Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Entire Hair

It is impossible to take a flattering picture of yourself using this so-called digital camera. But since my mom has requested a photo of my new haircut, I give you:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Stars of Track and Field We Are

I have a temperamental relationship with my i-pod. Half the time, it doesn't work. It's acted funky ever since it got wet and so it sometimes doesn't shut off and then runs out of steam in the middle of an important walk, leaving my soundtrackless. I was thinking the other day how so many of the bands or songs that I have on it can be attributed specifically to certain guys I dated for either a short or long period of time:

Lemonheads, Toad the Wet Sprocket: The Bartender with the Concave Chest. We went out a few times but he was too young for me and had super skinny legs.

REM (Monster c.d. only), Cracker's "Low": The Other Bartender with the Drinking Problem.

Flaming Lips: Not Over His Wife Yet. I said, I love you. He said, Oh, I think of you fondly! That was the end of that.

Aimee Mann's "That's Just What You Are," Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me": The Poet Who Made Me Numerous Mixes. But who was also too young for me and I think we both just liked making our relationship impossible. Life was more interesting that way.

Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie: The Blue-Eyed Academic with a Temper. He always had great taste in music but often misread my clues to him, either assuming I was into him when I was really thinking what an idiot he was or else not recognizing when I wanted him to kiss me.

Eagle Eye Cherry, "Save Tonight," Marcy's Playground, "Sex and Candy": The Writer in Chicago Who Neglected to Tell Me That He Had a Girlfriend for like Three Years. We never got together, but he did write me this really great letter before I left Chicago confessing his attraction to me.

Liz Phair, particularly "Extraordinary," "Flower," and "Why Can't I": The Political Activist with the Philly Accent Who Was Only Around Four Days out of the Month. Another great and doomed romance. He did help me buy my car though. Before we went to look at cars, I said, I don't want to spend a lot of money. I don't need a new car. I ended up leaving with a new 2003 Mazda Protege. It will be paid off in one year. I can't wait. It was actually a good choice.

There are more, I'm sure, but I must get out into the wider world today.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My New Year's Resolution List

Can't believe it's been a week since I wrote; mainly because I was out of town for a couple of nights to have Christmas at Jodie's brother's house, but also because I've been taking long daily walks and knitting and this has exhausted me completely.

Since I never manage to keep my even most well-meaning resolutions for more than two days, I have decided to create a list that I am sure I can handle:

1. Gain at least twenty-pounds, mostly in my ass and face so that I am disproportionately large and will have to start wearing size 14 pants.

2. Drink more, preferably hard liquor such as cheap gin with tap water.

3. Have meaningless, unfulfilling one-night stands with numerous stupid men.

4. Read fewer books.

5. Stop taking vitamins. Consume more sugar and processed foods.

6. Drive everywhere instead of walking.

7. Discontinue recycling. Insist that produce and such be wrapped in extra plastic bags at the grocery store.

8. Procrastinate as much as possible. Pay all bills late. Leave cat litter alone for weeks at a time.

9. Get more cats.

10. Start bringing cigarettes to work and taking long smoke breaks at least once an hour.

In other news, I got my hair cut today at the wonderful Chop Shop on South Street. My hair is now officially short. You can see my neck. I can't decide if I like it or if it makes me look as though I'm on my way to attend an elementary school soccer game with the other moms.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Farewell, Joseph W. M. or "Sadly Missed"

Yesterday was Joe's last day and he has spent the three weeks since giving his notice locked in his office trying to finish a feature and tie up loose ends. I did manage to drag him out to the dollar store where he bought me a Diet Coke (50 cents). Later, we all went to Lucky Strikes for a fare thee well hurrah and I had the lowest score, mainly because I can't throw the ball without spinning it or thunking it directly into the gutter. I discovered that Joe is excellent at recognizing movie quotes in like one line, particularly those related to Top Gun. He also got ones from Bull Durham and The Princess Bride ("As you wish.") Did not get the one from Pretty Woman.

