Employment: I’m still working the two jobs. I actually picked up another permanent night at the store. I now work every Wednesday and Friday night and every Saturday from 1:00 until 10:00. I also work every other Sunday from noon until 6:00. I’m also working around 45 hours a week at my main gig. All of which translates into two days off a month. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a grind. Mornings like today are the worst. Not only did I wake up tired from working 10 days straight, I still had to face three more long days days until Sunday.
It’s not entirely bad. I’ve gotten several small unceremonious raises at work that have almost brought my paycheck back to it’s previous unslashed level, so long as I’m willing to grind out nine and ten hour days there. But the time between when I got my pay cut and I when I started the part-time job was seven months, and you can dig a pretty big hole in seven months, so no matter what they pay me it looks like I’ll be working at the store for a little bit longer.
Health: If I haven’t mentioned it before: MS is both baffling and a huge pain in the ass. When I accepted the job at the store both my feet hurt so badly that I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to walk around enough to do the work. Shortly afterward the pain in my feet went away only to be replaced by a cloudy blurriness in my right eye. Right this very second my right thigh is so numb that hitting it with my hand feels like I’m rapping on a coffee table. It’s been such a shitshow that in July I asked my neurologist to prescribe me a new round of medicine. He hooked me up with some Nortriptyline, an old-school antidepressant that has seen some success at alleviating the physical discomfort of MS (when I told my psychiatrist what I was taking he said, “Nobody takes that anymore!”), and Copaxone, which is thought to reduce further nerve damage although no one really knows how. [emphasis added - Ed.]
After a hilarious and avoidable series of miscues I now have chilling in my fridge a two-month supply of Copaxone. Row after beautiful row of glass syringes with very small little needles attached. Actually, the size is (I believe) slightly larger than an insulin needle, but a far, far cry from the Louisville Slugger-sized widow-makers I was using when I was taking Avonex.
After I quit taking Avonex I swore I would never do another round of injections, but taking Copaxone is pretty chill. You just pinch up some skin, pop the needle in and hit the plunger. No muss, no fuss, and most importantly, no day-long bout of hideous debilitating side-effects. The most troublesome part has been finding areas with enough skin to pinch. From what I gather they like you to rotate the injections around a series of sites, but some of the recommended sites are either implausible (the back of my hip) or impossible (the back of my arm). I’ve lost about ten pounds since the beginning of May, but even then there would never have been enough space for the needle in the back of my arm.
Juice: one of my extravagances after I got the part-time job was to buy a serious juicer. I read a few reviews, but one in particular made my choice very easy. I ordered the Omega 8003 on Amazon and when it arrived on a Friday night I was so excited I jumped out of bed Saturday morning and drove to the store to load up on kale, spinach, carrots and a bunch of other shit I read were supposed to be good for you. That first batch of juice was a shock to my system. I had used my earlier, shitty juicer exclusively to make fruit juice: apple, pineapple, etc. Drinking a glass of crushed-up leafy green vegetables was a bit of a departure. But it was awesome. For a while I was getting up willingly at 5:30 every morning in order to make fresh juice. I really began to enjoy the preparation of the whole thing. Rinsing the greens, chopping the carrots and celery and cucumber. It’s become my one weird little ritual.
Nowadays, I juice at night for the next day. I like to throw a beet in because the way the beet juice streaks on the big knife when I’m chopping it up gives me a homicidal thrill that you just don’t get from cutting up celery.
To each his own, amirite?
When my old company got taken over in April 2011 I was told that my salary would stay unchanged for the first six months. In October 2011, right on cue, I suffered a massive pay cut. Suddenly, I was only able to pay my bills with assistance from Lisa, who was only able to give me money because she was working a second job waiting tables three or four nights a week.
For various reasons Lisa quit that part-time job a couple months ago. It was a move that, all things considered, I whole-heartedly encouraged. The place was populated by psychos (Lisa excluded), and the hours were becoming a bit of a grind. It was awesome to have her home at night all the time, but we’d both be lying if we said we didn’t miss that extra money.
The day before we left for vacation in South Carolina I saw a sign for part-time help at a local liquor store. I told myself if the sign was still there when we got back I’d put in an application. They were looking for someone to work a few nights and weekends. I think you can see where this is going.
On the Friday of Cinco de Mayo weekend I worked all day at my regular job and then drove straight to the store to work my first shift. I got bossed around by a Spanish guy with very limited English skills, I emptied out the returnable machines (which are terribly gross and smelly), and kept the cooler stocked. I went back the next day from one o’clock until ten at night. Then I went back on Sunday from noon until six. When I finally got home on Sunday night I was fucking beat.
