast; noon on a saturday, laundry in the nearby pond. i actually find this all a little sad; my day, in comparison, consisted of jerking out of bed at 8 AM, having the toilet overflow on me at noon, and going back to bed. it's 2:50 now, and he's having tea. i am on coke number two, and in my pj's.
The white sleeveless down vest, I feel, will be sufficient for a Boston February. My sister drops me off at the airport, flicks me on the exposed shoulder, and quotes
Back to the Future
: "DORK here thinks he's gonna drown." I laugh, hug, pull the luggage, and go inside. Once inside, I check the Departures, and the gods have decreed that I will take off at 5:30 instead of 4. I make a U-turn back out to the drop off area where her van still sits. "Marty!" she says. "It can't be, I just sent you back to the future!"
The gods also decreed that through a comedy of errors, I was to arrive at my car in the Boston long-term parking lot only to discover that February has frozen her innards. A Good Samaritin, a Hometown-Boy-turned-Worchester-transplant that I had chatted up on the shuttle ride over, was parked nearby.
He attempts to jump my car. I offer to bake him a pie for his troubles. "You look like a Blueberry," I say.
"How does one 'look like a blueberry'?" he queries. His cellular phone rings: "Hi darling, can I call you right back? I'm in the middle of something."
There's a bowl of live crickets in front of me, contained within the walls of the porcelain, looking somewhat sedated. The do not know that they are to be a meal, and I wonder what
last meal was. Something gritty, most likely. I have a
ready to chase, so I take a game-day swig, and bring the bowl to my lips. They're horribly awake now, my amylases a call to arms. My choke reflex has nowhere to go, and I feel one scurring up my nasal cavity. I reflexively chew, their little exoskeletons now lodged in my molars.
They're sitting across from me, on the same side of the booth in China City. J is canoodling with her new girlfriend, and I'm cupping the jasmine tea with both hands, trying to keep warm. The new girlfriend pulls away for a moment to order when the waitress comes by.
"I'll have the tofu and brown sauce," she says, handing off the menu. "This stuff is uh-MAY-zing." J nodds enthusiastically.
New Girl continues: "If I were on Death Row, this would totally be my last meal."
"Yeah?" I ask. "Why would you be on Death Row?"
She looks at me blankly.
"You awake from a nap, only to discover you're now eighty years old. Describe what happens next."
Assuming I don't immediately have a coronary and die, I suppose I would survey the damage. I'd get naked, stand in fron of the mirror, and see what decided to fall like an ill-fated bunt cake. I'd have seb k's everywhere. The little brown stuck-on lesions would salt-and-pepper my back, and the creases in my antecubitus. My toenails would be yellow, but camouflaged under my black nailpolish. The nipple piercing I got on my twenty-seventh birthday is astonishingly still in place. I look
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