Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm off to celebrate the holiday with my family. Happy turkey day! (Or tofurkey if you're of that bent)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


The playwriting workshop started with a guest speaker -- the Executive Director of a local non-profit theater. She talked about how we could produce our own plays, about the costs and the process. I got all fired up listening. It really is do-able. I just have to write, save money, and find a director I trust. No problem.

Okay, so maybe there's a slight problem. I don't have a full-length play to my name. There's one in a drawer that'll never see the light of day. There's a couple one-acts and a bunch of ten-minute plays... No dice. Not yet, but it's do-able. That's important to remember.

I'm submitting my ten-minute play out into the world next week. If anyone is interested in reading "The Science of the Balance of Ultimate Power" I'd be happy to share. Send me an e-mail. Yes, I know I've offered to share before and then not shared because I didn't think the play was ready. But this play has to be ready by December 1, because that's the deadline.

"The Science of the Balance of Ultimate Power" is a play about a monster, the mafia, and a human named Henry.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Calling the Homework Fairy

Friday night, 6:30pm, still at my desk. I know that as soon as I stand from my desk, I admit defeat. I admit that the remainder of my work must be completed over the weekend. Precious weekend time is now earmarked for decidedly non-precious activities. I pack my things. I store my laptop in its bag, gather relevant loose papers and slide them in beside the laptop. Then I drive home.

There's also the matter of my ten-minute play. It needs to be finished this weekend too. The deadline looms.

And I've got a ticket to see Matt & Ben Saturday night (aka tonight). This excites me greatly. But it could have come at a better time.

My extremities are freezing. Time to declare this day officially started and get my ass out of the chair. Oh but look, isn't the kitten sweet curled up in my lap? Maybe if I just sit here a little longer, maybe, just maybe, it'll all take care of itself.

Now I've done it. She's purring. I'm doomed.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

An Open Letter to the Blonde in the White Van

Why so full of anger? Why gesture wildly at my car? I didn't hit anybody. It wasn't life and death. I just didn't get out of your way fast enough. Yes, the tail end of my car was partially blocking the "Do Not Block" intersection, but that's what happens when there's traffic. Sometimes you let six cars turn in front of you (because hey, you're a sucker) and then everybody else takes advantage so you go anyway because you know it's now or never -- even though you're mellow you probably oughta get to work eventually -- and the guy behind sticks close though he knows he shouldn't but he's impatient too, so yes, for 15 seconds the intersection is blocked... But? Why scream obscenities and shake your fist at me? What's that gonna do? Remember how I looked at you and smiled? And it made you even madder? That was funny. We were in the same traffic jam. We were both without coffee. We both waited fifteen minutes to go 150 feet down the same street. So why? Why give yourself a coronary? It's just traffic.

This line intentionally left blank.

The Brunette in the Blue Car

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

$0.45/Minute or A Public Service Announcement

My cell phone bill last month was $35. Same as the month before. And the month before that. For the last 2 years in fact, my phone bill has been $35/month. So you might imagine my surprise when I opened the envelope today and saw $157.

Apparently, I didn't use enough of my unlimited night/weekend minutes. Apparently, after you go over your regular limit (which I've never done before) you get charged $0.45 per minute for incoming and outgoing calls. $0.45 a minute for a local call. One incoming call alone cost me $27 - nearly the total of my normal bill.

It's such a fucking racket. First of all, it's my word against theirs that I didn't talk on the phone for 11 hours last month. And as for incoming calls -- which count against your minutes -- they don't list the originating number. You just gotta nod your head and smile.

In the end I've got no recourse. I pony up the money and I make a deal to keep this from happening again. Customer service was nice enough. But damn, I KNOW I wasn't on the phone that much. How can I prove it? I can't. Not unless I keep a ledger itemizing phone calls and nit-picking over every single stupid line item.

Watch your phone bills people. I don't like to be all Conspiracy this or that, but isn't it odd that this happened right after my very large phone company merged with another very large phone company? I suggested my theory to the customer service lady, but it only seemed to anger her. THEY must have been taping the call.

What do I care? It's only Christmas money. So what if I can't afford to buy little Johnny his heart medicine? He'll be fine unless he has to stand. Or walk. Or rise to a sitting position.

Well I'm off to reshape my tinfoil hat. It's lost its edge.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Inspired by Science

they published your diary
and that's how i got to know you
the key to the room of your own and a mind without end
- Indigo Girls, "Virginia Woolf"

Hey, I finally get it! When I first heard the song, what, ten years ago? I didn't get it. I didn't listen to the words. Sure I could sing them (badly) but I never got the reference. Not the forest for the trees.

