Thursday, August 23, 2007


i’m really starting to come out of the fog now. another week of recuperation has passed and i’m breathing better and feeling brighter. i’ve resumed my old habits of leaping off tall buildings in a single bound and fighting underground street crime. from now on, y’all can call me the Pheonixxx. and damn, it feels goooooood to be back.

i had been sick for so long that i had grown accustomed to the congestion and coughing, forgetting what it’s like to feel healthy. and now i’m doing what i can to forget this summer of sick. to put it behind me, i bit the bullet and bought a bunch of new bedding accoutrements, including allergy protectors for my mattress and pillows, a new sheet set and a new duvet cover.

with sadness (and a bandana tied around my mouth and nose as a mask), i peeled off my old duvet cover from my comforter — a gorgeous, strawberry-colored, shimmery silk cover that i loved dearly. it fell to the ground where i proceeded to stomp on it for causing me so much allergenic agony. then i scooped it up and just threw it in the trash bin, right on top of the watermelon rinds.

half an hour later, my ankles were covered with the most obnoxiously itchy welts, making me wonder whether i should have called a haz-mat team to dispose of the cover instead, lest some homeless man dig it out of my trash for warmth and develop rashes and bronchitis.

but that didn’t ruin my spirits, which were elevated to ultimate heights the following morning after i enjoyed the most restful night of sleep i’ve had in months, lounging as i did on my new softer-than-soft beechwood sheets, with my comforter now wrapped in a still gorgeous copper-colored silk duvet cover.

and more bright sides have begun to emerge. for starters, i’ve conclusively quit smoking — before it was just a theory — which means no more social cigarettes. i haven’t had one since june, and the few recent times i’ve been out and about and been offered a cig i’ve declined, which never happened before. occurrences like these are indicative of a general paradigm shift toward positivity, which is my latest life aim. going forward, my goals are to make healthy choices, live for the long-term and surround myself with positive people, myself notwithstanding. lofty, eh?

the time off also got me exercising regularly and going to bed earlier, making me a happier, more energetic camper during the day. i’m well rested now and focused on the house-hunting adventure that lies ahead. all in all, all is well again.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The House-Hunting Chronicles: The Decision to Buy

they say that before buying a home, you should list all the attributes you’d like your future residence to have and then categorize the list into the “have to haves” and the “nice to haves.” they say you should be realistic in your assessment and have the majority of attributes in the “nice to have” column, leaving just a few big deal items, like good schools and safe neighborhood, in the “have to haves.”

so far, my list is comprised of 15 “have to haves” and 10 “nice to haves.” and for the life of me, i cannot bear to move any more items into the “nice to haves” column, no more than i could ever justify spending a boatload of money on something that only halfway suited my needs.

i know this is bad. i know i live in california. i know i am not rich. and i know i want to own the home in which i live. i know i’ll need to compromise and i’m sure i will, but given the fact that i’m madly in love with my current home — which possesses almost all the attributes on my list — i can’t imagine willfully moving to a place where i’ll have less than i have now.

now, i already have a house with character and high ceilings and a yard for my dogs and hardwood floors and a washer-dryer and dishwasher, and a terrific neighborhood with a Whole Foods and dog park within walking distance, and i have really great neighbors and a good-sized kitchen. and i absolutely love my landlord. and why the hell am i moving again?

ah, right — because i can never own it. it’s a guesthouse, and i will never be able to afford the main house it’s attached to, nor is that main house for sale. and i really really want to own my own place, because 1) a house is the most sound long-term investment, etc., etc., and 2) tax-wise it makes sense for me, especially with the amount of W-9 work i do each year. plus, i’m domestic by nature and need my own little castle and kingdom i can crown myself queen of.

to this end, i’ve spent the past few months doing a whole lot of research. i’ve read guide after guide on home-buying, with emphasis on what first-time homebuyers should know. and while i’ve learned a bundle, i’m still terrified of getting it all wrong, of being bamboozled by money-hungry real estate agents, mortgage brokers and contractors who’ll bully me into buying some dumpy ghetto studio with poor plumbing and crumbling ceilings that’s next door to a freeway on-ramp. to afford it, i’ll spend the next 30 years eating nothing but Top Ramen.

it could happen. i’m in los angeles, one of the priciest housing markets in the country. true, the market has been changing here as it has everywhere else, arming me with some mighty leveraging power, which i fully intend to use. buyers market, here i come.

but before i can even attend my first open house, i need to visit the mortgage broker to get prequalified for a loan. i have my paperwork gathered and my appointment set. can’t wait to find out how much i’m worth. keep tuned for the next installment of the househunting chronicles, which will have the answer.

