Some journal posts from July 2005.

Tuesday, July 5–I had the piss scared out of me the other night at Borders-a little Indian boy (Nehru Indian, not Sitting Bull Indian) was running through the store screaming, “KALI! KALI!,” the name of the Hindu goddess of destruction, murder, death, and motherhood (no comment there). It was the name the Thugee cultists screamed in the 1850s when they went out to kill all the white folks in India. Now maybe the little bugger was looking for someone named “Kelly” or maybe he was enthused about what breed of domestic dog was on the menu at home that night, but it sure sounded like “Kali” to me.

Thursday, July 7–I’m awake for the evening, catching up on the news from London. I took Fred out for a walk just before a rainstorm blew in. During that I noticed my jerk upstairs neighbor walking back and forth from his apartment to his car, loading the latter up with clothes on hangers. Could he be moving out? Lawdy, Lawdy, I hope so!

I’m not sure how long this punk has lived in the apartment above me, but I do know that any time he’s home he blasts his stereo. I’ll either hear it over my TV when I’m in the living room, or it’ll shake my walls and ceiling when I’m in my bedroom. Either way, that’s too damn loud. Then the last few weeks he’s started making another noise. I have to assume it’s on a synthesizer or something. It sounds like a rumbling, approaching thunderstorm, to the extent that whenever I hear it I go look out the window to check for rain.

And so, whenever he makes this noise I call the apartment answering service (because the office is always closed when this stuff happens), and they call the cops. But often he finishes up doing whatever he’s doing and goes out for the night before the cops arrive. Last week, though, he was cranking his stereo every day of the week, and I called and reported him every day.

Finally, I was in the office one day getting some packages from Ebay, and I asked one of the office girls what I could do about this asshole. She suggested I just go upstairs and ask the guy if he would please turn the music down, that if I called the answering service too many times they’d start recognizing my name and number and would begin ignoring me. That is not the answer I wanted.

Sunday, July 10th–I got bored and took a long nap, waking at 12:38am. I dreamt I went into that 1950s-style Christian Science Church downtown and wandered around. I found stairs to a basement level. About a half-dozen people were seated in folding metal chairs in one area beside some windows, watching a ten-minute introductory film about Christian Science. I was busy hoarding free booklets and brochures.

Thursday, July 14–In April I’d gotten a letter from my doctor, requesting I get a blood test so they could check the progress of my regular medications (now down only to sinus, thyroid, and cholesterol meds). I was supposed to get the test by May, but I never got around to it. I ran out of my prescriptions over a month-and-a-half ago. I decided to wait on the refills just in case the doc decided to change the prescriptions. But then, I didn’t get off my ass to get the blood test.

You see, they want you to fast from midnight on, the night before the test. The problem with that formula is that it presupposes you sleep at night and get up in the morning, which I don’t. Rearranging my schedule just for a blood test wasn’t gonna work. This naturally threw my mom into a frenzy of nagging, which of course made me put the test off even more just to spite her.

So Wednesday I was awake early and hadn’t eaten since about 10pm Tuesday night, so it seemed like the right time to go get the test. The blood clinic is too close to take a cab to, but far enough of a walk to be inconvenient. I got waited on quickly, but the nurse had a hell of a time finding a vein, as nurses always do with me.

One of the things I inherited from my mother and grandmother, in addition to a boxcar load of neuroses, was a case of “rolling veins.” This means when a nurse or somebody tries to find a vein to stick a needle into, it retreats or “rolls” away from the needle.

As a result, the nurse Wednesday had to squeeze and pinch around for several minutes before she could find a vein. The actual extraction of blood went pretty quickly, though I did wind up with a nasty bruise on the inside of my arm, though I’m not sure if it was caused by the needle, the tightness of the bandage tape she put on, or all the pinching and squeezing she did.

Saturday, July 16–Yesterday I decided to go to the Half-Price Books on 183. I was gonna take the bus down and a cab back. That was a mistake–I had another hour-long wait. I had planned to eat at a Chinese restaurant by the bookstore. I’d never been to this restaurant before, and at any rate when I got there I found it had gone out of business.