Joe wore a bowling shirt and approached the lane with his quiet confidence. Alberta, who claims to have never been in a bowling alley in her life, beat out Joe by a few points to be the surprise winner. I had secretly hoped I would be a natural bowler, but I was not. The only real casualty of the day was my pride. Next, we went to McSomething's Irish bar and ordered pitchers of beer and told Joe stories all of which were innocuous because he's fairly opaque; or rather, uber professional and does not bring much of his personal life to work with him. He is also unfailingly polite. He never just says "thank you," he always says, "thank you very much." And if you really get him stirred up, he will sometimes say, "Enough" and then you feel like a puppy who has been hit on the nose with a newspaper. That said, you can occasionally get him to reveal something surprising such as the location of his tattoo.

After a few beers, the party dwindled. People had trains to catch, bags to pack, food to eat. Joe announced that he was going home. I said, Yeah, but maybe first we should go to Dirty Frank's for a beer. Was surprised to find that he agreed and also that he knew how to get there. Dirty Frank's is this really divey bar with locals and regulars and a dart board. We played darts and in between each turn, I suggested that we ask each other questions, one last ditch attempt to know something more about him. His first question to me was: "What's your favorite color?" I hope he doesn't ask these kinds of questions during his story interviews. "How did you like school?" Of course, my questions were perhaps too personal like, What are you most afraid of? And, What's the worst thing you've ever done? And, Tell me something nobody else knows about you. He took it in stride and did eventually ask me more interesting questions like, What's your favorite animal? (No, better than that).

Before we left, I borrowed a pen from him and wrote on the paneled wall "Joseph William McLaughlin taught me to play darts here. 12/21/07." Thirty years from now when he moves back to Philadelphia to retire, maybe it will still be there. Or not.

In his empty office, he left behind only one single personal possession, a dead, phallic cactus leaning slightly to the right. I suspect he did it as a symbolic last message of his feelings. I'm also guessing he's not the kind of person who looks back and it is quite likely we'll never hear from him again. Maybe I'm mistaken and he will surprise me again by being a prolific letter writer ala someone from the 1700s, sending hand-written notes on thick paper sealed with red wax. That seems unlikely. "But you're already gone, aren't you?" Name that movie and let me know when Grace finally takes her first steps.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More windows (or: When Will Someone Yell at Me?)

Here are the most unhappiest Christmas dolls that ever existed, followed by the most ornate reindeer that ever existed. South Philly is the best place for finding superlatives.

Find the kitty:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I hate you, I hate you, I love you, I hate you

I am having some difficulty lately keeping my emotions in check, must be the whole dark weather thing and no sunlight and my toe hurts and also I really, really need to take a shower. I can't wait to get home to do that. But something that does make me laugh is this video that I finally figured out how to upload to blogger. This is what my cousin Steph, my Aunt JoAnne and I did on Friday night. We made lego constructions; JoAnne's was the most abstract. At one point, she said that we wouldn't be allowed to go to bed until all of the 5,000 pieces were used up. I like this video b/c you can see how often she uses her hands to express herself. Like, she didn't know I was focusing just on a close-up, but still, she's very expressive. She could be a hand model for QVC for sure.

Here are two other photos of windows I passed in South Philly on my way to work and then on my way back. The first has a sign you probably can't read that says "God Bless America with a new a new president." The second one is much cooler than it looks in this photo--it's a bunch of ornaments and pretty lights.

I love my new digital camera. I am wary of taking too many photos of my house though because then you'll see all the cat dustballs like tumbleweeds cartwheeling across the dirty floor.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Safe and Sound

