Thursday, September 23, 2010

Taste Sensation: How to Make Rocket Potatoes AKA Failurepie

Psychological Footing:
Begin with an idea, half-conceived in both potential methodology and probable outcome. Approach task confidently as many of your attempts at culinary high seas adventuring have been successful, however opportunities to cook with such abandon are rare and always met contentiously.

Physical Ingredients:
Two habenero peppers. Three jalepeno peppers. A bundle of green onions. Potatoes. Milk. Butter. Kosher salt. Fresh ground pepper. Rye flour. Corn starch. One egg. Corn meal.

Get a pot of water out. Use tap water, even though you know your house was built during the salad days of the Coolidge administration so you must be certain that the water comes in through lead pipes. Assume boiling gets rid of the lead. What else can you do?

Cube the potatoes. Ignore the one that's a little green in parts because that's not mold, sometimes potatoes are green a little like that. It's not important to know how many potatoes for this recipte. Just eyeball it, but since five peppers will be going into it, its safe to use a lot to help deaden the hotness.

Also note, the size and uniformity of the cubed potatoes is irrelevant. So long as the potatoes get cubed and you have not hurt yourself, you have successfully cubed the potatoes.

Dump potatoes into the water. Rinse the habenero peppers, cut off the tops and throw them in the water as well to boil more or less whole. Leave in the seeds for that is where the hotness is. Let it cook.

The step to peel the potatoes was not skipped. These are skin-on mashed potatoes.

While this is boiling, take time to relish in the moments where this seems to be a good idea. A taste sensation. How hot these thick and creamy mashed potatoes will be. It's nice to believe in lies.

While that's all boiling, chop up the jalepenos in little bits. Don't decide what to do with them yet. Just realize that whatever step comes next, these need to be chopped up now. Put some kosher salt in with the water. You've heard that's good for boiling stuff. Respond to the living room and watch an episode of True Blood.

When the potatoes are yielding to a knife, but not entirly soft, you should be able to smell the sweet hot of the habenero and it nearly burns your eyes from its spicy heat. Now, dump in the jalepenos. Decide this on a whim. Be sure to include the seeds again for this is where the hotness lies. Ignore the feeling that these potatoes will already be bracingly hot due to the habenero essence mingling throughout all the potatoes. You already have the jalepenos chopped...what else can be done? Let them boil for a while, say 5 minutes, while the last few exciting moments of the True Blood episode transpire.

Return to the kitchen. Strain the potatoes and peppers. Put into a bowl. Put on some butter, a few teaspoons and apply milk as you would to a bowl of cereal. This means pour in milk until you see the milk through the bits in the bowl. As for the amount of butter to add, do what feels natural and go for about 3 tablespoons because that's abotu how much butter was left in that half-used stick anyway, and you were just going to use half that much, but you cut the stick wrong, so what else could be done? so just go ahead and do it. Now add kosher salt and some fresh pepper to taste.

Get out the eletric handmixer. Turn to the lowest setting. Commence.

Hot milk and bits of pepper will be flung around the kitchen, but ignore that. Sometimes kitchens get messy, go for it. This is still a taste sensation. Keep working the hand mixer. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

Notice now that it's not getting creamier. It's not doing anything, really. Realize you've made some kind of creamy pepper potato stew. Whip it some more. A bit more. Keep going. Give up.

Now comes the creative part. This simply must be thickened. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Add some rye flour. Some being the exact measurement. Also shake in a little corn startch because that thickens up stuff as well...and you've had success using it before with the faux chicken pot pie. Throw it in the oven and let it bake while the oven preheats. It goes without saying that this should be done with an oven safe container, though you probably didn't use an oven safe container to hold the potatoes at first. That's okay. Doing dishes is fun like penance. Respond to watch another episode of True Blood.

When the oven is through heating up, give the potatoe mess a bit longer to cook, say 2 minutes. Pause True Blood. Remove from oven. Understand that his has done very little, making it about the consistency of cream of mushroom soup fresh from the can.

Eat some anyway because it's late and fuck it, you're hungry. You've tried, maybe it won't be that bad.

It's bad and scorchingly goddamn spicy. They would rub this stuff on testicles of detainees at Guantanamo to hear their deepest enough to burn leukemia from enough to warp time around the bowl where when you see it it is actually three minutes into the future. Eat some anyway. You've worked hard and remember that time you drank beet juice. How the first drink was delicious but the third tasted like bird vomit. Maybe this will be the reverse and it will get better.

It will not. Experience vurps like coughing shards of sun. Sweat. Survive.

Continue watching the True Blood episode.

Immediately become concerned about taking a shit the next day and know that nothing will be worse unless you also eat an entire four pack of light bulbs and some razors as well tonight. Consider taking some ice into the toliet with you in the morning to rub gently on your anus to soothe your pains (it will not come to this, thankfully).

Once it settles, try to fix the problem because there is a lot of this mess left. Pause True Blood. Dump in about a cup and a half of corn meal. Maybe a little more. A lot of corn meal. Put an egg in there, too. Why not? What you gonna do? Fuck it up? Honestly.

Stir it all up real good. Set oven to 375 degress. Throw it in the oven and let it warm up while it bakes. Let it cook until the top turns brownish or so.

You're not eating any of this tonight so let it cool on the stovetop. Continue to recover while watching the thrilling end to this episode of True Blood.