I went instead to a large Vietnamese restaurant nearby I’d not seen before. This place had a pull-down screen for a projection TV and a little stage. I learned they often have wedding receptions there.

I wanted spring rolls and “Com Bi,” rice with shredded pork. My waitress had a very thick accent and said,”No, you no want dat. Dat lice shred foreskin. You get lice glill forechop. You like better.”

Well, since “lice shred foreskin” sounded appalling I took her suggestion, but I was expecting shredded pork chop, and what I got was two actual pork chops over white rice, which seems more Southern American “soul food” than Vietnamese cuisine.

And anyway, I’ve never liked pork chops. The mother of one of my friends is the only person I’ve known who could ever make pork chops worth a damn, and I’ve not seen her in about 15 years. Plus, I’ve tried to avoid eating pork since I saw “Babe,” though I do have my lapses and succumb to bacon lust. So now I’m wondering just how bad the lice shred foreskin could’ve been.

[NOTE #1: I’m now a vegetarian, working on becoming a vegan.]

[NOTE #2: And there was this follow-up–]

Well, at my old doctor’s office, they did their blood work in-house, and I usually blacked out and was rendered mute a few minutes.

One time long ago, during my “Tropic of Cancer” years, I had just enough money for food but not enough for smokes. (I quit a couple years ago after smoking 20 years.) I resolved to go sell my plasma for the extra bucks.

I was too proud to appear desperate and poor, so I went to the clinic in a starched shirt and tie, with a copy of “Foreign Affairs” under my arm to read during the blood-letting. I wanted to appear to be slumming. After a lengthy exam, during which I complimented the doctor on his framed prints of a prep school, which I correctly identified as the Lawrenceville School (his alma mater, and which, I confess, I only know through the “Lawrenceville” stories of Owen Johnson), I was shown a cushioned table, three-and-a-half feet off the floor, upon which I was to lay down next to a wino. (A horror for a germaphobe like me!)

The attendant had to draw a little blood first as a test before the actual plasma-removal took place, but he had trouble with my veins and announced he’d have to do the test on one arm and get the plasma from the other.

After the attendant finished the test, he jabbed a needle in my left arm and I looked the other way, tried to ignore the pain, psyched myself up by thinking, “Jack London would ignore the pain–Jack London would work through the pain,” and started reading an article on America’s foreign policy as it related to Red China, written by Richard Nixon.

Fifteen or twenty minutes passed and the attendant came by an bent over me and frowned.

“What’s the matter?”

“No blood is going into the tube. You’re not bleeding.”

“Whaddya mean I’m not bleeding?! I’ve got a needle in my arm!”

He then began feeling around near where the needle went into my skin. Eventually my curiosity overcame my revulsion for needles and I looked over to see what he was doing.

Big mistake.

His finger got closer and closer to the point of entry.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that….I REALLY wish you wouldn’t do that….Please don’t….I’m getting naus….I think I’m gonna black….”

After the initial black-out I began convulsing. I was on my back, looking up at the fluorescent lights four feet above me. Then suddenly the lights were six inches from my face, then four feet, then six inches. It was as if the table was on a hyper-speed hydraulic lift, shooting me up to the ceiling, then bringing me back down just as quickly.

After this passed I was gasping for air. Every attendant, nurse, and doctor was standing around that table, looking over me with enormous eyes.

Someone asked me if I knew where I was. I didn’t know–I couldn’t talk.

Then someone asked me if I knew my name. And I had no idea.

That was perhaps the most frightening thing that’s ever happened to me. And though I didn’t know who I was or where I was, I had this grim certainty within me that said, “So…this is death. This is what death is. It’s all over now.” And I wasn’t sad or depressed–just resigned. There wasn’t time to feel anything else.

After some minutes I finally came to.

A half-hour passed, and a nurse asked if I could stand up, but as soon as I tried to sit up, I got woozy again.

I finally was able to get up and walk like a newborn colt after another hour on the table. The folks at the clinic apparently took pity on me and paid me about two-thirds of the “donation” fee. Clutching my money in one hand and my magazine in the other, I staggered home, somehow managing to not get run over by buses and hot-shot frat boys in jeeps. I collapsed on my bed, and slept for eight to ten hours.

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