I have made it home, though to do so, I spent sixteen hours at the airport before my flight was due to taxi down the runway. Mom's plane left at 9-ish from Omaha so we had to leave Giltner at 6-ish and then my flight to Minneapolis took off at 2:30. I finally arrived at 9:45 p.m. and was giddy to see the cats. Nothing of note on any of the flights, except that I sat next to a guy on the ride to Philadelphia who didn't bring anything to read or look at or do. He just stared at his hands. He tried to talk to me, but I'm not very friendly. He said, Did you go home for the holidays? I said, Yes, no. I mean, I went to Omaha but now I'm going home to Philadelphia. He said, Huh. I didn't ask him any questions. I pretended to be suddenly interested in my NY Times crossword puzzle. The woman on the other side of me snoozed most of the way, which was fine. Even though I had a long day, the flights seemed to go quickly--must be faster coming back to Philly, plus we had the wind on our side, guiding us home more quickly. The only thing to do on a flight is to close your eyes and to try to fantasize about kissing one of your crushes (I currently have three). But I am not good at this fantasizing thing, because something always gets in the way. For instance, I was trying to imagine kissing this one guy and trying to be very realistic about how that would happen but still trying to make it interesting, so I imagined him cornering me in the coat closet and saying, We could hop up on here (the counter), but then that made me think of the movie Top Gun and how Maverick tried to seduce Kelly McGillis in the bathroom and then I thought of their love scene and how Tom Cruise is so short that KMcG had to slump against the wall and then there's this one part of the scene where they're kissing and you can see their spit which is completely gross and then I thought about how Tom is probably gay and the whole thing is this big PR initiative to make him seem straight and then I wondered if Katie Holmes was really happy or just brain washed by Scientology and next I thought about going to the Chop Shop to have my hair cut like hers as it appears in the latest issue of In Style. Finally, I realized that I had totally lost the thread of my supposed fantasy, but didn't have the energy to start all over again.

Thank you to all my aunties and uncles and cousins who were so nice to me and mom on our visit. And thank you to Carrie (and Padhraig) for watching the kitties and leaving me three presents under the tree to open for Christmas (one from each cat). And now, off to bed to dream of snowbanks, horses, and horses in snowbanks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Friend, Flicka

Here is the pony who shall star in our film. Her name is Shasta. Is she not beautiful, for spacious skies? Now all we need is a Ken doll and we shall be in business.

Tonight, we ate macaroni and Velveeta cheese and chicken nuggets. Even as I type this, Sam is putting together a train display for the holidays. He is meticulously setting up Lego tiers so that we can see all of the trains.

The Virgin Mary is Watching

This is a quite blurry photo of the Virgin Mary that lives on my grandma's back patio. I tried also to take a picture of the trees in the back yard, but couldn't get them in focus. I was hoping that I would be really good at photography, you know, like some kind of instant prodigy, but I'm not. It would help if I would read the instructions that came with the camera, but why would I want to make it easier?
In other news, my cousin Stephanie is going to help me with this stop motion photography project that Lisa Marie and I want to do. Did I write about this before? Can't remember. Well, my parents brought me my childhood dollhouse when they last visited and so I thought it would be fun to use it to make a short video for YouTube or whatever. The song I want to use is Tracey Ullman's "They Don't Know About Us" and it will involve these secret loves that each member of the family has. So Steph is finding me a rugged Ken doll and will also supply a plastic horse. That is all I can say about it for now. I will give $20 to anyone who can find me an Earring Magic Ken doll. I never had Ken growing up. My mom got me a G.I. Joe doll with a buzz cut and combat boots. His hair fell out in patches. My Barbies scoffed at him, but he was the only thing in town, so they often had to put up with his heavy-handed advances.
Today, we will go to lunch and then over to grandma's and then I guess us cousins are getting together to drink wine and talk trash on everyone not present. I am lucky enough to have lots of girl cousins within five months of my age (our mother's all decided to have baby girls at the same time).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cheetos: The Opiate of the Masses

I'm staying at my Aunt JoAnne's and she has some of the best food that I never get to eat such as Cheetos. I don't know how much actual cheese or real food are incorporated into Cheetos (I believe it's 1% cheese powder and 99% chemicals), but I really don't care because they are so good. I am leaving orange fingerprints everywhere I go. I must be careful not to commit a crime before I shower as they will surely be able to track me down.