After a few weeks on the job I’ve got a decent handle on what needs to be done. It’s lowly, menial work but there’s something almost soothing about it. I go in, I mop the floor, I keep the cooler stocked and I go home. I don’t have anyone bitching at me. I’m not responsible for anyone else. Between the Seger on the classic rock radio and the BL ‘Nums in the cooler it’s kinda like living in @DadBoner’s timeline. One of the guys asked me the other day if I was ready to quit yet and I almost said, “This is the easiest money I’ve ever made in my life.”
Oh yeah, the money. I figure at my current schedule I’ll bring home around $600-700 a month. That’s not gonna make me rich, but it helps out when most of my real income goes to cover child support and mortgage payments for a condo that I don’t even live in. I should be able to pay off my car next month which will free up a not-insignificant $130 a month.
The best part of the new job has been watching Lisa settle into a more relaxed lifestyle. When she quit the waitress gig it took her a few weeks to adjust to having so much free time. She literally didn’t know what to do with herself. Now when I come home she’s stretched out on the sun porch with a book. It’s lovely.
Yesterday we were at Lisa’s parents’ house for a cook-out and Emily brought her Razor scooter to play with. We went for a little walk around the block and ended up uphill from the house. I asked Em if she wanted to ride her scooter on the sidewalk downhill and around the corner to the house and to my surprise she said yes. Two seconds after her take-off she was moving far too fast for me to ever catch her so all I could do was watch her and hope for the best. And in a split-second I realized that would be the pattern for the rest of her life. She’s slowly escaping my gravity and the farther away she gets the faster she goes. That’s some pretty heavy shit to deal with when all you wanna do is enjoy a sunny Sunday late-afternoon and eat a grilled sausage sandwich.
Hey, how are you doing? I kinda blog here from time to time, so feel free to check back in three or four months and if you’re lucky there may be some other trivial bullshit posted.
I was listening to Toucher and Rich on my drive to work the other day and they were playing clips of isolated vocal tracks from famous rock songs. I kinda dug hearing “Detroit Rock City” and you must listen to David Lee Roth’s vocal of “Running With The Devil.” When I got to work I searched around and found that there’s a small cottage industry devoted to posting videos of famous songs stripped of everything but the vocals. I don’t pretend to know the reason for this.
One song I noticed a video for was “Gimme Shelter,” and I resolved to listen to it as soon as I got home. Not only is it one of my favorite songs ever but I was dying to hear what Merry Clayton’s voice would sound like without a cloud of guitar and drums surrounding it. Safe to say, it’s almost unbearably awesome. I absolutely love it when her voice cracks during the “Rape, murder…” part and you can hear Mick holler “Whoo!” in appreciation.
Disclaimer: this post is about politics, a subject that I hate. I’m neither a political scientist nor an economist so don’t expect any data to back up my arguments. In fact, you can just skip this entire post if you want and I’m sure that we will still be friends.
I’ve wasted several evenings lately watching the Republican primary debates. I could have spent that time reading or listening to “A Love Supreme” or jacking it in the bathroom, but instead I made a conscious decision to sit on my couch and watch the various candidates make their case for being the nominee for POTUSA. The results have been so dismal that it shocks me that any sane person could reasonably entertain the notion of voting for any of them.
On a basic nuts-and-bolts level I understand that Republicans are supposed to be in favor of limited government and lower taxes and all that, but I’ve been continually shocked and appalled by the candidates’ sneering disregard for many American citizens. Herman Cain blamed the unemployed for being, uh, unemployed, Rick Santorum told a gay soldier that he would reinstate “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” and Rick Perry claimed to have never lost a night of sleep over executions in Texas while he was governor despite the fact that at least one one of those executed was exculpated after he was put to death. I know that the candidates are trying to appeal to the hardcore Republican primary voters, but the level of petty meanness is dismaying to watch.
The candidates have also taken a perverse pride in disregarding simple facts. When Cain is confronted with mathematical evidence that his 9-9-9 tax plan is massively regressive and blatantly unfair his only response is to say, “You’re wrong.” Perry has doubts about both global warming and evolution. Evolution! Let’s give him a pass by saying that climate science is a fairly recent scientific development. Fucking Darwin published “On The Origin Of Species” in 1859! In the intervening 152 years science has pretty much made an airtight case for evolution, and yet Perry dismisses it as “a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it.” I’m sorry, but you can’t be the leader of the free world if you don’t believe in evolution.