Cover. Store in fridge overnight.

Lament publically in your failure. Give the concoction a jazzy name or two. Take that one dump you were deathly afraid of, gritting it out like cowboys do when bullets are cut from them. Chewing on a leather strap is not necessary to endure it, but think later that it would have been helpful.

Remind yourself that last time you tried to make mashed potatoes normally you had messed that up, too, so wonder what made you think pepper infused mashed potatoes would be better. Be undeterred. Stay confident in your abilities. Wait for a chance to try your potatoes.

Know you can cook. You are good at it. This is just one failed experiment. It will get better. And, you never know, maybe this will turn out okay. Maybe rocket potato bake will be a taste sensation...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Second Acts

Lucy Grealy, as depicted in Ann Patchett's book, is a selfish asshole. She's the worst kind of intellectual girl, the kind you try not to roll your eyes at because they're just so "fun" and "different" and "free spirited" but it just seems more that they just really, really, really want to be noticed. Essentially, she's Natalie Portman in that Garden State movie. Funny thing is, I was pretty captivated by her in this book. The whole thing really drew me in even though I found Lucy pretty much consistently irritating throughout just begging for constant attention and reassurance. But, can you blame her?

For those unfamiliar with the story, the memoir is of Ann Patchett's selfless friendship with the selfish Lucy Grealy. Lucy was the toast of Sarah Lawrence where Ann got to know of her and they both got into Iowa's MFA, and they became fantastic friends until Lucy's early death (she didn't die from a cancer relapse though). The thing that makes Lucy's story so different is that Lucy had childhood cancer and lost part of her face to it, which she wrote about in her own memoir, Autobiography of a Face. Since she grew up mutilated in such an obvious way that cannot be masked, it of course caused some emotional scarring along the way; being shunned and stared at and openly mocked by children and assholes alike does take a toll on a person's psyche. So maybe that's what let me forgive her trespasses.

Lucy did try to undo what the cancer took from her. She underwent countless surgeries, most of them sounding more like Dr. Frankenstein experiments with skin, bone and tissue grafts, oh and the three years in Scotland with her face skin being expanded. It made the whole doctoring profession seem more like a child trying to untie a complicated knot in a fishing line, not exactly science-like precision as we imagine it, just trial and errors and effort. Knowing she underwent all that, also made me forgive her attitude a little.

Also there were the letters that Patchett shared which I found really interesting so it let Lucy speak for herself (to a degree, assuming they weren't heavily edited/changed for the book) instead of just this image of Lucy from Ann's point of view the whole time. That also revealed the Lucy that Ann actually saw and not the image of Lucy Ann had to portray in the memoir, if that makes any sense.

Long and short of it is, it's a fine book, a decent read. Well worth the used price I paid for it. I wasn't particularly moved by it, which I blame on the sudden appearance of Lucy being a hard drug user, which I did not see coming at all in a bad way...the surprise did not seem to fit for me because I didnt' see any behavior beforehand that would be indicative of a person who would start in using heroin. Maybe that's not fair and there wasn't...Lucy just sprung it one day on Ann, a little "By the way, I'm chasing the dragon. Bye, pet!"

But the more I think about this book, there's an element that bugs me about it. And it probably bugged Lucy, too. She has this face issue. Not her fault she got cancer and it robbed her of a normal life because of a section of her face was amputated. Anyway, her whole life is lived in relation to that face problem. No matter what she achieves, there's that face problem. She'll never not have that face problem, even if she didn't. Even if she had a surgery that was a total success, she'll always have that face problem.

In my own selfish lot, people don't have to know that I had a huge weight problem unless I tell them. People who I meet now have now image of the 140 pounds heavier me, so it's easy for me. I can live beyond my problem. Not Lucy. She never had the chance to be anything but the overcoming of a problem.

Take her sex life shown in this book for example. The amount of sex Lucy has in this book, if factual, is phenomenal. And the whole time, I was left thinking, "But, she has that face thing right? She can't be that bad off if she's having sex with this kind of regularity. I know some regular looking people who aren't this lucky in the bedroom. She must talk one helluva game." Her sex life is tied straight to her face. Her one super-successful about her face. Honestly, this whole book is kind of about, in some way, Lucy's face and her achievements & failings because of it.

And that's what bugs me about this book since it's subtitled "A Friendship." This isn't so much about the friendship because to be honest, the friendship is mostly one sided with Lucy using Ann like a crutch, a blanket, a disciple. Being a few days removed from the close of the book, and writing this pretty tired, I can't think of a single thing that Lucy gave Ann besides the pleasure of her company. Mostly, this is about what Lucy's face did to her from Ann Patchett's point of view. Maybe that's the point, I don't know.

But I have to wonder what Lucy thought about her predicament, which is why I'm reading her book next. Mostly, I'm interested in how self-aware she was of the problems the face issue presents for her. Like, did she think that she would be anything other than the girl with the face problem? Did she resent, but yet also kind of enjoy the face problem to a point? By enjoy, I don't mean she ever outwardly would ever say thanks for the cancer that took her teeth and the ability to close her mouth, that would be absurd, but her position as a successful writer came about because of her face (though maybe she would have "made it" as a poet if not for the memoir, and just on the strength of her writing alone). That face problem defines her, we can agree on that, so how she dealt with that definition would be interesting to read about. For a frame of reference, there are times where I think my entire life is in some way revolving around my weight, and I hate that deeply and I don't manage it well. But, what was Lucy's relationship to her face beyond seeing it as something to fix or change? I don't think I'm making my point very well.