Yesterday, we went to the mall and Best Buy and got my Christmas present. Can you guess what it is? Are you wondering if from here on out you might be inundated by various photos of the cats doing really nothing exceptional? Over and over? You will. Pictured above, you will see a lovely photograph of my one and only mother. Below, please find my most artistic photo to date. Those are the legs of my grandmother. As you can see, I am a natural with the digital camera. Please note that it is 3 degrees above zero and she's wearing sandals. I asked her about this yesterday and she said that it didn't matter because her toes are usually numb. I said that it does matter because socks and sandals are a total fashion faux pas at any age.

Not sure what we're doing today, though it may involve pizza and soap operas. Mom is making a list of movies to recommend for my grandma to rent. I suggested Little Women, but she's probably already seen it. If you have any age-appropriate suggestions (she's 89), please feel free to send them. Nothing with extended car chases though such as Smokey and the Bandit.
Oh, yeah, and I have been emailing with Julie today and she suggested that I write a novel about all of my bad dates/boyfriends. I wrote back to tell her that it would have to be an encyclopedia because A-C would take up like 400 pages. But I don't know how I would structure it. It would have to span from age 5-current since I was precocious and had crushes on boys from the moment I was allowed in public. I remember being in kindergarten and trying to position my sleep rug so that I could be next to this cute little black boy named Daryl. He would put his hand on my knee while we napped. I was a flirt for the word go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snow and snow and fields and more snow

Oh, and cute little rabbit pawprints in the snow which I spotted last night in JoAnne's front yard. We also saw several pheasants dorkily running across the road and Grandpa's farm lit up with white lights. Very pretty and strange too to keep running into these achingly familiar yet distant things like the Hoffman's mailbox and the Giltner water tower and the long stretches of white dotted with cows and horses here and there and brown stalks of corn peeking out of the ground. My Aunt M. brought over a shoebox of old photos from when I was little and also my mom's childhood pictures and it's great and sad to see all of us there, particularly grandpa. There's a photo of him holding me, I'm one year old or so, and he's about to give me a bath in a tub in the kitchen and he's kissing my cheek and seeing it, I thought, Oh, he loved me so so much. How lucky I was to have that and also how hard it was to lose it.

Today, we will go back over to Grand Island to see grandma. We already ordered our suppers (I first wrote "dinner," but here, "dinner" really means "lunch" and supper is what you eat in the evening). I think we might also go to the mall for awhile or maybe to the library. You have to kind of try to be Zen here because there are so many people and each one has an opinion about the way things should go and so you sort of have to just let yourself go along for the ride.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Heart the Heartland

After traveling for 72 hours yesterday, finally made it to Omaha and then on to Grand Island (where my grandma lives) and then to Giltner (population 204 + me now) . Oops, have to run. More later...


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Artsy Girls and Boys:Entry Rated "R" b/c of Willies

Went with Lisa Marie and her bf John and my other friend Ingrid S. to a couple of art shows this weekend. For the occasion, I attempted to look more alternative by putting my hair in two side buns ala Princess Leia. I believe I looked slightly like a very special girl who should've also been wearing a crash helmet. At one place, we were crammed into a room with 1,001 hipsters and a man dressed as a woman who was the photographer. Please, please, please God do not let my photo appear on any art web sites; I don't photograph well when I haven't had five minutes to practice my fake smile. I always come off as appearing shocked and discombobulated as though someone has just told me that my skirt is tucked into my underwear. I couldn't tell you what the art was like; there were too many people blocking it. Then we walked 500 blocks to Vox Populi, this great loft space in Chinatown. They had a video installation on running loop; I only saw two of them. The first was a girl fake performing an ice skating routine in her socks. I thought it was funny and clever. Lisa Marie was less impressed. The other video was a send up of Sex in the City, four girls wearing wigs and having unwitty, badly acted dialogue in a diner + nakedness (the woman playing Samantha showed her boobs). I yawned. I can be a snotty bitch sometimes. Next, we went to see the work of Lisa Marie's friend, Josh Rickards. I think this is the second show of his that I've seen; can't remember if the previous one was also at Vox, though I think it was. Josh is a hipster boy with funky black glasses and snappy blue eyes. I ran into him on the street the other day when I was carrying home my artificial pink Christmas tree from Circle Thrift. I made him hold the tree while I showed him the equally bright white wreath with lights. Occasionally, I meet people who don't immediately react to my quick familiarity with fear. He is one such person. His work is also bright--lots of bold colors and portraits of people with phallic noses (please note that I did not use the word "penis." My friend Hillel hates the word penis and whenever I try to use it, he asks me to say "willie" instead. Not that it comes up often).

