Saturday, July 28, 2007

Out of Orbit

i’ve spent the past week and a half home from work, recovering from this lovely respiratory infection. the illness itself wouldn’t have taken me so far out of orbit but the antibiotics and other assorted meds i had to ingest for the past ten days leveled me in unanticipated ways. i seriously had so little energy that doing something as simple as laundry felt like a herculean task.

i slept most of the days away, left my house only when necessary and bitched nonstop to anyone who made the mistake of calling me to say hi. i might be a happy drunk, but a sad sick i'm afraid. i hated the forced time off, particularly because i couldn't do a damn thing with it. i laugh when i think of the ambitious list i wrote of all the things i intended to do when i first began my respite. instead, i did the following — and you can too should you ever find yourself in the position of looking for Things to Do While Recovering from Bronchitis:
  • promise yourself that you’ll never ever smoke another cigarette for the rest of your life and ask your friends to put out their own cigarettes on your face if you try to bum. decide to buy an air purifier and visit the steam room at the gym more often to help detoxify your lungs.

  • bemoan the fact that your medication causes sun sensitivity and that you need to stay indoors and out of the sun’s harmful rays which can now boil you like a lobster. then remember it’s july in los angeles, 90 degrees, and that you hate heat and wouldn’t want to be out there anyway. feel better momentarily.

  • enjoy the time with your fantastic dogs who seem happy to have you home so much. apologize to said dogs profusely about being a dead-beat mom all week and promise them numerous trips to the dog park upon your recovery. bond with your new puppy who is finally starting to become affectionate with you. notice that new puppy has a serious gas problem.

  • begin work on a freelance project that requires you to proofread an 850-page high school health textbook. find yourself actually learning something. giggle at the chapter on sexual abstinence.

  • visit your cutie-patootie Aryan doctor for another checkup where you blather on about your cough. say inappropriate and nonsensical things such as you really like the cough syrup with codeine he prescribed because it gives you “kaleidoscopic” dreams. blush like a school girl when he uses his stethoscope to listen to your lungs, which, by the way, sound clear so no you don’t have pneumonia like you suspect and you didn’t have it last time either, remember? leave quietly and then kick yourself in the head for being an insufferable idiot.

  • find one long, dense book to occupy your week. settle on the 625-page autobiography of Katharine Graham. find yourself once again fascinated by the world of journalism. vow to rent “All the President’s Men” as soon as you can.

  • become alarmed when your puppy brings in a severed pigeon leg one morning from the yard. carefully dispose of leg and then reluctantly enter your yard to find pigeon feathers scattered throughout, but no carcass. inspect puppy’s mouth, face and body to see if she had an altercation with a pigeon and already ate the evidence. conclude that it was likely a possum who committed the dismemberment the prior night and puppy recovered only sloppy seconds.

  • eat like a pig because you’re bored and need comfort. exercise not at all. have your parents come by to drop off food after you complain that your fridge is empty. hear your dad look at you and say, “hmm, i thought being sick would make you drop a few pounds.”

  • wish Zsa Zsa Gabor would call you.
nowadays i’m feeling better, though the cough and congestion still linger. but my energy has begun its rebound, and resuming work and rejoining civilization have never sounded better. i’ve spent enough time sitting around cruising myspace and twiddling my medicated thumbs. time to be productive again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Aggressive Upper Respiratory Infection

a few weeks ago, doc said it was “acute bronchitis aided by bacteria.” next stop on the infirmary train would be pneumonia if i left it untreated, but to me it already feels like pneumonia, or at least its seedling. i’ve been coughing for six weeks. no joke. i also haven’t had a solid night’s rest in six weeks, being that i’m awakened countless times throughout the night to get a good cough out, wet my irritated throat with water and take a few deep breaths to return the oxygen to my brain.

until i saw the doctor earlier in the week, i had convinced myself that i had TB and would need to be quarantined. i feared that i might be arrested if i didn’t do the quarantine like that guy who was in the news a month back for flying with TB. i wondered if i could have crossed paths with him and been exposed. maybe he was that drunken guy from the Knitting Factory in early June who stood too close to me at the bar. i swear that guy breathed on my drink. i even began to prepare for the quarantine, trying to figure out who could watch my dogs and wondering would they have WiFi at the TB clinic?

i’ve begun my second round of antibiotics, with this one being some super strong antibiotic made for horses or something. when i went to fill the prescription, the pharmacist was like, “wow, do you have pneumonia?” i guess the sub par Amoxicillin of the first round just won’t treat such an aggressive infection, one that’s causing my lungs to crawl up my throat in an effort to escape my diseased body. plus there’s the Mucusin that is forcing the — yep, you guessed it — mucus to crawl up along with my lungs, maybe to better lubricate their journey. and there’s also the cough medicine with codeine that is giving me some crazy dreams, including a very surreal semi-nightmare the other night that had me on a roadtrip with all my ex-boyfriends.