Anyway, go read Ann Patchett's book. It's succeeds in spite of itself, which is what we should all strive for as people, yeah?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


This bullshit ruined me.

Maybe I shouldn't rely so much on pants sizes to make me feel good about myself. I know that. But it was a pretty big goddamn deal for me to wind up wearing 36 sized pants after not being a 36 forever was a great moment. Then to find out that I'm not actually a 36. That's I'm probably a 39...that's fucking with me.

Why, Esquire, why did you have to turn my wardrobe into a house of lies?

I guess it doesn't diminish my weight loss accomplishment. Since I was wearing a 46 in Old Navy pants so I must have really been a 60 or something ridiculous like that. Fucking hell. Was I really that bad? I didn't feel that bad off. And how can I still be that bad off? What the fuck do I have to do?

It's enough to drive you into depression motivated eating and drinking. Okay, so it already has done that to me, which isn't cool because of that cycle of bad behavior that creates. (You feel bad, so you eat, which makes you feel worse, so you eat again...viola, you wake up at 350 pounds and sweat while typing quickly).

I could go on and on, but I'm tired, a little drunk and it's Sunday so tomorrow is Monday morning. To be continued...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking Back

I paged back through some of my BOMM posts, and I realized a few things.

1) I had ridiculous expectations for this new job as for it being some kind of cure all for my non-writing. Here I am, nearly a year into my "new" job and not only am I writing less, but I'm also reading less. I'm generally just accomplishing less than before. I'm even working out less. Yet, I feel busier. I don't even have kids. Maybe it's not kids that make people feel busy, it's just being in their 30s. I hate feeling this busy. What am I rushing around for? And am I really rushing around? I didn't do a damn thing today aside from work, run, eat, fill out a form, make some lunches, fold some clothes while watching this on tv, and then tool around online. Oh, I showered, too. That's not a lot. I need to do more. Reading and writing needs to be in there everyday, but goddamn if I could figure out where.

2) I had a lot to say about my weight loss, though none of it was entirely enlightening. Oh, that's nearly a pun or something right there. Anyway, weight loss in practice is just hard work in correcting a mistake. It's like using a shitty eraser. It takes a lot of time, you have to take it slow, and you're still going to leave green streaks on the paper and never really mark out what was already there. Right now I'm sitting at around 218, I think, so I'm okay, but it just never feels like enough. I still feel terribly fat and out of shape. Like today, my goal was to run from home to the Capitol and back. I made it there and about a quarter (or so) way back before I broke down and couldn't do it anymore. I know I can do better. Yeah, that's weight loss right there in a nutshell. "I suck, I suck, I suck. I'm still sucking. I suck less than yesterday, maybe, but sucking is I." That's not enlightening, that's depressing and telling people what they already know.

3) I miss doing Bad Music Sundays, but they all would have commercials in front of them now, probably.

4) I need to write more reviews. I also need to read more (see number 1).

5) I have a preoccupation with the politics of men's bathrooms and also I'm shitty at picking MLB teams.

6) Mustaches are still awesome.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Like These Girls I Knew in High School

This season, my baseball team, the Cardinals, is killing me. At the beginning of the year, at first blush, there was nothing wrong with this team. They were rolling along, winning and then came the injuries, the abysmal hitting, and one stupid trade and here the Cardinals are now, they just look pathetic. I mean, tonight, Randy Winn was batting fifth. Randy fucking Winn? You know he has never been the playoffs? Anybody ever wonder if maybe Randy Winn is cursed? Just saying.

Anyway, back to my analogy in the title because this years Cardinals reminds me a lot of these twin girls I knew in high school, the Flautists (not their real name). They were identical in every way, always seemed cheerful, friendly, and wholesome in that Fellowship of Christian Athlete / chorus (or glee club, I suppose) kind of way. And also, at my first viewing of them, I thought they were okay looking young ladies. That is not to say that I believed they were among the hotties I ogled and nicknamed with friends (oh, the nicknames we had), but the best I could hope to achieve, on the pretty side of things.

But they Flautists were always kind of derided and made fun of, though I didn't understand why, I mean, they seemed all right to me. Then I got a closer look. They sort of clomped when the walked, like their ankles didn't bend. They were a little thicker than some, but I didn't mind that, that's no big deal, I mean I was (and am, thank you) fat, so whatever, no judging there. But...they had arm hair thicker than mine. A kind of starter kit uni-brow. A dark-haired lady mustache.

So, I thought....Oooohhh, I get it now. That's why people didn't think they were pretty at all. How could I have missed that? I mean, they've been wearing short sleeves all year long, why did it take me so long to notice? Huh.

A better person would have maybe reevaluated their concepts of beauty. I, at the time, lacking a sense of enlightenment was just disappointed in myself for being fooled. How dare I think they were good-looking-enough-to-be-attainable-by-fatty-pimply-me...they've got mustaches!...what was I thinking. These Flautists are hideous. Sure, I never actually talked to them, but still...I had duped myself into believing something that's not true about these girls. And sports fan, there is no enlightenment or betterment through reevaulation. There is no higher plane of wins and loses. It's all hormones and id and junk like that. It's wins. It's losses.

