Sick kid. Working from
home. Me, not the sick kid ‘cos
that would just be weird.
Sick kid. Working from
home. Me, not the sick kid ‘cos
that would just be weird.
My wife has a new job. She has been asked – in one of those oft-hated ice-breaker type of exercises – to share several things people do not know about her. After a few beers, I crafted a list for her.
[This is not a woe-is-me thing as much as it sounds like a woe-is-me thing.]
Every month there’s a day that goes a little something like this. I get up around 6:00 [did you launch into the chorus of Mr. Brownstone there? I did.] and work from home for four or five hours. At some point I take a shower (so I don’t stink) and dress myself (so I don’t look homeless…or naked) then I hop in the Cactusmobile* and head to the doctor. I wait for half an hour not because my doctor is unresponsive like so many others but because the infusions I’m there for cost so damn much money, they won’t actually mix the stuff until I’m there. I read a book. They eventually come get me, walk me back to your standard patient room and take my vital signs. I react positively to proof that I am still alive but negatively at the fact that my blood pressure is creeping into territory I don’t like. (#thankssteroids) Then I get two very large syringes jabbed into each arm. And since the stuff they’re injecting me with is viscous, it takes a good two minutes per shot. Then I go back to the waiting room and read for half an hour. This is so they can be sure I won’t die. I am appreciative. I read a book. Once again they collect me, do my vitals then tell me to have a nice day. And generally I do.
I complain about modern medicine – and everything really – without sometimes thinking about just how lucky most of us are. Sure, the system could use work. I’d argue that it should be an entirely government-run, socialist system because, well, I’m entitled to my own opinion. But, regardless, I get two massive injections of gunk that cost more than the Cactusmobile for a year’s worth, I pay $35 and I’m marginally healthier as a result (let’s not talk about the legs, okay?).
That’s kinda lucky in my book.
* Think of a giant Joshua Tree with wheels and a cockpit.
When I was a kid, I had pure, unadulterated hatred of The Carpenters. No one – even me – could really explain it. Looking back on it now, sure they sucked but only because they were so safe, so saccharine, so pure with no rough edges. (Kinda like The Wiggles…if two of The Wiggles died and the remaining two transformed themselves into a slightly creepy brother and sister vocal duo. That didn’t work too well.) But I wasn’t mentally weighing these musical factors in order to form some well thought-out decision paper on the relative merit of The Carpenters. I just viscerally disliked them with fiery hot passion. (To this day I still can’t stand them.)
This is why, while I think it’s odd, I kind of get where Owen’s coming when he covers his ears and runs out of a room when Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts begins to play. When the song was more popular, his reaction was quick and strong. He began calling it Jar of Farts and once panicked as he entered the mall for fear that he’d hear it play. There were real tears, people. Luckily, he’s gotten better. Over the weekend we were, in fact, at the mall, the song came on and he merely asked me if the song was still popular, with the implied hope that it would soon fade from popular consciousness and stop threatening his ears. I didn’t bother to tell him that the mall music people probably don’t care even a little bit.
What would you do if you shared an elevator with noted astrophysicist, author and all-around cool guy Neil Degrasse Tyson?
If you’re anything like me you stare a little awkwardly and think that guy looks really familiar, now where have I seen him before? And then, once you stared enough to frighten the famous scientist, you get off the elevator at your floor. Five minutes will pass and then you’ll say holy shit, that was Neil Degrasse Tyson I just freaked out.
Before I dropped off the face of the earth back in May, I’d been dealing with some health issues and keeping you all on the loop on what I hoped was an amazing journey to healthfulness. That’s a word, right? Healthfulness? Anyway, let me recap.
Face rash. MRSA then not MRSA. Massive otherworldly infection. Then not. Five or six different antibiotics that did absolutely nothing except make me poop all the damn time. (You probably didn’t need to know that. Sorry.) More topical cremes and lotions than you can shake a stick at…or even five sticks at. A pretty bitchin’ beard. Steroids. More antibiotics. Steroids again. Blood tests. Steroids. More blood tests. Again with the steroids. Biopsies. Yet another blood test. Allergy testing. Steroids. Seven doctors. Frustration. Applications. Experimental treatment. Infusions.
Several months into all this I filled a long-term prescription for massive doses of steroids. Then I began getting monthly infusions of a medication designed for something way different but showed promise in relieving whatever the hell malady I ended up with. A few months ago I started tapering my does of steroids, slowly so as not to anger my body and plunge me in to bitter depression and homicidal rage. A month ago I lost the ability to walk with the grace to which I am accustomed. (At a particularly low point, I actually surfed Amazon to try and find a cool looking cane. I learned that there isn’t such a thing.) Steroids do terrible things to your body, including breaking down muscles, depleting them of water and potassium, and muscle cramping that causes impressive and unexpected amounts of pain. I am now down to three measly milligrams of steroids (down from over 10 times that much) and I’ve mastered the lost art of hobbling around like a 92 year old man.
