Thursday, April 22, 2004

Gritting my teeth

Not much to report today. Walter got sent to Fallujah. I watched Kill Bill vol 1 again. Wrote some emails, probably none of which I will get replies to. Had salad for dinner and called my sister. Changed my PDA desktop to a picture of Beth. Played Hitman 2. Successfully avoided spending $50 on the sequel that came out yesterday. Gritted my teeth. Bore it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Italian Framing

I stopped in Northbrook today at the Cancer Wellness Center and signed up for 30 hours of unpaid massages to complete a portion of my school requirement. As my schedule is already packed nearly to the breaking point, I was forced to surrender my Thursday evenings from June and July in order to accomplish this task. So for two months I can look forward to working and going somewhere after for another extra 3 hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday. I'm in denial, I guess. I called the school to find out about getting loan money to cover the last few months of school so I could quit my job. They said I'd have to talk to Sallie Mae about that, and that it wasn't a particularly good idea. I am quite discouraged by all of this. On top of it all, I'm getting sick, I think. I have a headache and runny nose and I feel tired all the time. I rented Kill Bill vol 1 last night, and that made me feel marginally better about life. I had today off, which I spent largely running to Northbrook and then to work to pick up the Gurnee bag full of patient charts. So I get to wake up at 7 AM instead of my normal 8 in order to be able to drive an extra 40 minutes to Gurnee, IL to work there.

I picked up the framed print that Beth's father gave us. The framers took $190 and THREE MONTHS to get it to me. The wood is from Italy. That matters, I guess. It does look great. I guess I'm just in a shitty mood right now.

Italian Framing

I stopped in Northbrook today at the Cancer Wellness Center and signed up for 30 hours of unpaid massages to complete a portion of my school requirement. As my schedule is already packed nearly to the breaking point, I was forced to surrender my Thursday evenings from June and July in order to accomplish this task. So for two months I can look forward to working and going somewhere after for another extra 3 hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday. I'm in denial, I guess. I called the school to find out about getting loan money to cover the last few months of school so I could quit my job. They said I'd have to talk to Sallie Mae about that, and that it wasn't a particularly good idea. I am quite discouraged by all of this. On top of it all, I'm getting sick, I think. I have a headache and runny nose and I feel tired all the time. I rented Kill Bill vol 1 last night, and that made me feel marginally better about life. I had today off, which I spent largely running to Northbrook and then to work to pick up the Gurnee bag full of patient charts. So I get to wake up at 7 AM instead of my normal 8 in order to be able to drive an extra 40 minutes to Gurnee, IL to work there.

I picked up the framed print that Beth's father gave us. The framers took $190 and THREE MONTHS to get it to me. The wood is from Italy. That matters, I guess. It does look great. I guess I'm just in a shitty mood right now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Thermal Therapy

I haven't updated my page in days. Maybe I won't anymore. I haven't decided. I'm in Thermal Therapies class. How excruciatingly tedious. The instructor is encouraging audience participation. I'd love to just get up and walk out. Not say anything, just walk out. I wish I could just read a book. I'd probably learn more. She's talking about Turkish bath houses for men. Someone please sneak up behind me with a backhoe and drop the bucket on my head.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

It's Wednesday again, and I want to die. I was awake until 4:00 AM this morning attempting to repair Beth's computer (my sturdy old Celeron 500 from college). She somehow had contracted a worm or Trojan Horse virus of some sort. Being the medieval computer witchdoctor I am, I opted for the only damn thing I knew how to do: reinstalling the operating system. Three and a half hours later I had it running clean again and I had finished Nancy Friday's "Forbidden Flowers" while waiting for the little blue progress bars to creep agonizingly from left to right. Three hours after THAT, the alarm went off. You can imagine, I'm sure, my state of mind today. I had a red bull about an hour ago and fortunately it seems to still be working. I just went to type a series slip for a person's X-rays, and in the name box I somehow typed "04-1276." Her file number. That is how fucked up my brain gets some days. I need to quit this job. Nothing is worth working for like this. There's me and there's my job, and I get the feeling one of us will not survive this week.