Which leads me to the Cardinals. What was I thinking that Loshe would be good this year...that Molina, Ryan, & Schumaker would repeat their performances....that Matt Holliday wouldn't wilt like hot spinach when he's needed to perfom...that Brad Penny would stay healthy...that they wouldn't trade Ryan Ludwick for Jake could I have missed all that? How could I have missed that mustachioed lady? It's all just so ugly.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tom Petty Has It All Wrong

The waiting, in fact, is not the hardest thing. It's the starting over that's the hardest part, especially after seeing how poorly these past few times my starting over has gone.

I've tried the theme blog about weight loss and writing, and I have very little to say about either of them it turns out. At least lately. Probably because I haven't been doing a lot of either lately. My weight hasn't changed, but I'm around 215 to 218 which is okay. I want to be lower, but I can handle where I am. I just need to lay off the Amish pies and junk like that. Seriously, Emily and I split a mini Amish-made cherry pie was amazing, but probably a billion fat calories. And working out regularly hasn't been happening either, even though there's very little reason why I shouldn't be able to work out all the time, except for the fact that it takes up too much time. As for writing, well, I have a 500 dollar machine in the other room that I'm currently not using that I bought for the specific purpose of writing more and for a while I had down a good routine and wrote a few thousand creative words, though nothing has come of it yet. Then I move and for a month now, I've been struggling to find a rhythm at this place, and it's been about a month now.

It seems that everyday is spent scrambling from one task to complete to the next. The one other thing we have to buy, or assemble, or store or move or paint or clean. Weekends have been nuts as well, always moving around. I haven't had one quiet or thoughtful moment in my head aside from maybe three bathroom constitutionals, which isn't all that quieting because the toilet is sub-standard here (very low and one of those awful cushion seats, but you need the cushion seat for the extra height, otherwise it would feel like you were shitting while perched on the heels of your feet).

And it's that, that constant attempt to arrange and place that's driving me nuts lately. Right now, I'm looking at about a dozen things on my desk that need to be rearranged and therefore puzzled over as to where they actually go. Like, what the fuck is going on with these two coupons? We don't even buy egg beaters...and that pile of blank VHS tapes....what the fuck do I do with them...and the paint samples...and the Learn Italian audio CD, and come to think of it, that whole fucking milk crate of CDs and shit...

I just want to burn it all if I think it would make a difference because even then, I would have the ashes to contend with.

Living here, so far, as been the most agonizing puzzle where each time one piece is pressed into place a different piece is broke in two.

There just more clutter here than a Kansas graveyard. What? Too soon? Oh, you don't get it. In Cold's name was Clutter then they got blasted by those guys...and they lived in Kansas...there ya go.

And each time I straighten or purchase or move, it's just not I could be doing one more thing to get it right, but I can't somehow. And I then get distracted by all the things I should be doing, like writing. There's just a lot of noise it seems. And clutter...and misplaced coupons and a fucking stamp set that's never been used just sitting there for who the hell knows what reason...

I gotta take care of these things.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Like Riding a Bike

A couple weeks back, I rented a bicycle and rode it around some parts of Madison. I haven't picked up a bicycle in 22 years, if not longer. And oh those 22 years ago, I wasn't very good at riding bikes either. I was unsteady, afraid to fall, and also, I had nowhere in particular to go. Then one day I did fall, so, you know, fuck bikes.

My parents leaned on me to keep riding the bikes, and apparently I said to them, "You only want me to ride that bike so I can hurt myself." What a nasty thing to say, even for an eight-year-old. When I told them that I had a desire to ride a bike again and intended on buying one, they told me that above line several times.

Anyway, it took me 40 minutes or so and two different bicycles to be able to ride the thing. I was out there in a parking lot near one of the busiest streets in Madison and a well-traveled bike path trying to relearn, Being uneasy, stumbling, swearing, and generally just unable to do it. Someone had to have been laughing at me because it was ridiculous, especially that time when I couldn't do it and the preschoolers rode by without any worry in the world. But, after I conquered the beast, there was a moment when I was bicycling in my uneasy fashion on a straight piece of path where I came upon a handicapped man cruising down the bike path in his electric wheelchair.

At this point of my bike riding re-education, I was nervous to pass anyone because I couldn't hold the bicycle straight. I would wobble a lot. Turns were nearly impossible. And, after riding the bike, my left hand was numb for two days because I was that scared about falling, hurting myself, and otherwise feeling like an ass. Therefore passing a man in an electronic wheelchair was going to be daunting for me.

Plus, the handicapped guy had some erratic movements. Like he would stop suddenly or veer way over into another lane. Not that he was a prick, but he was really messed up, like Stephen Hawings kind of messed up. Probably hard to control one of those motorized chairs if you've got all those problems.

However, that guy, and all his issues in his chair was in front of me. And I had to get around him. Passing people is a part of biking. Before I went, I stopped a ways back and assessed the situation, made sure nobody else was coming so I can pull this maneuver without any collisions. Anyway, I shoot the moon, announce "On your left!" to the guy in the wheelchair and cruise on by. Success!