I hear but I don't listen.

The Indigo Girls was the second concert I went to. The first was Billy Joel and Elton John rocking the Jack Murphy Stadium -- now the Qualcomm Stadium. The year was 1994-ish. To get tickets to my first concert ever, my friend and I camped outside the Wherehouse at 6am. It was cold.* We were first in line, and for several hours the only ones there. I was convinced we were in the wrong place, but my friend talked me down from the ledge. This was not her first concert. She knew to bring blankets and a fold-up chair. I sat on the concrete and huddled deep down in my jacket.

I think the staff took pity on us. After waiting all those hours, they announced that the tickets were being sold on a lottery basis and passed out numbers. Somehow we managed to draw number one. Our seats were 19 rows back, ground-level. They were great seats.

For the concert I streaked my perm'ed hair gray and wore bell bottoms and a beautiful polyester shirt. My friend glued lots of red glitter to her shoes and then wrote "Elton" on the back of her jacket. We'd had numerous thrift store adventures obtaining our outfits. My favorite thrift store was on Fifth, downtown. The city tore it down when they built the new stadium. I'm still in mourning.

We carried around a video camera and interviewed fellow concert goers for fun. I think we were on crack. We fueled each others' crazy. I might have yelled loudly that I was pregnant with Billy Joel's lovechild. And then I may have staged an elaborate birthing ceremony. Hell, it's been a decade. Who remembers that shit? Certainly not the video tape.

I remember Billy Joel was sick. He only stopped playing the piano long enough to hack pieces of lung into his hands. (That's dedication!) Elton John came out onstage and sang the rest of "River of Dreams." I'm sure Elton John is a very nice man, but I wanted to hear Billy Joel. That's why I was there. Missing out on the full Billy Joel experience tainted the night a little. So I bought a t-shirt. It's still in a drawer somewhere. Anytime I like I can trace the journey Billy Joel took to get to me... and then not sing. Hoo-ray.

When my friend's mom spilled beer on me, I decided concerts weren't my thing. Later, in the back of her station wagon, I watched us speed through a stop light. I prayed, silently, that she'd get us all back in one piece. And then I thought about how cute I was going to look in my new concert t-shirt.

The moral of this story is this: if I'd been old enough to drink I would have had a much better time.

* This was before, you understand. Getting concert tickets was a serious business back then. I mean, you could get frostbite! You could get ass splinters! Oh you kids today, I shake my fist at you and your new-fangled modern conveniences!

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Glass Needs a Refill

I'm compelled to write about writing. But I'm not completely committed to examining my opinions on the subject. Not at all. I'd prefer to gloss over it. I'd prefer to let it hang in my periphery, get drunk and let it all float away. However. It's common knowledge that you can't drink when you're on antibiotics. So I guess I'm stuck, firmly rooted in my sobriety.

I don't have much patience for my insecurities. Instead I turn them into jokes at my expense. If I write them down, I give them shape. I give them power. I'd rather keep the shades drawn. I'd rather you didn't know. So I'm conflicted.

This job I have is good for me. It's forcing me to think logically, but I'm not good at it. I know with patience I'll be good because I'm arrogant. It's just that I can't stand being bad at something. Well boo hoo. Let's opt out of reality for a clumsy metaphor.

In my mind's eye I'm at the bottom of a very big hill. It's slippery and sharp and as I try to scramble up the rocks, I cut my hands. Now I'm convinced I'll never make it. My hands and legs are bleeding, bruised, and it's started to rain. I've probably broken a rib. I panic. I stop. I consider giving up. I concoct elaborate fantasies about the helicopter that's sure to rescue me. Of course it doesn't come. Eventually the rain stops and I climb, slowly, deliberately. I make the "serious" face. Maybe I bite off the tip of my tongue on account of clenching so hard. I hum bad pop music to myself. When I reach the top, I'm incoherent and inconsolable. And I've got gangrene. I cut off my leg with a pen knife. Then I cauterize the wound with lava because I accidently climbed an active volcano. And it's erupting.

At least, that's what writing means to me.

A better question is: what possessed me to start climbing in the first place?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

An Addendum

BF's car got a parking ticket this morning. Stupid new street sweeping regulations. We're averaging one bad Thing per day, so this totally fits.

