Thursday, January 31, 2013

On medicine

I went to the doctor and guess what he told me. Guess what he told me.

He said I have a cold. This was comforting because it meant that I wasn't just coughing and sniffling because I was bored. He said I have a cold. I have no bronchitis (which I thought was a kind of dinosaur) and no pneumonia. I also don't have tennis elbow. He ruled everything else out. I have a cold.

There is, apparently, no cure for the common cold. Or for the uncommon one. I can't believe that I would be so low brow as to contract a common cold, like the kind you'd catch, dare I say it, "on the street." My cold, I am assured, is of a rare breed which flourishes only in the most well heeled sort. But regardless, there is no cure. Usually I'm ok with that because I try to stay off medicine. To be clear, I have nothing against the western medical model of better living through chemistry. I grew up taking medicine and, even when it didn't work I still got to see pretty colored syrups and interestingly named pills. Bottom line, I trust medicine because even if it doesn't work at least I'm doing something. As long as it says on the label "do not take with excessive amounts of alcohol but moderate consumption is still cool with us."

I don't like going to doctors, though. My dad is a doctor and I like going to him, but he keeps saying I have gout and I should take a nap. Well, actually, he says I have gout and he wants to take a nap. But I know what he means. But he doesn't charge a co-pay, just a box of Goldenberg's Peanut chews. I can afford that. I even like hospitals. They are often brightly colored with lines on the walls and there is a sense of order and planning. So that's nice. But a doctor's visit usually means I get half naked, explain my symptoms 5 different times, then get told I'm overweight and I have to see a specialist. By the end of the process, I have seen 4 specialists and a therapist, paid thousands in co-pays, have prescription pads' worth of notes (never an actual prescription...does the PT really have to write my exercise reginmen on a prescription pad? I tried to get it filled once at the pharmacy and they refused) and look forward to the same aches and pains, and mail from my insurance people saying "this is not a bill" or "explanation of benefits" at the top of a blank sheet of paper.

I do take daily medicine to keep the migraines away. It has, they say, a variety of side effects but I don't care because I don't get that many headaches any more. So, in summary, doctor's visits bad, hospitals and medicine, good.

So when the doctor told me I had a cold, while it reassured me that I wouldn't be coughing up my own liver any time soon, it bothered me because it meant that there was no particular cure for what ails me. But then the doctor said that he was going to set me up with a couple of medicines. Yay, I thought. He prescribed some mondo pills to reduce inflamation in my insides and some heavy duty cough syrup to make me insensate to all the coughing. This was a prime example of shooting a mouse with an elephant gun. But I embraced it. I hate mice. And even though they usually go away on their own, and they really aren't causing any serious damage, how can I enjoy my cheese knowing that they are lurking around every corner. And so if you want to get rid of them, why not use an elephant gun. I might take out the family of dogs living next door, or blow a hole in the wall, but as long as the pesky mice are gone, I'm content that I have done right.

And now, 2 days later, I am constantly groggy from the syrup and have no idea if the big pills are doing anything. The coughing has abated a bit (though wouldn't it have over time?) and I think I might be getting somewhat better.

Now if only we could put a man on the moon.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back in the Saddle (River) again

The day didn't start as much it developed from the remnants of last night. i worked hard at not sleeping and fortunately, between my nerves, the coughing and other aches and pains (plus a documentary on female roles in Shakespearean comedies) I was able to limit my dozing to 2 hours or so. So up well before the crack of anything and we got the band together in the rental car. Off to the airport before it was light (no traffic despite the predictions of the front desk crew) so we followed the poor signage and found the car return people. A few minutes later we began the 10 mile trek from the car rental people to the ticket desk. Seriously -- this is a long walk that requires an elevator, a tram, 5 moving sidewalks and a bunch of just plain walking. I signed up with a particular company because I thought that they had some sort of tactical advantage and were "right there." Nope. All the companies are in a separate building a couple of miles away. No shortcuts.