Emily then catches up to me and we chat for a bit about the successful passing of the guy in the wheelchair and I say to her the following:

"You know, even if I did hit him, it's not like I was going to fuck him up any worse than he already is."

Which reminds me of blogging. I'm unsteady at it, an infrequent user, and at times inappropriate. But, you know, I want to do it and it's not like I'm going to fuck it up. So, here's to restarting my efforts, once again.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two Trapped Posts

Since I went home for Father's Day, I haven't been able to get back into a routine when it comes to these posts. Well done, Johnson. It lasted, I think, 9 days before I screwed the pooch and fell of the wagon posting these things. Anyway. Here's two posts that sat trapped on my traveling computer for a while. They are written in the same rushed, one-draft policy that the other posts here have followed.

Mom said, Oh, you’re so skinny! She poked me on the shoulder and felt the bone protruding through the skin. Feel your shoulder, it’s not that big of a deal. Most people of appropriate weight have their shoulder bones showing like that. Anyway, Mom took it as a sign of malnutrition. Malnutrition is a strong word, but this weekend when I was back in St. Louis, I was fed like a person suffering from not enough food. She said, Do you want this? while holding out a fritter or something and then she’d say, Oh take it, go one, take it. One weekend isn’t going to hurt you. Try it.

Honestly, I still feel fat, and that’ll be the way I feel for a long, long time, even after these final twenty or so pounds are lost whenever they are lost (I‘m not making it easy on myself). Hearing my mom pronounce me skinny and then push log after brick of food on me in that motherly pressure way, I now feel even fatter. Bloated. Obese. Disgusting to myself and others. I have let down myself and all the disciplined choices I’ve been making.

I don’t blame Mom for acting that way. All my life, I’ve been her fat little boy and to come home, turning my nose up at extra portions and turning down ice cream, potato chips, and everything else, it’s worrying to her. Probably also makes me look elitist, like I’m too good for what she wants to give me. Or least I’m afraid that’s how she feels.

This weekend I relented. I don’t want to recount the food I ate or the calories I know I consumed because it was too many. It was a weekend of food that I shouldn’t be eating, no matter what, and I had choices. I could have always said no. However, during the one very big home cooked meal I had this weekend, I didn’t push against anything put in front of me and I could tell it made my mom quite happy to see me chowing down like I used to. After dinner, just like I used to, Emily and I went out for frozen custard to just heap more and more ugly pounds of food into my body.

The last day I was home, I felt just generally depressed. It wasn’t a sadness because I was leaving, though I bet that was part of it, but I had come to realize that I don’t want to live that way ever again. As nice as it would be to be close to home to see my parents, I have my own life away from my mom without old expectations or rituals or pressures. And, you know, maybe I am better than my old life.

Maybe that makes me a terrible person for saying it, but that’s the way I feel now. I like food choices being my own and without pressure.

When I was a young fat kid, I had this feeling that if I could only move out, then I would be able to get control of the food and everything that I did to make me fat and reverse it. It took me years after I moved out to get a hold on that because I still ate like a moron and without exercising or anything remotely resembling physical activity.

At my parent’s place, unable to fight their peer pressure about food and everything, I relapse and go home feeling terrible about myself. My foremost reason being for thinking of this as an excuse because I’m not powerless against Mom’s deserve to push food on me like the way I was when I was in her house. I can say no, but goddamnit it’s difficult, much more than it should be.

My dad’s heart surgery went well and he should be back home today, barring any complications. Even got to speak to him over the phone, so I’m feeling relieved about that.

My own condition, well, I don’t know anything else about that. I’ve been tested and the results seem normal. The doctors are supposed to discuss the next plan of action with each other and then let me know what happens next.

However, the new worrisome is my two aunts. One of them, Aunt Sissy, is having knee replacement surgery. That isn’t the troubling part. She’s a tough broad, so swapping out knees won’t cause her any issues. However, she has a heart condition that was discovered in preparation to the knee surgery. Further testing is pending and they’ll find out what’s troubling her. My other aunt, Aunt Cheryl, has a raging case of diabetes that will probably result in both her legs from the knee down being amputated. She, too, has a heart condition, congestive heart failure (or maybe it’s congenital, I don’t know which).

Here’s the problem I’m having: I don’t feel worried. I know I said I’m worried in the above paragraph, but I don’t feel it. It hasn’t manifested as feelings yet, only habits. I’ve noticed that lately I’m having trouble sleeping. I’ve talked about all these issues with whoever would listen to me, but the corresponding worrying feelings just haven’t been there. It’s like I’m having these outward expressions of worry, yet not actually feeling worried.

Is that normal? Is that what worry is, behavior without feeling? It’s not the kind of worry that I’m familiar with, surely. There’s usually a kind of mental tightness that goes with it or the thoughts are just dogging me as I play out each possible scenario in my head. This batch of problems, it’s been more like I’ve been just living my daily empty-thoughted day to day and then I just find myself talking about these things, even if it wasn’t anything to do with the conversation I’m involved in.