Monday, August 13, 2007

And Now

i’ve made some serious headway this past week, with regard to that whole health and healing thing that’s been eluding me for many months now. my cough has gone from “accompanying every inhale” to “periodic.” i would normally be overjoyed at such a development if the chronic coughing hadn’t been replaced by snot overproduction. but now, instead of coughing so hard that my eyeballs risk popping out of my skull, it’s been my ears popping daily with the nonstop blowing of my nose.

this has left me in a constant state of irritable. i’ve never been a sickly person. in fact, i’ve always prided myself on having a strong russian constitution. i’ll drink milk past the expiration date if it smells ok, take my steaks medium rare and eat shellfish like it’s going out of style. feathers and cats have been my only serious allergies, and i manage to avoid both with great success. but now, i’m using a friggin inhaler to breathe right.

sadly, the disinfection was less than a raging success. febreeze’s anti-allergen spray may as well have been fragrant water because it didn’t do shit. i worry i’ll need to replace my mattress and bedding, all of which i bought new last year. the air purifier, however, does seem to be improving the air quality in my bedroom — somewhat. still, i need to sleep with a fan blowing in my face to keep the air circulating. otherwise, my sinuses impact with snot, causing me to spend the first hour of each morning being intimate with the tissue box.

also, i’m officially boycotting summer. first off, i’ve always despised the heat. it makes me tired, uncomfortable and, worst of all, sweaty. i don’t subscribe to sweating. aside from the few forms of exercise i enjoy, sex and dancing, there is no reason to sweat. it’s unbecoming. secondly, now that i’ve finished all the schooling i’ll ever need, summers are nothing to look forward to. they don’t provide the lengthy break or possibility for exotic travel like they once did. now, summertime means go to work as usual. no big whoop.

last summer i spent tied up in knots at the thought of turning 30, and the summer before was Angela’s suicide, the first big breakup with Mo and my own cancer scare. crapola. can’t wait to see what calamity is in store for me next summer. oh, that’s right. i won’t be observing summer anymore. i’ll be tucked under my covers, hiding from it, and probably still coughing.

ok, bright side. where you at, where you been hiding? one good piece of news is that i haven’t broken out in hives in many weeks. i’m sure that sleeping in full pajama armor has influenced this outcome. also good is that i’ve been exercising more and hanging out in my gym’s steam room, which make my lungs very happy. energy is also back, making me itchy to leave the house more. and i’ve been far more engaged in my work and generally more enamored with living a healthy life.

there. much better.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


recovery has finally made an appearance on the horizon. i can almost taste it. and thankfully it doesn’t taste like a lugee. it tastes more like an ionic breeze, slightly metallic but clean, like distilled water.

also good is that the source of my sickness has been identified. i think this is one of those few occasions where the phrase “i’m allergic to work” can be used both literally and figuratively. ok, it’s a weak pun but let me claim my small victories. i’m still sick. cough cough.

but seriously, i am allergic to my workplace. i guess the bright aura i’ve credited myself with having lately was really a radioactive glow. my mistake for not noticing sooner. what i did notice was that i got sick soon after i moved floors at work in mid-may. i moved to a floor undergoing construction, and although the affected areas are neatly taped off and away from worker bees like myself, those allergens jumped the fence and burrowed into my lungs, causing the bronchitis. cute aryan doctor pieced this together when i mentioned the move, the construction, and that other peeps on the floor have also developed coughs.

he also cautioned that i’ve been bringing the allergens home, as they’re the clingy types that have attached to my clothes and hair, meaning they’re in my house and car, meaning that i need to disinfect pretty much everything in my possession. but here’s the best part: guess where the allergens are most concentrated? wait for it, wait for it.

my bed! awesome, right? guess that will teach me to hang up my clothes every day. at least i finally have an explanation for why i always felt more miserable after crawling into bed to rest. and it’s also nice to have finally isolated the cause of the hives.

yeah, the hives. they’ve popped up several times already, always in the middle of the night. it’s a fun little panic to awaken to. at first, i attributed their appearance to a new marinade, but when they refused to relent long after the marinade had passed through my system, all blame landed on these allergens.

so now i disinfect. the comforter has been dry-cleaned, the mattress febreezed and vacuumed, the sheets boiled, and an air purifier — yes, the Ionic Breeze from Sharper Image — is doing the rest. workwise, my supervisors have kindly agreed to my request to be moved off the floor until construction ends. and no, i’m not suing.

but i am still disinfecting. i have the sanitizing wipes attached to my sleeve so if i see you and insist on wiping you down with bleach before giving you a hug hello, you know why.