We cleared security, put our clothes back on (I got scanned and patted down, so I had to slip the guy a $20) and made our way to the gate. We got there at 7:15 for 7:30AM boarding. Not bad. Our plane was, again, a 737 with its bathroom to passenger ratio at about 1 bathroom per, um, plane. I doped myself up on meclazine and hoped for the best. The nausea actually set in while we were still in the terminal. And there was precious little bumpiness while sitting in the concourse. But somehow, my system detected planes and started misfiring. We finally settled in to row 29 (out of 30) and I started sweating. The plane taxied backwards about half the way to New Jersey and then we turned around and drove a quarter of the way back to Florida. Then we took off. The problem is, even in the best case, I was tired, coughing, scared and sick to my stomach, and just plain bored (yes, yes..."plane board" I see it...big deal). The ride was smoother than last time but I'd like to remind the captains of an important face -- it isn't called "chop" or "choppiness," it is "turbulence." Sugar coating it doesn't make it any less harrowing. We touched down at about 11AM local time (incidentally, the same time as it was in Florida; why did they need to tell us the "local time" if we hadn't changed zones and this wasn't a connecting flight?) and braved the 20 degree F weather to get ourselves in a cab and home. Our heat, which had been set at 58 for our trip is now chugging away, trying to rise back to room temperature and I am trying to regain feeling in my toes without getting too much feeling back in my stomach.

To sum up -- Miami Beach was lovely. The weather was incredible and the beach and restaurants (when one can get a seat at either one) are fabulous. I started missing the warmth as soon as I deplaned and was hit by a frozen blast of smog. But I still would rather spend my vacation holed up in my own house with the world leaving me alone. I don't like cruises and planes don't do it for me. Maybe I just am not cut out to travel. I can live with that. Well, back to real work. Thanks for tuning in, all. I have a few pictures but nothing revolutionary. let me know if you want to see what the beach looks like.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Talking 'bout last night

Well, tonight is the final night here in the lap of luxury so I'll have to wrap up my experience so that tomorrow I can spend the entire post thanking god that I survived the flight and cab ride home.

Today was a glorious day. The weather was perfect and I was stuck in my room. Because it was the sabbath and I neither wanted to carry electronic keys nor ask someone to accompany me around, I stayed in my room and read Tom Clancy novels and the newspaper. And I made myself some sammiches. That kept me busy for most of the day so I didn't think of dreading the plane ride until just recently. Yay.

I also kept coughing all day. While I have stopped coughing up stuff tinged with blood, I still do wonder if there is something more serious that maybe I should get reviewed by a medical professional. I thought that the opportunity presented itself this evening when I saw 2 guys in scrubs wandering through the lobby. They walked in, past the desk and towards the elevators. They then walked back and tried to confirm the room number with the front desk. Turns out that they were in the wrong building. They didn't really speed off to wherever it was they were going so I have to wonder if maybe they weren't just really ugly strippers. I'm glad I didn't ask them to listen to my lungs.

While waiting and making small talk with the desk person, my friend and I did see what looked like 4 or five EMT type guys and some security people sprint through the lobby towards the elevator. This didn't seem to faze anyone else. When we asked the desk person what was going on, the response was "there are lots of activities here on a Saturday night." Maybe this was part of some scavenger hunt or something. Crazy people round here. Meanwhile, I have packed, called for the car to be ready in the morning and started to get really nervous. You know that feeling you get when the elevator starts going down -- that sort of floating weightless sense? I had that for 5-10 seconds today while lying in bed and my bed was not in the elevator. I blame Clancy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A spooky story about buying kugel

As the Shabbat approaches and we make our presentations I wanted to reflect on a strange experience I had this morning.

I woke up early (that's not really that strange) and got myself all together. I needed to walk to CVS to pick up some bad novels with which I will keep myself busy over Shabbat. I worked my way through the aisles and then took a quick jump into Kastner's. Kastner's, you see, is one of the local kosher food markets. I don't like it. There is very little room to move around and if a single person slows down, the entire place gets locked into a traffic pattern which reminds me of the Cross Bronx. The aisles aren't really wide enough for two people walking, let alone anyone who uses a cart, or anyone who wants to stop to look at an item.. The flow of the place is non-existent and it is always busy. It has no right to be busy -- the prices aren't all that great and people should demand more from their establishments. This same kind of illogic seems to pervade other establishments. Now, maybe this is because it is yeshiva week and there is an unexpected glut of consumers and the stores are designed for significantly less use but I find that still inexcusable. Yeshiva week is a known thing -- hire some extra counter staff. Have a plan of how people can move through your store. Do SOMETHING to show any forethought at all. Nope. Nothing. So I have been in thrice and hate it more each time.