So, I guess it’s clear that it really is bothering me because I’m exhibiting the behaviors…right?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Above is my EKG reading from this evening. It's regular and according to the doctor who looked at it, it's good, but you never know. The doctor, who is not my regular doctor, spoke to me incredibly fast. He went on and on and on about a great many things related to the heart incident I had. He asked a lot of questions, had a lot of good information and told me something that I knew already. That throb with chest weakness that I felt on the treadmill...who knows. The above EKG shows that while I have a low resting heart rate, that it was behaving well right then. Maybe, at some other time, it would misbehave. So he said maybe we can echocardiogram me. Maybe put me through the paces of a stress test. Maybe this. Maybe that. Maybe something else. Surely a blood test and then, maybe this other thing. But, you know, probably just had too much caffeine and not enough water. Drink more water, cut back on caffeine and maybe it's this other thing, too, that we could test this other way as well.

That's what I hate about medicine. Everyone, I'm sure, feels the same way. Why can't they just tell me, definitively, what's wrong with me? I mean, I clearly explained it precisely how it felt? Right? I couldn't remember anything incorrectly, forget a detail, or use words to describe the sensation I felt that would be wholly different than the words the doctor would use. I mean, come on, I told him what it is, he should know how to fix it.

All in all, it was reassuring in a sense. He didn't knock me out right there and demand I have a heart operation. He also didn't say I couldn't exercise, so I'm going to start running and biking and everything else soon. And that's relieving. But he did mention Jim Fixx, so that sure as hell wasn't a reassuring reference for the doctor to bring up, but that's exactly why they want to be careful.

What was funny to me, as well, is that while sitting there and he's going over all these potential extra tests and blood tests, all I could think about was The New Yorker article about how people want all the medicine and tests they can get, which in turn drives up health care costs. So while he's going on about all this stuff, I'm thinking, "Yeah, great, but I don't want to be a health care cost sponge."

He did shake my hand twice over the fact that I've lost all this weight. The way he reacted made me realize that I never really appreciated how big of a deal it is that I've lost 130-plus pounds over all these years. Most of the time, I think of the weight loss as a big deal, but ultimately something that had to happen and something that anyone could do. I mean, I've made this mess, I should be able to fix it. So should anyone else. It never felt extraordinary, just regular ordinary. Because if I can do it, then it must be ordinary, right?

Oh, one final note about this doctor's trip before I close this 15 minute spot up...the nurse was crazily obese. That just doesn't sit right with me. That's like seeing your nutritionist eating a Double Down sandwich from KFC while drinking a milkshake. The nurse was very nice, professional and efficient...however, come on, buddy, you're in health care! Knock it off.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Why I Hate My Current Apartment: 3

That's a light switch that doesn't do anything. Notice how dark it is in the picture and also notice the on position of this light switch. This is what I'm talking about. There's another light switch in my bathroom that is like this as well. There's actually four light switches that operate the bathroom. There's two lights, each on their own switch. There's the stink and steam fan. And then there's this other mysterious goddamn light switch that doesn't do anything except move from off to on. Probably turns on the hot water in the next apartment.

There's also my "intercom" system which actually provides no intercoming. Oh, it'll buzz a person in, but if you want to ask if the person buzzing your door is the UPS man or an irritating fuck from down the hall who forgot their keys or some mysterious burglar, you don't get to know. You have to let them in to find out. The "Push to Talk" button doesn't work.

All of these are truths that have been truths for the last two years. I've never pursued them with the rental management to get them fixed, so I realize that it's my fault. However, is it too much to ask for shit to work like it's supposed to? I don't think it is.

What's funny, is that I really don't care that much about those broken bits. That light switch, eh, we get by. The mysterious light switch in the bathroom? We just don't use it. The broken intercom? Eh, that's been a problem like 10 times in two years, if that many. It's just the idea that they're broken and they never worked as designed that bothers me. And, I'm not one to cause an actual stink over something that I want to operate properly out of principal.

Does that make me an unassertive person? It says something about me that I've just sort of grinned and beared these issues with broken shit and didn't even so much as make a peep about them. And it's something that I don't like.

Really where we live is just a representative of our characters. So these broken things I've never bothered fixing are indicative of what, exactly in me? What do I know that's been wrong, but never bothered to fix because I just don't care? Eyebrow length? I don't know. I've never been a strong whistler, either. Maybe that's the correlation.

That's probably what pisses me off the most about these broken things is what it suggests about me moreso than it actually not working. Like this broken intercom, what kind of person leaves that broken for two years without even mentioning it to someone who can fix it? I don't know. But I know I don't like it.


I know the above post isn't up to snuff for me, but I'm pretty tired. I slept last night on the couch because I couldn't sleep and it got to a point where I thinking about not sleeping so that means I couldn't sleep. So I crashed on the couch and watched TV until I got my mind off of not sleeping. Anyway, right now, I'm pretty tired and nervous. Tomorrow, I have a doctor's appointment for this episode I had while running on a treadmill. I keep telling myself it's no big deal. I know it's no big deal. But I'd be stupid to not hear the "But you never know" little voice in the background. And I know tomorrow, I'll get tested, poked and so on, but there's won't be answers. Answers come in two to three weeks or something like that. Eh. Maybe I'll know tomorrow. Either way, I hope I get some sleep tonight.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Don't Talk to Me with Your Dick in Your Hand

Silence is necessary at urinals. I don't care who you are, or your rank, while me and you are pissing, we don't talk.

I don't understand the need to chat while pissing. Doesn't seem like a particularly social occasion. Two bulls hanging out, in a bathroom, dicks presented...sure, let's chat about weather. Doesn't seem right.