i feel dumb, like it’s my fault. even strangers on the street think it’s my fault. a few weeks back as i was walking to Whole Foods, coughing my brains out, i passed an old russian guy on the street who heard my bark, looked right at me, finger pointed and yelled “don’t smoke!!!” in russian. startled, i kept walking, took a moment to process the event before turning around and yelling back, also in russian, “i don’t smoke!!” what a fucker. i haven’t had a cigarette in months. before those months maybe, but that has nothing to do with now. neither does having been a heavy smoker for six years back in the day. i mean, come on.

am i complaining enough? please humor me some more, because that’s what good blog readers do and you guys are the best blog readers in the world. i also have a story about the trip to the doctor’s office, which sadly didn’t include a lollipop or bright sticker at its conclusion like it did when i was a kid.

instead i had to visit the USC Health Sciences campus just north of downtown for a coveted same-day appointment, which means i get to see a different doctor every time as well as the ever-friendly med students who do the intake. the one this time looked younger than me and seemed scared as hell to talk to or touch me. she began by asking why i came in, and i kindly supplied her with a demonstration of the barking cough that has been charming those around me for weeks. i went on for about five minutes rattling off a list of my symptoms only to have her nod vigorously without writing a single thing down.

she then stopped and glanced down at her blank sheet, looking defeated. “i’m a third-year medical student and this is my first day ever working with patients,” she smiled meekly. “and the doctor wanted me to finish your intake in 15 minutes so he could leave by five.”

i had to appreciate her honesty. she seemed so genuine that i tried not to let her inexperience irritate me. but after another five minutes of her looking lost and apologetic, i had no other choice but to grab the clipboard and write down a list of my symptoms, saying, “don’t worry about a thing, sweetie. i’d love to leave by five, too. let’s get this party started.”

she seemed relieved, thanked me for being “cool” and eventually resumed control of her clipboard, but she still managed to prolong the intake to 25 minutes by asking every last question on the sheet, including “are you having homicidal thoughts and is anyone abusing you?”

i wanted to say, “sweetie, is that the intake sheet for teenagers? because i’m here for a cough, so no, my daddy’s not touching me weird. is the doctor free yet?” but instead i smiled politely and showed what i believe to be an alarming amount of self-restraint by breathing out a simple “no and no.”

finally the doctor came in and damn was he ever cute — and in a very not-my-type sort of way, meaning he looked a bit Aryan when i generally prefer them darker. still, i began to entertain the idea that i would need a house call later when i could try on his white coat and test out his bedside manner, heh heh. but i quickly dropped any illusion that our interaction was flirtatious when he began talking about the diarrhea all my new medications could cause.

and so far the only thing the medication has caused is insomnia. note the time stamp. i can’t sleep at all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Puppy Love

i know what you’re thinking: but i swear i’m not pushing their heads together to create these syrupy look-at-the-darling-puppies-cuddling photo opps. swear!

they play, too: yes, when they are not nuzzling or staring into each other’s eyes lovingly, they are playing tug of war. like nonstop.

no toy? no problem! Juice’s neck will do. it’s far more elastic than any silly toy. warmer and chewier, too.

i almost want to try it: it does look pretty chewy, like a hairy piece of taffy. downside is that all the neck pulling is turning Juice into a sharpei.

dreaming of the pre-puppy days: a few people have remarked that Juice seems “calmer” with Pinko around. i think she’s just tired. hell, i’m tired. but we’re making it work, together. our relationship has certainly evolved with the addition of Pinko, like we’re mom and dad now trying to raise this kid right.

juice’s dog: i’m convinced that Pinko is convinced that the sun rises and sets in Juice. she cannot bear to be two inches away from Juice before panic sets in. she follows her room to room, sleeps right on top of her, and just seems better natured when Juice is in close range. and me? i just provide the food — i’m the caterer to their love affair.

see? i wasn’t lying.

juice don’t mind: she loves to spread the love. she will face-lick homeless people. i can learn a thing or two from her, because on many days when i arrive home after a full day at work to find the speaker wire chewed through, the broom eaten, the tissue box shredded, i’m ready to hang the puppy upside down by the tail and skin her alive.

san jugo: contrast this with the jesus-like Juice. she tolerates all the terrorizing — the neck pulling, the shadowing, the theft of toys — and never lays down the iron paw in the way her 75-pound body can on this 30-pound squirt. and honestly, i never expected anything else from her. because with a dog as full of love as Juice, Pinko is just another lucky recipient.