My favorite piece in this show was a painting of a majestic lion dressed in 70s clothes; I believe he had on stripped pants and a belt buckle. He might have been even holding a glass of brandy in his paw; not sure (if not, it should be added). Lisa Marie and I interrogated him about the use of the phallic noses. I said, So, are you a big fan of Freud? He had three reasons at the ready as to why he does that. I can't recall exactly the three things, but one of them had something to do with the nose being the easiest facial part to remove or change ala Michael Jackson. I said, How does that relate to your artist's statement about human connections? He said, It really doesn't. In searching for his images, I read a review of his work that compares it to the Simpson's. I think that's a stupid comparison; his work is cartoonish but it's also a little dark; I mean, none of the figures he paints are particularly attractive; reminds me more of Crumb; edgy, shocking, a little grotesque but still very human and exposed.

Another piece I like of his is this one he has of a reclining nude man with a moustache and a li'l vulnerable penis (sorry, H.) lying to the side like its just exhausted. I love it because you don't often see paintings like this; we're all totally fine with naked gals and we have The Vagina Monologues and women have been objectified since God was a baby, but you just never get to see naked men posed in reclining postures, offering themselves up in all of their bare pink, white or browness. I thought he was doing a satire of a female nude; a tribute to a Modigliani or a Lempicka or a Matisse or any one of a number of photos in Penthouse. It turns out that he was inspired by Burt Reynolds suave nakedness in a 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan or Playgirl, depending on what kind of Google search you do. I offered to buy the painting from him, saying I would pay him $10 a month for the next 20 years. He said, It doesn't cost that much. We then struggled to figure out what $10 a month would amount to in that span of time and both came up blank. He said, Well, it's only $250. So then I guess I could pay him a quarter a month for the next two decades. Does that work? Also, he copied me and bought a red Christmas tree from Circle Thrift. I take full credit for it. He also promised to let me drive him to the shelter to buy a dog after the holidays. I hope we can go to a no-kill shelter; otherwise, I will end up bringing home two one-legged dogs, five blind cats, a llama and a miniature pony. But if you really want to be nice to me, buy me this painting:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"The Horror, The Horror," of Our Last Class

We had our last painful graduate class with our theatrical teacher and the assorted cast of characters minus the angry lesbian and the dude who answered his cell phone during class, left to buy soup and slurped it up while we were discussing Lawrence, and checked his email from his laptop. Occasionally, he also said something. Who else? Agnes, whom I love because she has a beautiful accent and is shy and pretty and shares the same name as my grandmother. Molly, my friend and co-worker, who would never look at me during class for fear of bursting out laughing and several times unsuccessfully attempted to open bags of pretzels and failed because of the crinkling noise. The Jesus guy, and a few other people who tried very hard to pretend we were learning something and not just stuck in a show starring our loud, dramatic instructor who boomed out pronouncements in voice loud enough to induce Molly's migraines.

On the last night, I presented my analysis of "The Death of Ivan Ilych" along with another woman, Suzanne, and we offered cookies. After we finished our presentation, the teacher first fakely told us how much she enjoyed our conversations and found them to be stimulating and interesting (she meant her monologues). Then, we went around the room to tell everyone what our favorite book was even though none of us much cared to know.

The worst/best/worst moment occurred when it was the turn of this girl who has a physical disability; I don't know what it is, but she uses a walker. She said that her favorite book was Kafka's Metamorphosis because she identified with Gregor Samsa as people often look at her as though she is an insect. An honest and brave pronouncement told with not an ounce of self-pity but our teacher cried, Oh, no, Katie! (You're name is Katie, right?). We don't think of you like that! We think of you as one of our own. We would never think of you as an insect, unless, of course, it were a katydid! (I made the last part up). Katie said, Well, I didn't mean you guys do...The teacher said, Kandy, we have grown very fond of you. Never think of yourself that way, never! It was a perfect surreal moment.