(later)

It's 2:53, and I survived. Eventually my mood evened out, and I feel almost normal again. I'm on the edge of snapping back into unhappiness, but I'm not there yet.

A 69 year old Ukrainian woman just flirted with me. I swear to God. She talked at length to me about Ukrainian language despite the fact that she admitted to Not speakin much English. She primped and pulled at her light blouse while she indicated how her shoulder was feeling. She touched my knee in conspiratorial emphasis. I didn't know whether to be flattered or grossed out. My life is fucking surreal.

(later)

I've lost quite a lot of weight since this time last summer. Almost thirty pounds. I can wear a fairly loose T-shirt without looking too much like Shamu. I can't wait for it to be summer. I'm doing fairly well for three hours of sleep in two days. Two Red Bulls and two iced teas (the second was a decaffinated herbal iced tea) were necessary, but I'm still standing. I fixed Beth's ethernet card. Her comp is quite a lot faster now. She bought us two copies of Norton Virus protection. Tomorrow night, probably, I'll get to those. Crowded L car, more standing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Surreal Work Daydreaming

I lost my train of thought from that last entry. I decided there was no need to ramble. I'm in a mood today, one I can't adequately describe. One where I catch myself daydreaming right in the middle of doing something.

For example, this becomes problematic when I'm taking a medical history for an excessively fat woman and I fantasize about adding the word "behemoth" to the end of every sentence. Not that I would ever do such a thing, but I tend to lose track of her whining about sore ankles when I'm doing my best not to suddenly start laughing aloud.

Two things that trouble me:

1) The fact that I often find my own jokes riotously funny. This is a tacky, uncool, and completely unbecoming trait, I know. Just the same, many of the jokes I laugh hardest at are the ones I tell myself when my mind is misbehaving.

2) It's probably a good thing that a daydreamer like me never got into medical school. It would have been the worst environment imaginable for me. I would inevitably land myself in trouble sooner or later.

I don't remember having such vivid or recurring fantasies when I was younger. I suppose that's because I did some things in my early twenties that many guys only fantasize about.

Flooring realization: I'm halfway through my twenties.

Flooring realization #2, Red Bull has a profound effect on my journaling style. I need to get off that shit.

(later)

I think I'm going to quit my job. I'm slowly losing my mind to it. It wasn't even a particularly busy day and I really drifted in and out a lot today. My mind, tired and fatigued by too much work and not enough down time has started to check out and wander, sometimes uncontrollably, as sort of an escape mechanism. Since I have chosen not to rest it enough, it just takes a break whenever it feels like it. In class, at work, in the middle of conversations... whether or not I want it to. It sounds silly, but I assure you it's not very amusing when it happens. It feels like I'm suddenly very drunk right in the middle of the day when in reality I haven't had any alcohol in weeks. I have difficulty following conversations, I either tune people out or become short tempered and impatient. I find it impossible to concentrate on whatever task I'm doing at the time. I drop charts and pens from shaky fingers and stare off into space for minutes at a time. I require greater and greater quantities of caffeine just to avoid falling asleep at work (which I do anyway sometimes) I'm late for work because I sometimes sleep through two separate alarms, even when I get usually 7 hours of sleep a night. Even a half hour of sitting quietly rejuvenates me significantly, but my schedule rarely allows me this.

I'm quite concerned about my mental health, and my life only exacerbates things. I can't quit school at this point so all that remains is work.

(later)

I'll have to remember to thank Charlotte for the ham and gouda sandwich with mayo. It was excellent. Beth made some mustard crackers with leftover Easter ham, too, that were almost better than the actual brunch. After the day I had...

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Beth Balm

Sometimes, Beth is the ultimate relaxing and soothing force in my life. She's like the 70-degree beach breeze at sunrise in San Juan. Like a stress relieving quicksand, she pulls away all of my anxieties and puts them to rest.