I know this all sounds pretty horrible but, you know, you just have to keep going. And that’s a pretty important lesson for me. See, when things fall apart, I tend to stop. In my mind, problems need and deserve immediate attention and, being an immediate gratification kind of guy, I want to solve every problem yesterday. This experience – though I probably could have learned this in a much more constructive and less painful way – has show me that you don’t have to stop when something falls apart. I can chip away at something over time without that thing being my sole focus. Sometimes an immediate answer is nice but not necessary. Sometimes you just just have to keep going in spite of the hurdles ahead of you.
I think one can make a passable argument for comparing musical appreciation to appreciation of the opposite sex. Were I to adopt that metaphor, I think it would be safe to say that I hit musical adolescence in the 80s but popped my musical cherry – if you will – in the 90s.
The 80s were a strange time, musically speaking. Classic blues-based rock took a back seat to punk and early alternative. And pop plugged itself into a 12o volt outlet and became powered by drum machines and synthesizers. The late 80s saw a bit of a change. Hair metal rebelled against the synth-pop of OMD, Duran Duran and The Thompson Twins and, instead, honored blues-rock forefathers like Zeppelin, AC/DC and The Rolling Stones. The alternative angst of the 80s shed its eyeliner and transformed into grunge dirges.
Of course, as the early 90s progressed, hair metal went the way of Adam Ant and Soft Cell and grunge ruled the day. Until…well…two words – boy bands.
When I was in high school I was heavily invested in hair metal. There were bands you’ve heard of – Guns N Roses, Whitesnake, Cinderella, Great White and Skid Row. And bands you haven’t – Bang Tango, Tyketto, Tangier, Savatage, The Electric Boys, and Shark Island. During my senior year, I picked up three albums that changed my life – Louder Than Love (Soundgarden), Temple of The Dog (Temple of The Dog) and Ten (Pearl Jam). And endless stream of inspiration followed in the form of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Mother Love Bone, Green River, Mudhoney and Alice In Chains. But I never forgot those hair metal bands that produced some brilliant albums that still manage to hold up (Appetite For Destruction, anyone?). Nor were the icons – Led Zeppelin, The Who, Deep Purple, Aerosmith – lost on me.
This summer, Beth and I have managed to see four acts ripped from the 80s and 90s Billboard charts – Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Slash and Aerosmith.
My biggest fears were Aerosmith and Soundgarden. I set my expectations low expecting that the two vocalists – Steven Tyler and Chris Cornell, respectively – would have lost something over the years. I was never a big Nine Inch Nails fan so I had no expectations. I expected Slash to rock.
What did I walk away with, you ask?
Nine Inch Nails were the big disappointment, primarily because I’ve never been a huge fan. They sounded fine but I couldn’t tell one song from another and felt like they were trying too hard. But again, not a NIN devotee. Soundgarden sounded fantastic. Sure, I was worried about Chris Cornell’s voice but I shouldn’t have been. It sounded – literally – better than ever. It was amazing to watch him sing and the band behind him support him. Slash rocked as expected. Myles Kennedy – his lead singer – was amazing and the band was tight. Slash himself proved that his position as one of the world’s greatest guitarists is well-earned. I saw Guns N Roses back in 1992. Slash and his band were better. I’ll never forget the version of Sweet Child O’ Mine I heard this past Saturday.
The big story is Aerosmith. Admittedly, I’ve always been a casual fan but never a worshipper. I have all their albums, dive into them occasionally, but I’d never pictured myself heading to one of their shows until Beth told me she could get a good deal on tickets. Aerosmith took the stage and for two hours these five 60-year olds absolutely rocked Washington. The Toxic Twins – Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry – were brilliant and the rest of the band followed suit. I entered a skeptic and left a believer. See for yourself.
One thing’s for damn sure.
Getting out of bed sucked ass.
Five o’clock, bite me.
In case you’re wondering, I did not spend my day off writing A Heartpounding BBW Druid Archeological Adventure Sex Yarn (With Tacos). Instead, I went to Costco and picked up plenty of bulk-sized items, bought plenty of weekend beer, retrieved the 28 shirts (yes, 28) I dropped off at the cleaners earlier in the week, and mowed the lawn on somewhat wobbly legs. Oh, and I took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese but I’m actively trying to repress that particular memory so, you know, there’s that. But then I drank beer and watched Phineas & Ferb so the world was right again.