I try not to be -- it doesn't exactly jibe with my sophisticated worldview -- but I'm a pretty superstitious person. As an example, I ordered an Apollo medallion from an honest-to-god psychic website so that I could carry it around. I think it was supposed to bring me wealth and good fortune and prevent tooth decay. I'd requested the Apollo pendant, but the psychic -- who knew better -- sent me the coin version. It sits in my car, awaiting its nobler, grander purpose. It sits like a lump, sad and lonely, probably plotting my downfall.

I like to think -- it gives me comfort -- that the world operates on a principle of balance. So when Things go to shit, like they are, it's bound to flip flop eventually into something that's Not Shit. That's about as far as my hypothesis goes, into the realm of Not Shit.

The simple act of my telling you this, it probably negates all future Not Shit benefits. At least that's how the fairy tales and the fables work. You're not supposed to complain, but rather, suffer in silence, and then eventually you're justly rewarded for your ability to be a push over. Then the story trails off leaving you to suppose that the prince didn't have a wandering eye and that the young maid wasn't a hermaphrodite. But you know the drill. I don't have to tell you.

Yeah, I know. It all falls apart in the second act. And Apollo's just a coin.

Happy Veterans' Day from the Private Sector

Yeah, so. It's all a joke. It's got to be a joke.

I got a letter from my bank yesterday. My credit card's been compromised.

I opened up that letter and I couldn't help laughing. It's like the line in the BNL song, "One Week," "I'm the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral..." There comes a point when everything is nasty and horrible and broken that you've got to force yourself to step back and not take it seriously. You keep it too close and you go mad.

The doctor confirmed that I was having an allergic reaction and now I'm on new pills. They're pretty sure the swollen lymph node is a result of cat scratch disease but we're all waiting (with baited breath) on the results of my latest blood test. Ta da!

I just keep thinking how this could all be worse. And it could, it could be a lot worse. I find myself saying, privately, jokingly: At least I've got my health. Oh, wait...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Irony is Pretty Ironic Sometimes

I look forward to the day when this blog ceases to refer to swollen lymph nodes or medical abnormalities. Today is not that day.

Now I've got a fucking rash. Probably an allergic reaction to one of the many pills I'm taking. I've been ordered off the current antibiotic to another, followed by a Benadryl/Cortisone cocktail. The rash covers my face, arms, back, neck -- just about everywhere that might be uncomfortable for a rash to be. Sort of looks like I've got measles, but I don't. This is all so much easier when there aren't any outward, visible changes. With this creeping red blotchy hot THING manifest destiny-ing my FACE, my shame is now exposed for all the world to see.

The newest hypothesis, besides thyroiditis, is that I have cat scratch. Course I suggested that two weeks ago after Chiana scratched my throat and it swelled up... So there you are. My cute, adorable, darling little kitten may be the culprit. Or she might not. It's anybody's guess at this point.

Not much else to report. Except I saw the most recent "Peter Pan" live-action remake (excellent) and decided my new favorite actor (shut up) is Jason Isaacs (he plays Mr. Darling and Captain Hook). Not until later did I realize that Mr. Isaacs also plays Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. Now I totally want Lord Voldemort to kick Harry Potter's scrawny wizard ass. Because the world needs more Lucius Malfoy.

See? Despite all this health crap, I'm still capable of being a world-class flibberty-gibbit. There's hope for this blog yet.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Another Day, Another Backless Gown

As I lay on the table, a pillow wedged beneath my shoulders, the technician squirted warm gel across my neck. I felt it trickle down the side of my face and neck, mixing, sticking to my still wet hair. With my head snapped back as it was, eyes wide, I thought of other places. I remembered standing on a New York street corner, looking through a card table of used books and yellowed newspapers. There I bought a battered, orange hardcover called "The History of Orgies." I bought it for the inscriptions. On the first page there was a hand-written dedication, dated 1963. It wished the receiver luck on an upcoming production of "Yoo Who Yar Har." On the opposite page, a different someone had meticulously copied the same paragraph -- their handwriting, their words exactly, and set the date twenty years later. But why? For good measure I copied the paragraph a third time and wrote in the new date. My handwriting did look a little like the others. Maybe it was fate.

As the ultrasound progressed, the technician pressed the wand into various chunks of flesh, pausing and hovering and smoothing out the wrinkles in firm, tight circles. And then my perspective shifted, dangerously. The side wall became the ceiling, and the ceiling the side wall. From a higher vantage point than possible, I looked down on the technician. I couldn't focus. I thought, I must be drunk somehow. But even when I'm drunk I've got more control than this. Am I out of body? Acidic bile rushed topside, defying gravity and good sense, and I made the technician stop, sit back. I clamped my hands over my eyes and waited for the spinning to stop.