But while I was in this morning, I saw someone -- someone I haven't seen in many years. An old colleague of mine who also taught when i was in high school. Now, sure, one runs in to all sorts of people when traveling, but this guy? i had heard, quite definitively, and 10 years ago, that he was dead. He looked at me with the same sort of semi-recognition because he also was confused; I figure he also had heard that he was dead because I know he didn't hear it about me.

So I stared a bit and figured -- the service is so bad at Kastner's that he is still waiting to pick up his food even though he has been dead for 10 years. Unless, of course, he is living the Twainian "rumors of my death" existence and everything anyone has told me about him has been wrong. I feel uncomfortable with that. Clearly the simplest course of action would have been to kill thus retroactively validating all that I had heard about his death him but I found myself both unprepared and reluctant to cast a pall on the rest of the day with the simple act of ghost-icide.

So instead I went to Dunkin Donuts and found a line all the way out the door because the counter people did not know how to handle actual demand for their product. I walked out, but walked back in once I realized that I could, at least, use their Wifi.

I think it safest, in terms of my interactions with the underworld, that I stay in my room for the balance of this trip, lest I discover that other ghosts of teachers past are roaming the hallways and kosher establishments.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I may not have a life, but this is THE life

Today was a fascinating mix, but none of it particularly bad. I have only a few observations this evening so I won't keep you too long and you can go back to watching reruns of 1980's soap operas.

I got up at a reasonably reasonable time and made my way down to the pool. It was too cold. So I went back up to my room to reconsider my options while I slept. The thing is, when I first felt the weather, it was hot and he wind was calm, so I made it down to the pool full of the excitement which comes from a morning swim sans company. By the time I got to the pool, the wind had kicked up and the sun had hidden itself behind a passing cloud. The temperature had dropped 15 degrees and I was expecting snow. As i left, I saw the sun peek out and the wind die down. I took this as a sign that I needed to sleep more.

I went to the other pols a bit later fully clothed and with no intention of swimming. I was flipping the bird at mother nature and she reciprocated by letting the sun blaze on my balding pate. So while she wasn't looking, I ran up to the room and got changed and came back down. I fooled her and got into the pool before she could realize my deception and whip up a hurricane. So I swam, and eventually jumped out amidst a flurry of towels and cuddled up in a lounge chair with a cup of fresh, hot coffee. I also had a chance to video chat with family in Israel. Think about that in terms of technological advances -- there I was in a lounge chair in Florida, video chatting with people in Israel. As a boy, I recall those once in a blue moon phone calls where we had to watch the clock and get everyone on the phone for a minimum conversation because the per minute charge would break the bank.

I also found that a touch of meclazine made the morning a bit more pleasant.

After the swim, I volunteered to take 3 children to whatever local place I could find for lunch. We wandered down the main drag and found a small cafe which had a 10 minute wait for a questionable menu. Instead we went across the street to the larger and more predictable pizza place. There, I asked for one of everything that was battered and fried, and ate it all. Fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, zucchini coins, fake crab cakes. All of it, delicious. I think that even the iced tea was fried. It was THAT good. I waddled back across the street to buy a black and white cookie and the kids and I worked our way back to the hotel.

I discovered that the wife wanted to make reservations at a lovely grill place. I was still burping up onion rings but who am I to stand in the way of progress. So a short nap later, the adults in our party worked our way back down the main strip to a fancy frill place where we polished off a bottle of wine and a bunch of food. A quick stop at Walgreens on the way back to start our shabbos shopping and then to the hotel for the evening's collapse.

So in sum, I ate too much, I got some sun and swim, and ate too much. Chalk it up in the win column.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another grueling day

Here is the summary of the day so that those of you on a tight schedule can get a full sense of my experience without investing extra precious minutes:
I felt sick and sat around. Then I ate Dunkin Donuts. The end.

The expanded version is not much more glamorous. After a night of coughing and intermittent breathing and sleeping I sort of awoke to find that the dizziness and nausea were back. At least that way, the coughing wasn't lonely so that's good. I spent some time hanging out by the pool as the wind whipped up at 15 miles per hour. So I didn't swim but got a real sense of what it would be to swim by living vicariously through some others.