She drove me to class this morning (Saturday 8 AM) so I didn't have to take the L. She stopped at Starbucks for coffee and bought me an oatmeal cookie for breakfast. It's more or less the first thing all week that felt good to eat and didn't make me nauseas. She's coming to get me when class is over and we're going to get my hair cut and have dinner out and go shopping for wedding-night lingere. While I'm gone, she's going to go and buy the groceries.

Have you ever even heard of someone so wonderful? I love her and want to marry her more this very moment than I ever have. She is the greatest stroke of pure luck I have ever had.

(later)

Vertebral kineseology today. The instructor is a good one. He has interesting insights and things to say, but he has the almost cosmic misfortune of possessing a terminally monotone speaking voice. He reminds me of nothing so much as the "Fly High, Lesbian Seagull" guy from Beavis and Butthead. Oh well. I need to find a better game to play on this thing that will hold my attention better. I think there's a Starcraft...

I had a dream last night that I was entered in a Cannonball Run-type cross country road race. The other five or six contestants were driving various model Porsches. Everything from the old style 911's to the new Boxters and Carreras and even the wagon-like Cheyannes.

And I was on a mountain bike with the word Mustang painted on the side. Strangely, I managed to keep up somehow.

Analyze THAT.

(Later)

And now I'm waiting for my hairstylist to finish her appointment. I'm full of good steak and strong iced tea and I'm feeling fine. I'm going to buy another copy of Hitman: Silent Assassin for $9.99 so I can be sure I don't have a defective disc. I'll probably send the extra to Jeramy or my dad if mine does actually work. If not, I'll buy another CD Rom and just be done with the whole frustrating business. Beth is shopping. Evidently there is a giveaway at Victoria's Secret where you get a free Bob Dylan CD with a certain purchase.

Bob Dylan + lingerie = a better tomorrow.

The mall is packed tonight. Easter weekend. Every hindu, muslim, jew, and otherwise obvious non-christian has come to the mall in a great horde. The United Nations of Lincolnwood.

My friend Jeramy and I were discussing morality when he came to visit, and my position was that nature and instinct compel us, through no fault of our own, to think and act immorally. I couldn't think of an example at the time that illustrated my point, but I thought of one this afternoon.

Xenophobia: The fear of outsiders. The fear of the Other. The fear of people or things that are not like us.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Anxiety Attacks part 3

No panic attack this morning. Relieving. I'm trying to be more careful of what I eat and drink. I ordered a salad for lunch and I ate breakfast. I'm still quite hungry. Oh well... Just what the world wants to know about: my diet. That and my sleep patterns. Didn't sleep well last night, by the way. Is this journal about whining and bitching about my life? Is it about some weird duality of purpose/intent in my life? Can I ever reach a point where what I really, honestly want from life has anything to do with the life I actually live? When did I lose the sense that everything was OK? What the fuck does any of this mean in a bigger context? Where is my salad?

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Anxiety Attack part 2

Another anxiety attack. This one prompted by the fact that the internet went out this morning. What if Beth didn't pay the internet bill? What if something's wrong with our computers? What if SBC has been trying to contact us for days and I've hung up on them mistake them for telemarketers? What if, what IF?

(later)

God, reading that makes me feel like such a spaz. Why do I get so worked up about that sort of thing? Why the hell does that happen to me? I've resolved to stop feeding myself garbage food and to get off of the caffeine. It just needs to be done. So in an effort to get over it, I've started drinking a lot of water and only eating mild foods. I had a bowl of cheerios for breakfast which I had to eat very slowly because I felt nauseas the whole time. I had a bagel with cream cheese and half of Charlotte's turkey and gouda sandwich. And a bottle of strawberry chocolate milk. I feel a little bit better now. I called Beth looking for a little sympathy and got the itinerary for the upcoming Easter weekend brunch with her family and then babysitting Owen and Lucy. I am not required to go babysitting with her, but she is definitely going. So I'm left pitting my own sense of mental self-preservation against the compunction to spend several hours on the only free day of my week with two toddlers. Beth told me I should go to an Al-anon meeting. "It's just like group therapy, but it's free." I wanted kill myself.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Generation Crap

Need to play catch-up with my bills. How did it get to be the 7th so fast? It seems like it was March only five minutes ago. With any luck, time will continue to pass in this speedy a manner. I'm starting to feel the massage therapy pull. Starting to wish that school was over and wish this idiotic medical assisting job was over and... Well, for a lot of things. When am I ever not wishing for something I haven't got?