He said, "It's just because you got your head snapped back. Good thing you're not a pilot. Pilots have to deal with this sort of thing all the time."

For the remainder of the procedure I clamped my eyes tight. I did not risk the spinning room. And maybe, just maybe, I fantasized about stabbing the technician through the chest with his ultrasound wand.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Back in the Saddle

Back from the doctor. Back from Burlington. Back to the blog.

The trip was great -- great and short. Tuesday night we went F1 Kart Racing in Braintree. Our department rented both tracks for half an hour each. We split into eight teams of three then donned funky racing suits, helmets and neck braces. My group was Team Bloodbath. On the first track we did an Endurance race, and on the second track it was Grand Prix style.

Wednesday night we all went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. We were supposed to go on a casino cruise, but weather (winds specifically) did not permit it.

The flight back was uneventful. We came close to missing a connecting flight at LAX. But a little bit of begging and running and two shuttles later, we were squished comfortably on our propellor commuter plane.

Went to see a new doctor this morning. This one specializes in Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT). He thinks I have acid reflux and I don't sleep with my head elevated enough. He sprayed a numbing agent into my nostrils and stuck a tube up my nose and down the back of throat. I was required to make specific humming noises and stick my tongue out. He told me the tube would tickle, but it sort of hurt. But again, I'm a baby. And my teeth are still numb. Then he prescribed two more pills.

I left the clinic with more appointments to remember:

  1. On Monday: Ultrasound on my neck.
  2. On Wednesday: Blood Test at the Lah-bore-ah-tor-EE.
  3. Mid-month: See the hematologist about my reduced platelet count.
  4. Two weeks: Return visit to the ENT.
  5. Dec 1: Return visit to the Endocrinologist.
  6. Meanwhile, start new antibiotic next week and acid reflux medication.
The good news is that my endocrinologist is wonderful. She's been on top of my case since the first appointment, sometimes calling me after hours to check up. She makes me happy.

The doctor's concern -- and I share this concern -- is that my lymph nodes are abnormally large on the left side of my neck. Now, if I tilt my head back, anyone can clearly see the bulge that's developed beneath my jaw. For the most part it doesn't hurt, but it is tender. And on the plane last night, I had a few sharp pains as a result of the swelling being above a nerve.

Words like CAT Scan and biopsy were used today. However, the possibility of cancer was minimalized. I've got two things in my favor: my age -- 27 is young for this sort of thing -- and the fact that I've experienced pain, that generally indicates a viral problem or an inflammation of some kind.

I can't remember if I mentioned this yet, but there's also concern about platelets in my blood. My platelet count is abnormally low. Normal, healthy people have 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. Last month I was at 122,000. This month I have 86,000. (More info on the test they performed here.)

The most important thing about this entry, is that I say all these things but I feel fine. Except for tenderness in my neck, I feel completely normal. This last month has been a complete surprise. I'd like to believe the lab mixed my test results up with someone else, but that's just not the case. I'm also not thinking about what might happen. I'm just going day to day. I worry enough about stupid, trivial things.

That's me in a nutshell (a mighty big nutshell.) Feeling okay, interested in the whole process, hoping it turns out to be nothing, happy with the endocrinologist. And occasionally contributing to my NaNoWriMo word count. Have yourself a merry, little weekend.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Burlington Take Two

Again I find myself in a hotel room, only a few rooms down from where I stayed in August.

The short version: Left home airport at 11:10 AM for LAX. Connecting flight delayed an hour, so we switched to a different flight that left two hours later... I know it sounds weird but stay with me. The original flight had a stopover in Chicago where we were to just sit on the runway for an hour, and the new flight didn't stop except to land in Boston. So we ate lunch at a "Chili's Too" in LAX and boarded our new flight with no problems. I had the best strawberry lemonade of my life.

Our old flight (1400) is scheduled to arrive right now. So instead of sitting in my hotel room with my things unpacked and orderly, I could still be sitting on a runway somewhere.

The new kitten is adorable. I've taken LOTS of pictures, but seeing as how I'm very far from the digital camera, it'll take me about a week to post them. Let me just say, it was hard to get on a plane and leave her behind.

We're all meeting at 8 for breakfast, so I best skedaddle. Because even with the time change, 8 is still going to feel like 5. Bah.