Just get in there and get out. Treat bathroom trips like a bandit. No reason to do anything else in there except God's dirty work.

I've been trapped a couple of times lately into conversations whilst pissing that I didn't want to be a part of. Sad thing is, how do you shut down a urinal chat?

You can't say, "Dude, not now." Because that opens you up to the whole "Why?" questioning and then you're left explaining the politics of a silent piss to some dude you don't want to talk to in the first place.

You stand there silent after someone entreats you with a conversation started like, "How's it going?" then you're just a jerk for not responding without a least a cursory "Doing good."

Then again, really, if you are going to be cock flangrante next to a complete stranger, maybe asking "How's it going?" isn't a bad plan of attack because if the guy doesn't answer or starts foaming at the mouth or gives you some crazy answer, then you have a clue that you can just hold it. No reason to go pecker-out next to a feller who wants to bite your face or other parts.

It's still awkward though. There are no winners with a urinal conversation. What kind of conversation can really be had then? I mean, if I get asked "How's it going?" and I start crying? How would that guy feel then? Could you piss next to a person you just made cry? Maybe you can, I don't know what type of dude you are, but I don't think so.

Also, come to think of it, the times I've been asking "How's it going?" maybe I've been displaying some disturbing urinal behaviors that I'm unaware of. Like I have a speech tic that I can't hear but some friends have picked up on where I kind of go "Hmm-ss" after some words. It's a kind of half-laugh thing that just happens. I don't hear myself do it and I don't know why it happens, nerves probably. Anyway, maybe when pissing I emit a kind of low wail that's indicative of pain or disease and the people who try to talk to me while peeing are just asking "How's it going?" out of concern.

Then again, even you're in a bathroom and there's a guy pissing making noise, are you really going to stand next to that guy? I could walk into the a bathroom and the President could be in there, but if he's going "Uhhhhhh" the whole time he's peeing, I'm not standing next to that fucking guy. I'm out. I can hold it. I'll sneak into the ladies room. I'll piss in an corner or planter or coffee mug some place. No "How's it going?" question will assuage me of any fears that this guy's fucking cuckoo bananas and I don't want to be prone next to him. He could reach over that urinal wall and karate chop my privates or something. No, I don't think so.

By the way, do you think urinal walls preclude the one-urinal spacing rule? I don't think it does. I love urinal walls and think that all urinals should be equipped with them, however, observing the one-urinal rule is still paramount.

In summation, I just have to saw with all finality that I truly, truly wish no one would talk to me while I'm pissing and I'm at a loss how to make that happen. Maybe if I just pee in stalls then no one would bother me, but then I look like a weirdo who only pees in stalls when really I just want to piss without needing to converse. Is that too much to ask? I don't think it is.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Cracker Shopping at Walmart

Fat kids make me sad. Yes, I'm perfectly aware how that sounds coming from me, but it doesn't make it a lie.

Last night, we decided to grocery shop at the Super Walmart to see if it was any cheaper than the regular grocery store options we have. It was cheaper, in all respects, and very depressing.

Maybe it's the lighting and just the aura of Walmart, but the joint really got to me. I felt myself shuffling through the aisles, looking around at the stuff for sale, thinking, "My god, this is what I can afford."

I mean, have you ever looked on the back label of an Oscar Meyer lunchmeat and seen how much stuff is in that besides meat? You know that for the cheaper turkey, it lists one of the ingredients as "white turkey." Not white meat, or breast meat or anything like that but some ominous sounding "white turkey." Does that mean the turkey with the white feathers, or somehow, have they started bleaching turkey meat? We looked at the turkey burgers, the kind pre-frozen and put into discs, and the ingredients read "Turkey and flavoring." What the fuck if "flavoring"? Grime and boogers has a flavor, and if I stuck on a sandwich, I guess it would be flavoring the sandwich, right? Gross.

And then seeing these two rotund 7 years old bowl down an aisle in that side to side lope of the obese. Oh, it's a walk I know well. You don't so much move your knees as swing your trunk side to side, forcing your legs forward at the hips. Anyway, these kids, these two 7 year olds, easily 150 to 175 apiece and they were maybe 4-5 or 4-7. Tiny fat bastards, really. And their mom, equally huge.

Look at that food they eat because that's what's affordable. Even the good stuff, the good for your stuff, stuff like turkey, drenched in sugar and vague promises of "flavor." That's what available. And nevermind the whole Walmartness of the situation.

No ceiling, just those fucking rafters and metal roof. And the floor, which at this Walmart is concrete glazed brown. The florescent lights sort radiating sickliness out there. And then these fat fat fat kids swaying like a boat on waves down the aisle looking for snacks and sodas because that's what's available because that's what they can afford. What else can they do? Water or something with taste that brings joy to their lives, even if it's grossly damaging?

It's just sad.

All this came to me when in Walmart and trying to buy crackers. I was there, reading the back of the box thinking about why is it that crackers need all these ingredients I can't pronounce and why do they need to try to hide the amount of sugar and bad-for-you stuff in there.

Label reading brings on a whole new kind of depression just thinking of all the junk you have to digest because the food without that junk costs 6 bucks a pop and for fewer servings.