I've signed up for two classes next semester, one that I think is about pop culture and the other is a Saturday graduate playwriting course wherein I will be the only pupil. No one else has signed up for it yet. I believe it will be cancelled. I also tried to register for a graduate fiction course by asking the department head for special permission, but she hasn't responded yet. I doubt she will let me do it. I've tried and failed before. We'll see.
Last night, read Steve Martin's autobiography about his decades as a comic, Born Standing Up. My favorite part of the entire book was the caption to one of his childhood pictures showing his family sitting around a kitchen table: "Our family in a Texas diner, circa 1949. Me, my mother, my father, and Melinda. I don't know who the woman in the middle is, unless we happened to be having lunch with Virginia Woolfe." She did bear an uncanny resemblance, down to the demure bun. I'm also reading Mansfield Park, which is entertaining, but I am kind of sick of Miss Fanny Price and her blushes and sweet demeanor. How does Austen manage to write in almost all dialogue and still paint a vivid picture? Almost all of her writing is telling what's happening next with very little description of place or characters or things. Still, you can see it all. I'm guessing that Fanny and her cousin Edward will end up together. They were allowed to marry their cousins in those days. That's why everyone's eyesight is so bad now.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Our President is a Fucking Idiot

I should not be surprised that instead of admitting any kind of wrong-doing or lying or bullshit or intentional cover-up for financial gain, the president responded to the knowledge that Iran has absolutely no nuclear weapons and halted production four years ago, by saying we should still be afraid. We must still blow them up. I cannot listen to this primate masquerading as a human masquerading as a leader speak. He sounds like an illiterate Southerner. We have a president who cannot pronounce words, you guys. Who sounds as though he's speaking through a mouthful of cotton or the haze of Oxycotin. I'm sure I've said this before, but how is it that we twice elected someone who cannot pronounce the word "nuclear" and instead says "newclur" every single time? I like Barak Obama but I am sure he won't win. I am not confident that Hillary will win either. I honestly don't think our country is progressive enough to elect a female president. We're still too backward. We still worry about what will happen if Hillary has to meet with Putin when she's "on her period." Get thee in the hut! Although, shouldn't she be going through or finished with menopause already? I do not know.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Channel Six Presents Extreme Home Manipulation

I swear to you that I never watch these prime time make-over shows, especially after I read that some of the families who had their houses made over later found themselves in big financial trouble because they couldn't afford the taxes on the much bigger property (I think this problem was resolved in later episodes). However, NPR was playing some kind of nerve-jangling jazz and Bravo had on a rerun of Criminal Intent and so I started watching this network show and I swear to God, within four minutes, I was in tears. And you know how I mostly only cry when physically wounded.

But come on, this family was ridiculous; a wife and husband and their four adorable tow-headed children, all of whom were suffering from some life-threatening illness that would likely kill them before the end of the hour. It was some kind of blood disease or boy in the plastic bubble disease where they were allergic to oxygen and couldn't eat food but had to be fed through (discrete) feeding tubes. But of course, they were all also well-mannered and sweet.

I tried not to blame the parents for continuing to have kids after the first two were born doomed; I didn't see the beginning of the show so maybe they didn't know about the rare rare disease until it was too late. But if they did know, why did they keep having children? Anyway, that gross looking guy from EHM with the craggy voice and boy band haircut came in and asked each of the kids what they loved the most and they picked Star Wars, Winnie-the-Pooh, cowgirls, and I forget what the other one was. So, of course the people on the show then decorated the kids' rooms in thematic ways and gave them tons and tons of toys and Star Wars figures directly from Steven Spieldberg's house! And they sent the whole family to Philadelphia to a specialist who informed them that their kids could eat grapes and melon balls. We all cried.Next, they told the dad that CVS was going to pay for all of their kids medication and medical bills AND pay for the dad to go through medical school. We cried some more. At the big reveal, the family was informed that air ducts were built into the house so that the kids would only be breathing hospital quality air and they even had a separate, completely sterile kitchen for the mom to prepare their fruit and formula. The children loved their rooms and sang Winne the Pooh songs. Father was taken out back and given a huge SUV. I forget what else. But good Lord!

