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Wrapping Up November

December 1, 2008

November 21, 2008Vlada and I travelled downtown to the Ahmanson to see Spring Awakening, or ‘the German sex musical,’ as I like to call it.  She was half-asleep from a long day at work, and I was still recovering from the Virus That Ate My Soul, so we were a couple of regular party animals.  Fortunately the show was not a waste of 87 bucks a pop, and our seats, which seemed so far away on the little online diagram, were centered and slightly elevated, just enough for me to have an unimpeded view of the stage.

The show, for those of you who have been living under a rock or just someplace other than Germany since 1890, is about hormones.  Hormones and puberty.  The play itself is old – really, really old – and takes place way back in the day when there was no sex education and lots of accidents happened.  (19th century Germany could easily be present-day Nevada.)  This emotional story of lust, depression, sex, and teenage rebellion is set to rock music.  American rock music.  And it shouldn’t work, but somehow it does, most probably because the musical seems to exist in a dream state, with a Spartan set that relies almost entirely on lighting cues.  A cautionary tale about abstinence-only education, the show is in many ways timeless.  (A really fascinating essay about the disconnect between the moral opinions and actions of evangelicals versus social liberals which serves as a mirror to the show was recently in The New Yorker.)  The juxtaposition between the music and the play only highlights the similarities between then and now, except that occasionally the old fashioned vernacular seems strange coming out of such modern mouths.

I can’t say the acting was the best I’ve ever seen, but the voices certainly were amazing.  The entire cast was in their twenties or younger, some even still in college, minus the two adults who played all the adult roles.  Both the lead male actors impressed, but particularly Blake Bashoff who played the suicidal Moritz, better known to me as Karl, Alex Linus-Rousseau’s boyfriend on Lost.  The girl playing Wendla (pronounced Vend-la, that’s how you know it’s German) gave a performance of “Mama Who Bore Me” that I want on my iPhone, and the reprise with all the girls really rocked.  Everyone was over the top, but it’s theater.  You have to over-act in theater. 

I managed to refrain from singing along outloud, though I did mouth the words to “The Bitch of Living” and “Then There Were None.”  Though the message doesn’t really apply to me, I couldn’t help getting choked up.  As I tell everyone when describing Spring Awakening – how could you not love a musical with a song called “Totally Fucked”?

November 22nd, 2008 – Got a haircut.  It was an exciting day.  I’ve also started to poke my nose around into this freelancing business, keeping an eye on Helium.  I really want to get a new MacBook Air (preferably before the February AWP Conference in Chicago), with a solid state drive to prevent overheating and increase durability, so every so often the idea of making extra cash seems really appealing.  Then cold, harsh reality sets in.   I sent a few emails to posters from craigslist and have received a whopping zero replies to my inquiries.  Oh craigslist, you’re like that friend of mine from middle school – entertaining, often surprising, but ultimately fickle with a side of crazy.

November 25th, 2008 – Having missed my second MRI appointment on the 24th due to sheer forgetfulness, I set two alarms and showed up at 1:15 to be shoved into a metal tube.  I’ve had MRIs before, but this one was a nightmare.  My “technologist” was either incompetent or just sadistic.  In order to get the right view of my scapula, she and her assistant strapped me down.  “I feel like I’m being committed,” I quipped, trying to keep any anxiety at bay with my standard arsenal of sarcasm.  My left arm was hot-dogged in a foam bun and pinned to my side, my other arm resting on my stomach.  My legs were propped up, but because I have hyperextension it probably made me more uncomfortable, and because thanks to years of wearing a fifty-pound backpack my spine is concave, I can’t lie flat on a hard surface (how tragic, no counter-top makeout sessions in my future.)  Once they were finally done trussing me up, I entered the tube.  From the moment that the bench started moving, I had my eyes closed.  This is standard MRI procedure; though I don’t consider myself claustrophobic, having the ceiling an inch from my eye would freak me out, especially since I couldn’t move even if I wanted to.  Of course, once you tell yourself not to open your eyes, that’s all you want to do.  Goddamn reverse psychology.

Cedar’s Sinai Imaging offers music to try and drown out the thumping and knocking, so I had ear plugs and then gigantic headphones engulfing half my face.  The radio was tuned to 98.7, and so I listened to Christmas commercials for the first ten minutes.  The machine made a few noises, but it wasn’t until something like four pop, two rap, and one alternative songs later (time is meaningless in the MRI), that I realized it wasn’t banging like it was supposed to.  Then I heard, very distantly, the voice of the technition over the P.A.

“…going to start now.”

My right hand was asleep.  My legs were starting to ache, and there was a shooting pain in my left arm from the funny position.  I had been counting on freedom, and I really, really wanted to open my eyes.  Then the machine started its rhythmic pounding.  Shit.  I knew that we were only now just getting the necessary imaging.  What the hell she’d been doing for the first forty-five minutes I was trapped in there I have no idea, since she didn’t say a single word to me.

Another twenty minutes, and that’s when the pain started to flair in my hip.  It’s an old issue, most likely stemming from the surgery I had in that area, but when it strikes it’s a stretching, burning pain, and there’s very little I can do about it except try to stretch it out.  Stretching is hard when you’re strapped to a plank in a metal tube.