This ability to brush aside facts would be laughable if it didn’t also extend to their economic policies. Mitt Romney wants to free banks to accelerate the foreclosure process. Every candidate wants to gut Medicare and Social Security and slash discretionary spending to the bone all the while pledging to not raise taxes ever. Every candidate stated that they wouldn’t accept even a 10-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. Look, I’m no Paul Krugman, but you cannot be a serious candidate for the Oval Office if you can’t even pretend that, perhaps, our country would be a little bit better off if, say, GE paid some fucking taxes.
There are roughly 3798 more primary debates left and to be honest I don’t want to watch any more, but I’m sure I will because I’m a glutton for punishment and I love yelling at my TV. Plus, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until Michelle Bachmann says we should euthanize kids with Down syndrome, or Santorum pledges to reinstate Jim Crow laws. In a sick way I want Ron Paul to beat a hobo to death onstage because it would finally tear off the mask and reveal this cadre as the small-minded, venal, petty, bigoted, anti-Enlightenment, misanthropic shrews that they are.
I have been rather lucky recently in that I haven’t had a major MS flare-up in over a year, but I’m becoming more and more disillusioned about being diagnosed with MS anyway. Here’s why.
I get this terrible itching on my right elbow. It comes and goes for no apparent reason. It was so bad a couple weeks ago that I went to CVS on my lunch break and bought a tube of cortisone cream. I never imagined it would be MS-related. It turns out that ‘itching’ is an infrequent symptom of MS, and here’s the best part: topical creams are totally ineffective. I might as well have rubbed Nutella on my elbow for all the good it did me.
The list of symptoms for MS is almost endless. Fatigue. Numbness. Sexual dysfunction. Depression. Itching. Pain. No, seriously, fucking ‘pain’ is a symptom. How much more nebulous can your condition be when ‘pain’ is a symptom? Almost anything that can go wrong with the human body can be considered a symptom of MS. Sometimes it seems like MS is all symptoms with no known underlying cause. I’m no doctor but an MS diagnosis itself seems like medical shorthand for “we have no idea what the fuck is wrong with you.”
And because medical science has no idea what MS is, they don’t have any real way to treat it. It’s fucking immensely frustrating. I can take drugs in the hope of not getting a flare-up, but there’s nothing I can take to make it go away. No penicillin. No chemo. Nothing. Imagine that you went to the doctor and said, “Hey, I’m pissing blood. What’s up with that?” And your doctor said, “Well, I don’t have any idea why you’re pissing blood, but take this drug and maybe you won’t piss blood as often.” I think that you might be pretty mad.
Right now I’m lucky. My right toe is numb, my arms tingle and I’m wicked sensitive to air-condioning, but I can function pretty much like normal. Every once in a while I check in on MS websites and read some horror story of people who are so disabled that they have to quit their jobs and I count my blessings. It’s almost enough to get me to try some crackpot hookworm therapy.
Do you know what my new number one travel rule is? Do NOT show up late for your return flight. Let me explain how I’ve come by such wisdom.
After two great weeks in Italy Lisa and I set out at seven in the morning from a small town in the mountains for the airport in Rome. I figured that four hours would give us plenty of time, but I had not taken account the atrocious Rome traffic. We sat at a toll plaza for over a half-hour and once we paid the toll we sat some more as the ten or so lanes merged down to a paltry two. Once we got to the airport we ditched the rental car (a Fiat Panda and not an Alfa-Romeo 8C, but whatever, I’m not bitter), and hauled ass to the terminal.
The terminal our airline was at is laid out in the most illogical manner possible. The check-in counters are all at one end of terminal, but the gates are all at the opposite end. And once through the gate you take a tramline to another terminal where you actually get on the plane. We ran the entire length of the terminal only to be told at the check-in that we were shit out of luck. I won’t say it was the worst feeling I’ve ever had, but it’s the most angry I’ve been in many years. I was so visibly upset that Lisa had to tell me to calm down lest the lady who was booking us onto another flight tell us to go fuck ourselves.
Our new itinerary: a three hour wait in Rome, a nine hour flight to JFK, another three hour wait, and finally a brief flight from New York to Boston. With any luck we’d be home by midnight. We checked our luggage and hit the bar.
Somehow we survived both the interminable delay and the interminable flight. We collected our luggage and headed to the desk to ask where to go to get our connecting flight. We gave the guy our flight number and he said, “Oh, that flight’s been canceled.”
You know how in cartoons when something traumatic happens a character will develop a network of cracks and then a butterfly or something will land on him and then he collapses into a pile of rubble? That’s exactly how I felt.