I returned to the room to find that the wife had decided to go on a tour of fancy houses. The tour would require a bus trip to a boat trip. I considered this in light of my stomach's inability to reconcile my seemingly static position with the constant swaying of the world around me. I begged out so that I would not leave a DNA trail across Florida in the form of half digested breakfast food (Special-K and skim milk...really). While the others went on their little adventure, I walked around in a daze looking for a quiet and relatively not windy place to sit and grade papers. Eventually I found a tree enclosed set of tables and I went to work. Soon, I was bored. So I left. I found the stores for tourist junk and wandered through them trying to figure out why they have 40 pink hats but no dramamine. By the time I made it back to the room, the group had returned with short stories of seeing houses and riding on boats. Sounds positively riveting.

Dinner was a lot of reheated leftovers so I chose to take a walk and get a sense of what restaurants were out there. Let me be clear -- this place has LOTS of kosher restaurants. I mean lots. The wife and I must have looked into 10-12 places on the one main drag. Of course, with only 2 exceptions none of them had any room for anyone to go in, sit down and get a meal. They were all jam packed. And I don't mean jelly. We were encouraged to make reservations for tomorrow but it seems sort of wrong to have to make a reservation to get pizza or a bagel and cream cheese. Many of the places didn't even have take out menus so that we could sit around later on and reminisce about the places we couldn't get in to. Who are all these people who all decide to go out to eat exactly when I do? And is there really such a constant and sizable Jewish community that it can support so many places year round? Pizza, pasta, fish, grill, shwarma, bagels, chocolates. We also saw 2 kosher markets and 2 Judaica stores. Lots of places, all full. Except the places that were already closed at 6:30. It was crazy to see them all so full. I mean, I live in Teaneck, and we have a bunch of restaurants, but they never get quite so wild and overfull. The Dunkin Donuts decision was the only reasonable one to make. The line was short and the food is predictable. It is a pity that there was only 1 woman working the 2 counters (Youdelina. I kid you not) and she didn't seem happy about it.

Anyway, we stopped at Walgreens on the way back for some motion sickness pills and then back here. The weather is about 71 degrees and the wind isn't as violent as it was earlier in the day, and now I'm full.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nothing doing and doing nothing

Back from dinner after a Tuesday of non-stop stopping so I'll report in now. The main thing is that I am still coughing and this is making things like sleeping, waking and breathing difficult. I spent some time with my primary care internet and it told me that I have one of a few different things. Either I have bronchitis, asthma, smoker's cough or the common cold. The recommendation for all of them was the same -- pay for the premium service. I demurred.

When I got out of bed at about 6:30 this morning (not "woke up" as I hadn't really slept) I went outside and found a strong breeze and very cool morning air. I walked to the pool and found that the wind was not a freak weather occurrence right outside my room but was an issue there as well. So I came back to the room without a morning swim and tried to nap for a couple of hours. Fast forward a couple of hours and I made my way out again so I could sit by the pool as the children, who are dumb enough to swim with the wind whipping up, swam and I sort of hung out. It actually was a beautiful day to do nothing so i made sure to do a lot of that. And when I took a break from that, I went up to my room for a snack and some lying around doing nothing there. Very intense. It was sort of nice not to do anything and have nothing I felt like doing. Those all inclusive resorts with the horses and the dolphins and the classes where you learn to braid hair and play canasta with horses and dolphins make you feel like a lollygagger if you want to do nothing. Well, at this place, there is no arcade, no library and not on-site shuffle board so all there really is, is pool or nothing. I opted, repeatedly, for the latter.

For dinner we all got in cars and drove northward to a Grill place 10 miles away. Jam packed and overwhelming, it was. The appetizers were plentiful and satisfying which is convenient because the main courses were a bit less so. I appreciate what they were going for there, but it didn't live up to the hype that I heard from all sorts of people who swear that this is the best grill-type place around.

Tomorrow, I hope to find some time to procrastinate and sit around and watch the waves break. At least that's the plan. Who knows, I may just chuck it and spontaneously have a nap. Right now, I could go for some dental floss but I don't intend to exert myself.

My real subject is about conspicuous consumption. There is a lot here (but I don't mean the disease consumption, nor do I mean publicly over eating, though there is some of that). I don't even really mean the people walking around. Sure, many of them must have scads of money, or at least used to have it before choosing to stay here, but about the place itself. This hotel tries to be really fancy. I has no lobby to encourage riff-raff to malinger. It has no gift shop so the commoners can buy t-shirts with smarmy sayings or snow globes of exotic giftshops around the world. It has a computer in each suite, loads of armed towel boys who use their walkie talkies to get you your $15 dollar glass of orange juice, and stores built in which sell the kinds of things that give me an ache in my wallet when I simply walk past. But is it all necessary?