Next week, they're featuring a family where the daughter is severely handicapped and twisted up on herself in a wheelchair. Because of her physical difficulties, she can't communicate with anyone and I think the show centers around giving her the ability to "speak" through some kind of computer program. I will not watch it, I promise.

Spent some time this weekend walking around the city with Lisa Marie who needed to take pictures of words and images for one of her classes. She also took a few for me, namely those below. Look, look at the super scary Mrs. Claus who is about to attack the demure Virgin Mary in the forefront. And in the same window, we have the very cranky Baby Jesus surrounded by
cows, horses, and elves (not pictured). Finally, above left is the sign I passed for several weeks and thought it read "gentle" killing and was relieved.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Blood-letting: It is What it Is

Instead of wearing hairnets and dumping instant mashed potatoes on plastic trays at a shelter, our office opted to give bodily fluids for the holidays. We all signed up, went to lunch at the Draft Horse beforehand, and then bravely headed to Liacouras Center where we were each asked in turn in three different ways if we had slept with prostitutes, had unprotected sex with someone who was HIV+, had the skin on our body replaced in the last several months, any new tattoos or piercings, or been partying it up in Africa. I held my tongue about my years in the early eighties turning tricks in Haiti while recovering from my heroin addiction brought on by difficult my kidney transplant.

One of the best things about my job is the people I work with. Everybody is great in a different way; Greg is unbelievably funny, Alberta is calm and caring, Joe will answer any question you pose without pause or judgement (yesterday, I asked him if he thought he was born in the wrong time period. He didn't say, Why are you asking? He said, I used to think that), and Stephanie is a mixture of earnest and cynical that I really like. When we get together as group, I laugh until I have tears in my eyes.
The donation process was not bad at all. The thing that hurt the most was the finger prick at the beginning. It is only grody if you think about the fact that you are voluntarily letting your blood drain out of your body. The really weird thing is seeing your co-workers blood or other odd things, like Joe was across the room from me lying on the gurney with his feet facing me. I thought, Huh, so that's what the bottom of Joe's shoes look like.

As we were nibbling on our cookies after donating, we had a collective moment of hysteria. Granted, we were all a little punchy after having a pint of blood drained out of our bodies, but we couldn't stop laughing when I pointed out this unfortunate little man who was lying on a nearby gurney and had the hairiest, most ape-like arms I've ever seen in my life and bare shiny elbows. It didn't help that he had both arms in the air and so appeared as though he were about to swing from a vine. We had to use the napkins to wipe our eyes. Also, when we were all lying there on these gurneys waiting to be stuck by needles, Greg sat up and said, If I don't make it out of this, please know that I have always loved you. Then he laid back down. A few minutes later, he said, Aimee, don't go into the light!

The experience also brought Stephanie and I together as she experienced a wave of nausea after giving blood. I think part of it was brought on by the detailed explanation given by one of the volunteers describing the joys of platelet donation. She got up to go to the restroom and I asked her if she wanted me to come with her and she said yes, which surprised me. I would probably rather die than throw up in front of someone. But she was completely calm the entire time. Did not get upset and was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, even had the presence of mind to ask me for my hair tie. She did not get sick, though I don't know how she managed because the bathroom was disgusting. We returned to the cookie table and one of the Red Cross people asked her if she was okay and she said she felt a little woozy and they immediately went into Operation Something's Finally Happening Mode and made her lay down and put really cold compresses on her forehead and neck. She was ashen. I have not ever really seen anyone go pale and wan in a matter of seconds, but she did. I guess the Red X people knew what they were doing because a few minutes later, she bounced back, rosy-cheeked.