All remaining flights to Boston had been canceled due to weather, so while a nice lady switched our tickets to the first flight Wednesday morning Lisa formulated an alternate plan. I was so mentally burned-out by this time that I was totally useless. After a few brief discussions with the skycaps Lisa led us off to a tramline that would take us to the Howard Beach station where we would hop on the A train. Eventually we wrestled our increasingly heavy luggage up the stairs and through the turnstiles at the Canal Street station in lower Manhattan.
It was now around nine at night and we were trudging toward our last hope: the Fung Wah bus. Just before we got on the subway my phone had just enough juice to confirm that there was a ten o’clock bus and we had set out hoping that it wasn’t sold out. Struggling along Canal Street we found a cop who confirmed that the station was a 15 minute walk away, and let me tell ya: that was the longest 15 minutes of my life. Plunking down the money for those tickets was the best feeling I’d had all day.
We actually had about a half-hour to kill so Lisa went around the corner and came back with a big soda and a box of Popeye’s fried chicken. We sat on folding chairs on the sidewalk and ate while a mother and daughter screamed at each other about missing a train. It was that kind of day.
The bus pulled into South Station just a few minutes before 2 AM this morning, a mere 25 hours after we started our return trip. I’m not even going to mention the fact that our taxi driver almost got us killed on the ride home because in light of all the other fucked-up shit that happened it barely registers as notable.
Oh yeah, I was back at work this morning at 8:30.
The one bright spot in the whole fiasco came while we were waiting for our luggage at JFK. At our gate in Rome I’d noticed an aging rocker-type with floppy grey hair and a guitar slung over his shoulder. I casually pointed him out to Lisa and told her that it had to be Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo. At the carousel in New York Lisa borrowed a pen from somewhere and asked him if he would sign the Sonic Youth bio that I’d brought with me. Which he graciously did.
Since I’ve apparently gotten too lazy to update this shit on a timely basis I’m just gonna break down the past few weeks in one fell swoop. Believe me when I say that you haven’t missed much.
TV: Imagine my surprise when, after finishing the second season of “Dexter,” I went to Netflix to start season three and found that every episode had been removed from their streaming library. Showtime has decided to limit the availability of the show in an attempt to drive more viewers to their own services, but oddly the first four seasons are available as through-the-mail DVDs from Netflix.
Unfortunately, the quality of Netflix’s DVDs suck donkey dick. Lisa and I made it though the first episode and a half before the disc crapped out. I cleaned the thing with Windex and still it refused to play. Trying to play the third episode actually made my DVD player walk across the room and hurl itself out the window. I’m not about to buy the complete season at BestBuy and I can assure the suits at Showtime that I will not be adding them to my cable package just to watch one show. So, perhaps, “Dexter,” you and I were never meant to be.
My daughter: She spent the week here at the end of June and I was in a fucking tizzy because she was entirely stand-offish and unpleasant. She didn’t want to do anything but watch TV, and she was very remote and cold to Lisa to boot. It was the sort of proto-teenager churlishness that I wasn’t expecting to arrive for at least another few years. Quite frankly, it bummed me out, mostly because it seemed to come from out of nowhere.
Luckily she seems to have made a full recovery from whatever was ailing her. Mealtimes are once again full of gross fart jokes and non-stop monologues rather than long, diffident silences. She’s back to belting out Britney Spears songs at the top of her lungs during the car ride to get ice cream cones. And best of all she’s warmed back up to Lisa. When we all went to the local pool last weekend she pestered Lisa to play with her almost the entire time.
The Red Sox: I don’t have a good feeling about this team. The hitting has been excellent considering Crawford’s slow start and subsequent injury, and J.D. Drew’s utterly predictable futility. But now the pitching has become a huge concern due to injuries to Buchholtz and Lester (and perhaps Beckett). This team can’t survive for long if Lackey and Miller simply have to be counted on every time out.
The trade deadline is coming up at the end of the month and I don’t like that the only players the Sox have rumored interest in are from the National League. I don’t trust pitchers coming over from the NL due to the crippled lineups they regularly face. You, dear reader, have a very good chance at throwing a quality start against a team like the Houston Astros. And I’m not all that thrilled with the idea of replacing our overpriced broken-down right fielder with someone else’s overpriced broken-down right fielder. To put it in Belichickian terms, it’s not “good value.”
Perhaps there are a few sleepers out there on the trade market that I’m not aware of and all the Beltran talk is just a smoke-screen to distract other teams from the Sox’ true intentions. I hope so. But I also hope Lester and Buchholtz come back soon because this team is toast without them.