I found out yesterday that I really am a member of Generation X. Someone arbitrarily listed the children born between 1965 and 1979 as Gen X. When I think about Gen X, though, it always makes me think of the movie Reality Bites. I was about 12 when this was made, definitely not part of that generational cohort. Some loosely use the term Generation Y, which I find somewhat more apropriate. While my childhood was during the heyday of GI Joe and Transformers, I don't remember things like Captain Kangaroo or Menudo (other staples of Gen X). On the other hand, Gen Y remembers things like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Pokemon, which were very much after my time.

So I guess I'm more like the lost children who came of age in the early 80's. Definitely not as privileged as Baby Boomers, but solidly Before the time of Generation X. A subclass cohort who does little to influence the world. A class with utility (I've been employed by one business or another almost perpetually since I was 13 years old), but no agency. The Baby Boomers managed to have the minimum legal drinking age DROPPED for them and then RAISED for their children. My powerless little off-generation can't even defend themselves from outlandish and Inquisition-like charges of... that's right... making unauthorized copies of James Taylor and Marvin Gaye songs.

Let's take a little reality check here: James Taylor charges $60 per ticket to see him in concert in a huge stadium. Even if he gets only one dollar from each ticket what does that work out to? $15,000 for three hours work? Marvin Gaye is as dead as disco. And pardon me that I don't feel bad if his estate managers aren't getting my money from their dead golden goose.

But, I digress. The point is, my puny little generational cohort is about as powerful as a burrito fart.

They're working me like a rented mule today, and I still have three hours of class tonight.

(later)

It's much too early to start feeding my body garbage to keep it moving. Yet here I am with the taste of sour cream and onion Pringles in my mouth and a sicky-sweet Mountain Dew sloshing around in my stomach. It's like putting bad fuel in a car, but I really didn't have a choice. It was either that or starvation. I had no breakfast, no break for lunch, and no time to even stop at Starbucks. Now that we have moved to a classroom that is so ghetto it's almost smaller than my condo, Starbucks is three blocks out of my way. If this is what every Wednesday is going to be like from now on, this semester is going to make me homicidal.

I just watched a woman on the L, who has some of the worst acne I've ever seen, take a lit cigarette, put it out on her own hand, and stick the smoldering butt behind her ear so she could take it with her on the train. How depressing. Insert hair-care product joke here. Someday she'll use some hairspray or something and she'll try that little trick and blow her own idiot head off. It does make me feel somewhat proud of myself that I never got hooked on those fucking things.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Anxiety Attack

I had another anxiety attack this morning.

It was 6:04 am and I happened to roll over in bed and move my mouth to get rid of the morning breath taste. As I settled my head back onto the pillow, my jaws must have closed the wrong way.

Yeeeeeouch!

My upper right first molar sang out with a bright, nerve-bending pain. It had bothered me a few times previously, and like the molar on the left side only when eating dark chocolate or pastries. Now this sort of discomfort isn't unfamiliar to me, but for some reason at 6 AM, it was suddenly utterly overwhelming. My first thought was; "I don't have dental insurance!" and then "It's going to cost me a thousand bucks to get a goddamn cavity filled." and then "I haven't been to the optometrist in four years and I've been wearing the same pair of disposable contacts for almost five months." and then "I don't have vision insurance either, that's another $300." and then "I haven't gotten my disbursement yet and I need the money." and then "This wedding is going to cost a fortune and I'm going to fuck it up because I'm going to need emergency dental care that will drain my income." and then "I'll have to feel this awful pain in my mouth for 10 months, until open enrollment in 2005." and then "Why did I insist that we have a traditional expensive wedding anyway?" and then
"Holy shit... I'm getting MARRIED."

