Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Report: Bodily Fluids

Place: Bloomington Red Cross
Date: 01/30/07
Arrival time: 11:59
Position in the queue: 1 (Got there as they unlocked the doors.)
Soundtrack: Bob Marley and the Wailers, incl. "Lively Up Yourself"
# of mutton chops in attendance: 4!
Last movie I watched: The Science of Sleep
Last movie the be-chopped nurse watched: Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima double feature.
Pulse: 66
Temperature: 97.8
BP: 130/90 (Too much peanut butter pie and scotch and not enough water last night.)
# sphygmomanometers used: 2 (3 including the one that failed)
Amount of blood drawn: 1 pint
# Hit Points lost: 2 (though I think I'm more fey now)
# of sticks: 2 (one in the finger; one in the arm)
# times needle had to be repositioned: 2 (ugh!)
In-flight movie: End of Shrek 2; beginning of The Dark Crystal
# times this particular phlebotomist at this particular RC has told me how to squeeze the ball: about 4
Snacks consumed: 8 oz. OJ; 2 Li'l Debbie Nutty Bars; 8 peanut butter crackers
Time at which I can remove the band-aid: after 5p
Bruising: So far, none.
Departure time: 12:55
Post-donation lunch: Bloomingon Sandwich Co.; half BSC sub (good; huge!); cup of vegetarian chili (eh); 0.087 oz. potato salad; pickle spear!; bunch of water

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Where to Begin?

Well, I hear a lot of people talk about how rough their 2006 was. People, my 2005 ate your 2006 for breakfast sans coffee. You know -- the kind of breakfast where you wake up late and are in a big hurry to get up and out and moving, no Nutty Nuggets, no egg sandwich, no apple, not even a “fun size” candy bar? Unfortunately, 2006 was the mailman my 2005 plowed into on its way out the door, and all the blogging, poetry, and intense amounts of “serious” e-mails were so much scattered muddy post on the rainy front walk of my being.

I got sick right before X-mas. Way sick. I haven’t been that ill since I was very young. The amount of material that came out of me was legendary, lemme tell ya. I went to a solstice party and the host had contracted what he thought was food poisoning a couple of days before. Not so! It was the norovirus, we believe, as about 20% or so of the attendees came down with identical symptoms within 24 hours of the party. What symptoms, you ask? Why, 12 hours of extreme gastrointestinal distress followed by 12 hours of extreme exhaustion and dehydration. And buboes. (Okay, I’m kidding about the buboes but it would not have surprised me.) I contracted this bit of nastiness from my lady violinist friend, who contracted it directly from the soiree and whom I had to take to the ER early in the morning a couple of days post-party. She was dry as a corn husk! And that’s pretty dry!

Anyway, I managed to heal enough to get on a plane around noon the day after I was felled. I spent the week of X-mas with my lady violinist friend and her family and college friends in Pennsylvania. “What?!” I can hear you all gasping incredulously. “When did you guys get so serious?” Jeez, I dunno, probably sometime in our past 8 months together. When did y’all realize there was grass growing under your shoes? I take “meet the parents” stuff with a grain of salt anyway. I mean meeting someone’s parents (or friends or professors or what have you) just doesn’t carry the weight of import (for me) that maybe it once did. Chalk it up to experience. Chalk it up to being an “authority figure” my own damn self. I’m truly comfortable enough in my own skin not to care if I’m making a good impression. Pressure’s off. Let’s eat.

It was a good week, though. Her crazy Jewish mother and unwaveringly patient mad scientist father, as well as her long-suffering teenage klutz of a brother, all were very gracious and kind and genuine. State College was a blast from her past: there we hung out with college friends and professors and I managed to hold my own both at her old haunt Zeno’s (think Bear’s backroom-sized Bluebird with an acoustic C&W band and no smoking ban) and at her composition professor’s holiday party. (Electronic composers find foley fascinating btw.) The Hershey chocolate factory tour was not nearly as Willy Wonka-ish as one might expect (and hope for), but hey, we were in Hershey. Couldn’t pass that up.

Philly was nice but we weren’t there long enough to soak up much of it. The art museum ruled, the Mutter Museum really ruled, and Lolitas, a BYOtequila restaurant, was excellent.

Philly Museum of Art. Moose not to scale.

Mars in the morning: blurry.

Aw shucks.

This was a different kind of trip than the one to California this summer. Mari hadn’t been home in about a year, so rather than an activity-packed vacation, this was more a meet-n-greet catch-up visit home, for her anyway. I was “merely” along for the ride, and, considering my diminished state at the start of the trip, that was juuust fine. We were gone a day or two too long, though, I thought. Too much family. Too much down time. Too many pending commitments waiting for me when I got home. If only I hadn’t gotten sick, I’d have had a day or two to work on some freelance gigs that are now nearly overdue, and while that didn’t affect me on the trip it made me a little antsy and pissy, I think, once I got home. It’s hard for me to completely enjoy a vacation when I feel like I don’t “deserve” it. No regrets here! It was a great trip and I loved seeing where my lady violinist friend came from, but getting sick truly sucked and screwed me. I don’t recommend it, if you’re considering it.

Back in the great underwhelming Midwest, Mars came with me for a post-X-mas visit to visit my crazy Protestant family. Now, I skipped X-mas proper with the fam for a reason. In short, family drama I wanted to avoid. My sister, who very vocally and actively interfered with/disapproved of me and my relationship with my ex-wife (especially our non-denominational, unconventional, heathen wedding ceremony), got married last year to a guy she met in the UK, but then she shocked everyone (understandably so) when they showed up at her wedding and she (unannounced) was 8 months pregnant. (Surprise!) I just didn’t want to get sucked into any of that at the moment, thanks (especially after being told by my other sister that I would be leaned on for support).

But I did want to see everyone, even the new husband and baby, and Mari, Allah bless her, actually likes members of my family, so it was all good. We even made rosettes, which we did every X-mas when I was a kid. I also realized I get to be avuncluar now, and I intend to be the uncle who teaches Liz how to spit, swear, back sass, and in general mock her strict upbringing. I also shall be the only family member who calls her Liz. Everyone else has been told "it's Elizabeth." Oh, the days are just packed!

Grandpa with grandkid.

New Years was a blast, as one might expect: dinner party at my place, party around the corner with old friends, then we ended up across town at a mini-rave dance party New Years thingie. This was a great way to ring in the year, although I’m still pondering the decision of the last song before midnight. Seems the DJ had 6 hours of tunes programmed, and many of the songs were themed, starting with songs about “10” all the way to songs dealing with “1”: a countdown of sorts. The number one song? “One Week” by Bare Naked Ladies. I dunno, it just seemed a little anticlimactic to me. But the rest of the night was most excellent and I was thrilled to pieces to have my lady violinist friend, who looked absolutely OMG HAWT, on my arm and elsewhere all night.

So yeah, life is good, and 2006 wasn’t so bad, for me anyway. In many ways it was quite grand. It was a Year of Change and I rolled with it well enough. Heavy thoughts have been plaguing me early in the New Year, though, and I’m sure they will for some time. I’m in a “serious relationship” now, gentle readers, and that makes me very happy. Actually I think I’ve been in one for a little while now, but only recently realized that the tickling at my feet isn’t just a neat sensation. It means something’s growing, and I’ve not felt this way in a good long while. I’m floored most of the time. Mari is great and what we share is a beautiful thing to focus on, a sure sign that I’m “over” a good bit of my bellyful of bitterness. It’s a little scary, though. Terrifying, honestly, in that rollercoaster way of important things about which you’re simultaneously excited and trepidatious. But I’m looking forward to a great year and all it holds.