I tried to wait it out, I tried to just relax, to keep from panicking, but by that point, I wanted out.  I was so uncomfortable, in a ridiculous amount of pain, that eventually I couldn’t take it.  “Hello?” I called out, blind.  “How much longer?”  Silence.  Jesus Christ, I thought.  Has she actually left the frickin’ room?  I called out again.  “Hello?”  On my third try, I actually got a response.  A testy, “Yes?”

“Do you know how much longer?” I asked, and my voice was actually tremulous.  I couldn’t believe I was freaking out this much, but it was just so awful, and I felt like I’d been in there forever. 

“Just one more,” she said, meaning one more round of thumps and bumps.  “22 seconds.”  “Okay,” I squeaked, and tried to concentrate on taking deep breaths.

“This isn’t working,” she said 22 seconds later.  “Are you moving?”

I had wriggled my toes; honestly, did she think I was head-banging to Death Cab for Cutie?  “No,” I snapped.  “Look, I’m starting to get a really bad pain in my hip…”

“Well, we’ll get you out of there.  You’re going to have to hold your breath.  When I say…” 

I held my breath, which is not the best thing to do for an already panicking person in a small confined space.  Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, they pulled me out, without so much as a smile.  The technologist stayed at her desk, doing God knows what, and the nurse/assistant wished me a good day.

I was supremely tempted to tell him to go fuck himself.

November 27th, 2008 – Thanksgiving.  Pilot and I arrived at LA Dogworks at eleven a.m. and found a sign on the door that said due to ‘overbooking,’ daycare hours would end at 8.  Well that would just not do; the entire point of putting him in daycare was that we’d be gone all day long.  I was paying for twelve hours, and I wanted at least ten.  We went in anyway, and I was fully prepared to duke it out, but fortunately, while one of the staff didn’t seem particularly pleased, he admitted that since I’d made the reservation, they had to honor it.  Another staff member came to collect him, and I left, only to spend the entire day worrying about my baby.  What if a bigger dog picked on him?  What if he was injured?  What if there was a fire?  Or an earthquake?  Despite reassurances from the family, I just couldn’t stop wondering if he was having a good time.

We ate, and we watched the Pointer get crowned Best in Show before football came on.  My cousin’s six-year-old daughter Madison discovered the wonders of Mancala, her baby brother was remarkably quiet and much sought after by everyone but me.  My mother had made a pumpkin chocolate chip cake with chocolate ganache frosting in celebration of the birth of my father and myself.  All in all, a rather mild Thanksgiving, albeit one that seemed to go on for a very long time.

We stopped to pick Pi up from daycare, and I found him mixing comfortably, in mint condition, reeking of other dogs.  He seemed to have plenty of energy though, probably because he’d napped at some point and regained it all.  It’s a nice enough facility, but not worth the price tag.  I didn’t really find the staff all that friendly – at least not to the humans.  I’ve found a place in Culver City called Club Fido that does five hour daycare for only 15 dollars, 30 for all day.  And while they do grooming, there seems to be an absence of massage parlors and aromatherapy.  I think I’ll check it out; Pi’s going to need some stimulation while I’m post-surgical and can’t walk him – especially if it’s also raining. 

November 28th, 2008 – Had a second Thanksgiving at my friend J’s house.  The men spent half the evening trying to figure out why J2’s interior lights were still on in his car.  It was a very nice, uneventful evening, though with J’s two grandmothers present, it really made me miss my own.

November 29th, 2008 – Spent the day cleaning in preparation for my birthday party in the evening.  Pilot and Roxie were sent to the groomers in the hope that keeping them out of the way would decrease the amount of hair in the house.  They both came home soft and clean, so that was nice.  

Though three of my friends weren’t able to make it, I had a very nice time.  My mom made chili for us, as well as these little appetizers of bacon wrapped around pickled melon rind – so good.  She and Dad went out to the movies, giving us our space.  We talked, and played Apples to Apples, this great party game where everyone gets seven red noun cards – they might be people, events, concepts, places, what have you – and the judge each round picks out a green adjective card.  Everyone else picks one of their cards that they think best applies to the adjective, hands it over to the judge who shuffles them up then reveals each one.  The judge then gets to decide which one he or she likes best, and whoever’s card it was gets to keep the green adjective card.  The goal is to collect a certain number of green cards.  The comparisons get wacky, and you can either talk up or talk down other player’s choices.  It also pays to play to the judge’s tastes.

We finished the evening with an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins, white cake and world class chocolate ice cream with purple frosting.  It was a very nice evening.

November 30th, 2008 – And on the seventh day, she rested.  I spent the rest of the weekend devouring Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, finally.  Friend R loaned me his books months ago, and while I’d read volumes 1 through 4 over the course of a year, I polished off 5, 6, 7, and 8 in three days.  I’m now in the middle of The Kindly Ones, which is much thicker than the others.  Things are certainly getting interesting.  I have to say, for a mythology buff like myself, this series is pretty awesome.  I avoided getting into graphic novels, not for any disdain of the medium or anything, but just because I couldn’t afford to get hooked.  Still, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far, the complexity is astonishing.  I have to wonder how many times I’d have to read all of them to really get the whole story.  I’ll post a more in depth review once I’ve finished the series.

Neil has a wonderful blog post about freedom of speech, and defending the indefensible.


Quote of the Day:


-I didn’t know you could stop being a God.
-You can stop being anything.”

Delirium and Dream conversating, in Brief Lives.


Link of the Day: Special Treatment by Amanda Fortini – a fascinating look at celebrity rehab centers, particularly one in West Hollywood.  Thank goodness for The New Yorker online.

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