These minor worries, all very digestible on their own, suddenly choked me all at once. Like a dozen mathematical waveforms laid over each other, they amplified to a crushing tidal wave of terror. I realized later that it could be best described as similar to the feeling you have just moments before vomiting, where you are unable to focus on anything but the gruesome outcome of terrific stresses. The thing is, that typically only lasts about three seconds when you're getting ready to vomit. I shivered uncontrollably through a horrific 45 minutes of it this morning in bed. I tried admonishing myself for being such a goose, but it didn't help. The anxiety was a cornered weasel in my head.

I got up, took a shower, and sometime between soaping up my armpits and washing my hair the feeling just abruptly vanished. The tooth pain was gone, the shakes were gone, and most importantly, the endless department store music loop of anxiety was gone.

I don't know if this fits the classic definition of a clinical panic attack, but anything that comes and goes so quickly... Too much caffeine before bedtime, probably. Too much Red Bull and probably four Snapple Ice Teas a day... Bad Chinese food leftovers (Moo Shu that tasted like someone had put a chicken salad through a garbage disposal and let it fester overnight in dishwater and plumbing slime), too much time in front of the computer.... A million possible causes, I guess.

On a lighter note, the tune to "Toxic" no longer fills my head to the exclusion of all other music. Now it has stern competition in the form of the N.E.R.D. song, "She Wants to Move." (a song which, when I hear it even on the L or in the middle of a crowded grocery store makes me want to rip off all of my clothes and dance around a campfire like a heathen aborigine). Now I have both of these songs and the electric version of "My Immortal" on my MP3 player. I look forward to the long commute to school tomorrow so I can blast these songs into my headphones a hundred times each until I have internalized them the way I do with all music I like.

Maybe I'm mental.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Toxic

I have had the Britney Spears song "Toxic" in my head for three days now. As much as I have always adamantly insisted that she was little more than talentless arm candy, I am now at somewhat of a loss.

I must say that I think "Toxic" is a great song.

(Waiter... Yes, I believe for an entrée I'll eat crow today.)

Ok, ok, so why do I like that tune? Well, for starters it's completely unlike anything she's done so far. I am always fascinated when atists do this. In some cases it changes them for the better (Kid Rock) and in some cases it ruins them (Dave Matthews). Since literally everything she had done up to this point was crap, there was only one direction to go. This song is not only very catchy, it's well-produced, well presented in terms of Britney's vocal ability (not particularly strong, but not bad either), and has an original and unique sound. It doesn't mimic other songs of Britney's genre and it has more in common with Portishead and Garbage than Christina Aguilera or Jessica Simpson. No one is saying that Britney is creatively on the same level as Portishead or Garbage, but "Toxic" is a significant step for Britney in terms of making music that may not have a universal appeal, in favor of creating something individually and uniquely hers. Even if you aren't caught by the track's infectiously grooving tempo or Britney's airy, understated vocals, "Toxic" is a respectable stab at reinventing what was admittedly becoming a tiresome image.

I told a coworker who is not a Britney Spears fan that I was hooked by this tune, and the coworker responded "well, she could never perform it live..." Admittedly, this is true. The song is so well produced for the album recording that reproducing the sound of it onstage will be problematic. But since when does that matter? I refer you to the scores of critically acclaimed bands and artists whose records have won awards and who sound like utter shit onstage. No Doubt, Celine Dion, Madonna, Limp Bizkit, Meat Loaf, Joe Cocker, LED ZEPPLIN... Just off the top of my head. So, if that's the worst thing that can be said about Britney, then I'd say she has taken her music up a step.

The tune is original, the video for the song is interesting (those of you who were drooling over her bodysuit missed the visual and costume refences to Adrien Lyne's film The 5th Element.), and instead of making an album that sounds exactly like her last (Pink, Jessica Simpson), trying to be the next Cher or Whitney Houston (Christina Aguilera, Beyonce), or making someone else's music and calking it your own (Joss Stone, etc...) Britney did the last thing anyone would expect; she recorded a single worth listening to.

Better late than never, Britney. Turn it up.