could it be? is it my imagination or does Pinko’s face look sweeter than it did in the first round of pictures? i think she’s softening, finally! all my hard work of not killing her day to day when she misbehaves is really working! or maybe i just said her name in a super high pitch when i snapped this.

i jest, i jest: Pinko ain’t so bad. in fact, i can barely remember the life i had before she entered the household. i know it wasn’t as fun. and certainly not as active. Pinko’s done much to pull my fat ass outdoors, as we hit up the dog park each day for ball-chasing and runyon canyon each week for hikes.

a welcome alarm: my favorite Pinko is morning Pinko. that’s when she’s the ultimate cute cake, sitting by my bedside with tail thumping the floor uncontrollably, ears back and eyes full of excitement. it’s that face that makes it hard to leave for work each day. and she’s full of these drawn-out yawns and stretches that result in the greatest little howl, like “roo-roooo-wooooo.”

“Ju — i mean, Pinko!” i’m doing that mom thing now where i get their names mixed up. you know, that thing i’d never thought i’d do. the one that drove me crazy when my mom did it with me and my sister.

boobs: i don’t recall the exact moment when “boobs” became their current collective nickname, but i’ve gotten into the habit of calling them that. i suppose it’s fitting — there are two of them now; both warm, cuddly and soft; they look alike; and they’re mine.

Friday, July 06, 2007


now that i’ve finally crossed the threshold to become a true thirtysomething instead of just a thirty, i got exactly the push i needed to jump off the fence and arrive at the soft landing and happy acceptance awaiting me below. not that i could have hopped the fence to run back into my twenties. and not that i would have wanted to.

unlike last year when i found myself in a panic over the approach of this new decade — the textbook type of panic i’ve seen countless friends go through as well — this year there was no turmoil, no soppy lamentations, crazy chronicles or paralyzing thoughts of “oh shit, what the fuck am i doing with my life?”

this year, i felt happy on my birthday. this year, i knew conclusively that the only thing i could do with my life was to live it. this year, i woke up on the tuesday that was my birthday and went to work as usual, happy to have my career in copy editing. i received cards from a few thoughtful coworkers, with one even making me lemon bars. the evening i passed with my parents, eating a nice meal at fancy Maggiano’s. and of course nighttime i spent with my puppies, their wagging tails and smiling eyes confirming the suspicion i carried with me throughout the day — that i had much to be thankful for on this birthday.

that night, i leashed up the pups for a long walk in the twilight. the neighborhood looked lovelier than usual, peppered as it was with bougainvillea in full bloom, still bright by the moonlight. the weather was perfectly temperate, air crisp. big inhales and exhales.

as we walked, the reflections of the past ten began to roll in — the traumas and dramas, whether real or imagined; the joys, hopes, sorrows, fears and sensations; the boyfriends and broken hearts; the back surgery and resultant scar; the delirium of new love and anguish when he cheated; the people i thought i’d always know but haven’t spoken to in ages; the job jumping; the moving once a year; the summer traveling through europe; the inadequacies and self-doubts; the opportunities for redemption; angela’s suicide; the wild time in san francisco; the drugs and all-night parties; the youthful delusions, amateur epiphanies and yearly paradigm shifts.

they rolled in like a flood. the bad, the good, the ugly. those shiny moments that defined my twenties, that once seemed so vivid and relentlessly self-important, the way they latched onto me like leeches. but now, finally, after years of agonizing over how i could have done everything i’ve ever done better than the way i did it, none of it seemed to matter anymore.

it was really past — distant, remote, stripped of its gravity and put into perspective. finally, i had let it go. finally, i had moved the fuck on. and damn, it felt good. i felt relieved, lighter, brighter, almost tingly as i strolled the boulevard with my pups wondering what the hell was put in my drink during dinner to make me so damn clear-headed. but here it was, very clear indeed, that the past was just that: irrelevant and not worth agonizing over.

as someone who is an agonizer, ruminator extraordinaire, capable of psychoanalyzing everything within an inch of its existence, this was huge. and while i don’t expect to ever rewire myself out of that (exhausting) habit, i needed to throw out the old to make some room for the lifetime of stress that’s surely ahead of me. and just like that, with a long walk and a bit of mental abracadabra, the old stuff had gone.

it was the oddest, most effortless catharsis known to humankind. a velvet revolution, with ten years worth of baggage tossed out of my psyche like a tacky prom dress that’s crowding the closet. it made me feel so super free and invincible that making senseless analogies about prom dresses is suddenly a-ok. i’m feeling that fucking good.

and now, a week into being 31 — thirty-fun! — i’m still feeling pretty fucking good.