I think it was Barbara Ehrenreich who said that healthiness is like the new godliness or morality. That being healthy and eating right somehow gives you a moral superiority or cleanliness. Maybe she's right. It's moral superiority you can buy at jacked up prices. Only the well-off can afford to be morally fed. Hm.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why I Hate My Current Aparment: 2

That right there is the ugly exposed pipes that run our sprinkler system. This was installed over the past few months. Why was this installed now and not, you know, years before when this place was first built? Well, probably because this building at my entire complex is going or have already went Section 8.

Yeah, affordable housing, sure that's all fine and good. I like affordable housing. But affording housing, you get shit like the last picture. You get shit like the above picture. Yeah, the housing is affordable, but why must it feel so cheap?

The above picture was taken in the pantry of our kitchen. So, maybe you could understand why they wouldn't bother covering it up with a big metal box that's roughly the same color as the wall paint (which they did in the other rooms). The piping is also exposed in our closet. It's just so fucking ugly.

My biggest problem is that this change happened suddenly, without out consent and not up to a standard of decoration that we would want. I mean, we do live here after all. You'd think we'd have just a little say as to what goes on here. They've also recently added dogs to the premises around here. Down the hall, the people have a full grown lab. Cute dog, verily, but it's huge, especially for an apartment, and the thing barks all the damn time. I don't mind the barking too much because it's our neighbors who get the brunt of that loveliness, but you can still hear it, very clearly, a lot of the time. Stupid cute dog.

Really, the pipe just underlined how out of control the living situation we have. Yeah, we live here, but it feels like we've sort of nestled into a suite at the Motel 6. Too much of the place around us lost that homey feeling.

Well, let's be honest, the place never really felt like home. The white-walled box we have at least was comfortable, but with the pipes, the dogs, the shitty neighbors (more on them later), just made living here stressful. When you get off work, you should want to come home because it's relaxing, welcoming and just nice. There's nothing welcoming here any more.

Plus, I think the uptick in rent went towards paying for that new sprinkler system and the allowing of dogs. Well, since I didn't ask for a sprinkler system or dogs, maybe I shouldn't have had to pay for it, right? How Tea Party of me, I know.

Still...bright ass orange fucking exposed pipes. Bullshit, I say. There's no reason for it. I would chicken-bomb this place, if not for the fact that there's nowhere to hide a mason jar full of milk and chicken parts, but I also want all of my deposit back.

And, honestly, the pipes make me nervous. What kind of people do they plan on moving into these Section 8 apartments that they can't manage a goddamn stove? Or is there something else going on? Faulty electricity? Combustible paints? What? fucking ass pipes...


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why I Hate My Current Apartment: 1

That's a picture of my patio window. It shouldn't be like that, obviously. A year ago, we were promised a new patio window. See last winter, all that condensation got inside the window and unglued the taped crosshatching. So, how we got those gummy remainders in there to decorate our window.

It really shits on the view because the lawn out there, despite being the place where the dogs shit, can be idyllic on a nice evening. It's especially nice on nights when the Indian fellows are out there on the tennis court playing cricket. But, no, we tend to keep it our shades drawn because we'd have to look at that ugly nonsense that should have been replaced months ago.


See, we shouldn't have to beg. We pay them hundreds of dollars a month to live here, so why must we ride them to get some broken shit fixed? I bet it's because they know the dry wall is also shit and once they rip out the door, it will exposed all the rotten dry wall that's lacquered in 20 coats of apartment-complex white.

And it's not just the door that they've ignored our complaints or been slow to act. The paint was peeling on our bedroom windowsill the day we moved in. We said something about it right then. One year later, they finally replaced the windowsill because, turns out, the wood was rotten.

Really, what's most annoying about the window is that it's depressing. When we moved into this place, it was the best option we looked at. Seriously. Knowing what I know now about Madison, we looked in some supremely fucked up places of this town to live when we first got to town. But this place, it had us fooled. And seeing those tape leavings, like slug trails, inside our windows and the water pooling up in there, it just makes me feel how duped we were. It's like every time I look at that window, I can hear the leasing agent we talked to saying, "Ha ha! Gotcha, dumbass!" And all I can do is say, "Yeah, you got me. I'm a dumbass. You win leasing agent."

There's no point to draw back around to here. Just look at that fucking window! I hope that nothing like this, no kind of grand "gotcha!" awaits us at our new place, which we look upon with rose colored glasses more and more. Seriously, we're counting the days down. We're shopping for furniture for this future place. We've talked about painting. We have 52 days before our lease starts at the new place. And I don't really want to pack up all this stuff and spend ours lifting our thousands of books, but if it means I don't get that daily reminder that I made a two-year long bad decision then so be it I suppose.

Honestly, this window is like a bad old girlfriend you work with. Like you can't help but see her every day at your job and you wish you wouldn't have to, but she's right there by entrance...looking at you, eating her cheesecake yogurt thinking it's good for her but it's not the light Yoplait she's dining on but the full-throttle fat yogurt with chunks of cheesecake as big as eyeballs inside of it and drinking her coffee that's more sugar than coffee and she calls it some awful nickname like her "Browny juicy" or something like that that makes you cringe but for three months you convinced yourself she was hot enough, you know "office hot." Then you woke up. And the tape falls down and you have snail trails. And it sucks, sucks, sucks...and there's nothing you can do but look at it and wallow in your mistake.