Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Man Shower

My coworkers threw me a man-shower yesterday. They bought me a shitload of gifts and they even had champagne. Too cool. I'm in class right now and I just bombed the shit out of my shoulder test. I'm trying to think of something to do for the next hour while Chris Boredom quacks at me. Maybe I'll write some more songs. Do my finances, I guess.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Panic Attacks part 4

Lost and drifting. Stayed home from work today to nurse possibly the worst headache I've ever had. Couldn't walk more than a dozen steps all morning. I'm on the L. I could not possibly hate the words "Attendance requirement" more. I still feel loopy. All the education I've received up until today has served only to make me realize that there are some things that only I understand. Life, at its most frightening.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


We are at W-Day Minus 32. 32 days left. Beth read the vows to me and I started crying last night. So powerful. In a very chest crushing way. Like hearing a powerful proclamation. It was an... overpowering experience.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Emotional Trough

I let a lot of that anger go. I'm in sort of an emotional trough right now where I don't trust the way I feel about anything. The only thing I trust is... Electric guitar music, Chuck Palahniuk books, video games, whatever obsession I feel like. Oh well. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more money on guitar stuff and less on video games.

I have a test this afternoon about things I haven't reviewed in a month. Goody. I'm going to go have lunch at Flat Top anyway. Fuck it. It's just like it always has been. I have enough time and energy for two things, but I'm trying to do about four right now.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Consecutive Numbers from the Auschwitz Camp

Whoa, whoa, whoa. How the hell did it get to be July 7 already? Damn that was fast! I like the month of July. I hope it lingers a little. At least enough to enjoy my summer clothes a little more. Though admittedly I have good winter clothes as well. One more cold season at CSMT and that'll be all. I'm getting worried about getting my practice up and running. I need to start looking in papers for job openings or maybe visiting Chiropractor's offices. Maybe I could work at the new PT office. I want a more relaxed environment.

Maybe I'll get the wedding cd cover approved by Beth tonight and finish that tomorrow. Finish my bills for the month. What to do if I don't spend my entire loan check. Fuck that, I probably will. If not, I guess I'll use it as a jumpstart to pay off some credit card bills.

I met a man today who had survived Aushwitz, and in our office, he met a man with another tattoo on his arm. It was the next consecutive number. They had known each other in the camp. Might be good material for a book.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Dogbert and Jimi Hendrix

And the rocket's red glare...
(waving arms like Dogbert) Bah!
Vacation is over.


I got a retard.

Typically when I'm riding the L and I put my bag in my lap instead of on the seat next to me, I get a homeless person. Somehow today I lucked out and got a retard. He coughed spasmodically and smelled like he lived in a woodpile.

Must be my lucky day.


The newest instructor's name is ____. He looks like a mustached Robert Crumb and screams high school art teacher. I hated him instantly, and nothing he has done or said in the past 22 minutes has improved my opinion of him. Once again, it's that kind of day. I brought Lullaby with me, and I'm very close to reading it.


Nothing could quite cap off this shitball day like listening to the haunting "Machinegun" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Halfway through it stops being a blues song and Jimi's guitar becomes an air raid siren, a fighter plane's engine, a whistling, falling 500 lb. bomb. Literally becomes those sounds in a fog of war way. Above these ethereal sounds is the sharp snap of Mitch Mitchell's airtight snare rattling off bursts of drumline melody that sound so much like heavy machinegun fire that you can imagine veterans in the audience flinching. Noel Redding's bass slides lowly over a funeral-dirge harmony line. It is evident that Hendrix did not enjoy playing it. At the end of the live recording I have, Hendrix admits that it's one "we don't want to hear anymore."

The genius of his work on this piece is not so much that he discovered that his guitar could make these sounds, but that he could reproduce them so faithfully onstage, standing directly in front of a deafening 20 foot wall of Marshall tube amps. I played through a vintage 4-speaker Fender Bassman once onstage at full volume and the instant I hit the distortion pedal, it was the last thing I heard clearly for about an hour. There is no way in hell Jimi could have heard if the notes were right or wrong even in the blues segment of this recording, much less if his wartime sound effects actually sounded like guns, bombs, and other war machines. Those sounds existed somewhere in his head, and he evoked them essentially blindly onstage.

The man was not of this earth.

Then, of course, on the next track, Jimi introduces Noel Redding to the audience as "Bob Dylan's Grandmother" without further explanation. He then dedicates the song, deadpan seriously, to "Everyone out there with hearts. Any kind of hearts. And ears..."

Jimi Hendrix, LSD's gift to the world.

Friday, July 02, 2004

I love Russians

Me: Did the epidural injection help your back pain?

Old Russian Woman: Yes... Not really.... Mmm Hmmm (unintelligible murmur)... No...


Me (outside) Did the epidural injection help your back pain?

Old Russian Woman: (Smiles) Is the doctor here yet?

Some sort of exchange like this can be virtually counted on during Friday mornings. I feel like I'm living in a Cheech & Chong skit. Open up, it's Dave. Dave's not here, man.

The older Polish women can be exasperating. The ones that have been living here for 40 years and still can only speak five words of English. Other than "why is it so cold in here?" their favorite question is "are you Jewish?" Admittedly this is a fair question, given my dark hair and eyes. But suddenly, I find myself apologizing for not being Jewish, as if it's a prerequisite for dispensing medical care. Pre-medical Biology class 301: How to be Jewish (required).

I suppose there's some merit to this question. After all, who wants a disaffected, ex-Catholic atheist unwrapping their gangrenous old feet? Admittedly, Jewish sounds much more.... Hopeful?

I love the first generation Russians. You can spot them immediately because they always look pissed off about something. They can be startlingly loud and very pushy and rude if you're not prepared for them, but they love doctors and American medical personnel second only to God. So happy are they that you can actually help them, the older ones will shake your hand profusely or (the bonneted old women) shower you with kisses.

They do as you say without complaint or hesitation. As if my ratty $40 lab coat bestows some sort of magical power. I have to be very careful what I say to them, for just this reason. If I were to tell them their arthritis might improve by doing jumping jacks, they would say "Okay Doktor" and promptly do it. Which is not to say they are naive; far from it. They have been living in constant pain for decades sometimes, and something that seems mundane to Americans (like knee replacement) seems very much like miraculous work to them. It's a bit unnerving to have that much influence over people.

If you speak to them in Russian, even a simple phrase like "ad bolite shtote prinimage?" (what do you take for pain?) you are instantly a member of their family. Their grim determined faces melt into huge unselfconscious smiles. They look like they might reach into their coats and pull out an ancient-looking bottle of vodka made out of green glass bearing a label that had no writing, just a great big picture of Stalin's face. The Boss. Here it means Springsteen, there it means Stalin.

The town of Smirnov, where the famous Smirnoff vodka comes from, is in the dead zone in Ukraine around Chernobyl. It is a ghost town of low, abandoned buildings in the middle of a man-made nuclear desert.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I'm the guy that cleans up the blood

Exhaustingly, June is over. I'm having a very shitty day that started poorly and just worsened. I'm drowning in an inch deep puddle of misguided notions and romantic lies. Ultimately, I think that hating myself for this is inevitable.

Another reason I hate my job. HIV patient chart stickers. Can't be displayed in an easy to find place. I'm the guy that cleans up the blood.