Is there any really, bottom line difference between a place like this and a Holiday Inn on a beach somewhere? Is a room at $700 a night substantially better than one for $150? Is the sewing kit that much more advanced? Do I gain anything by not having a video game arcade or an ice machine and vending machine on my floor? All I'm doing is sitting around a pool, soaking up the free sun and mediocre wifi. Do we really need to be seen rubbing elbows with the upper crust (mmmm...crusty elbow rubbings) in order to feel good about ourselves? I think not. And why do people worry about the baggage weight limits when they seem to have packed very few pieces of clothing, and small ones at that? Speaking of which -- sir, sir? You know who you are. I respect the effort but no one at your age looks good in a Speed-o and the pot belly isn't making your case any stronger.

I have to go unsee a few things.

Monday, January 21, 2013

We got the beach

I know I like to complain. I know that my complaining is not just my defining characteristic, but one of the few things that keeps people interested in my boring little life. So I know how important it is that I continue to find things to complain about. Therefore, I will begin today's entry with a complaint.

The breeze coming up from the south was a big strong for a few minutes this afternoon.

Yup. That's pretty much it. Sure, one child was being a bit standoffish and the other is a bit pouty at times, but if the weather stays 79 degrees and partially sunny and the pools don't disappear overnight, I'll be OK.

I must say, though, that I find it disconcerting here. It IS 80 degrees most every day. Don't these people know that it is January? Where are the winter coats? What about the shovels? Won't anybody think of the de-icer? I feel like I need seasons. i need the anticipation -- the smell of the chill in the air and the fire in the fireplace. The first buds of spring and the sense, in the earliest parts of the fall that a blizzard is right around the corner. That cold chilling rain balanced by the warm spring shower. Repeated spreading of salt mitigated by the memories of heat and humidity so oppressive that people have to squirt random strangers as they walk by to avoid having anyone spontaneously combust or stick to the sidewalk. Seasons.

But I was told that you get over that need rather quickly.

I woke up (after a night of some coughing and hacking and coughing) and sat out on the balcony for a few minutes fighting the urge to spit on the people hundreds of feet below. After that test of will I went with a child to the local pool. We met others there and had a nice morning swim. The water was warm, the sun hot and the towels plentiful. Color me impressed. And sunburnt. But mostly, impressed.

I came back upstairs as the children all went to find bigger pools elsewhere (interestingly, none of the pools is any deeper than 4 foot 9 at any point; well, I thought it was interesting). The wife woke up a bit later and we all confabed about the day. That amounted to going back out to the pools. And that was the general approach. For most everyone else, pool, rinse, repeat with some "ocean and sand" mixed in. For me it was "watch all of those other people while lying in the sun." Our host's family came over with pizza and that became lunch. Mediocre but present -- an important attribute to any pizza as mere existence takes a pizza's taste from a 0 to at least a 5. A trip to the bar with my dear friend for 2 double vodka shots and a beer amounted to a lot more money than I have space to type. It was practically criminal. Seriously -- how can anyone afford to be an alcoholic?

Evening activity was a walk to the local dinner hot spot, Dunkin Donuts. Nice to see that some foods are predictable and delicious, no matter where you are. The donut selection was very small (no chocolate of ANY sort) and the ice cream selection was very small (the only chocolate was some sort of bizarre cream cheese, chocolate, nut thing but eeeeeeyyyyuuuuuw) and this is in a store open 24 hours a day -- if it is this bad at 8pm, what are the choices for anyone who has a hankering at 4:35? But iced coffee and a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese hit the spot. It even allowed me to take in, and not react to, the guy with the basketball shorts, t-shirt, and black socks/slip in moccasins. We walked by by way of a Walgreens with a larger kosher selection than most small towns and came back for the evening's round of sibling rivalry ("she breathed my air", "well, she looked at my shadow"). There will be a reconoiter over to Publix (the grocery so nice, they can afford to misspell its name) to plan for Shabbos and then, no doubt, much more arguing amongst the children.

In an effort to keep you up to date with things I chose not to do (as per my earlier post about missing opportunities, I present these photos:

My child, refusing to spend time with me, or be photographed by me.

Vodka in the mini bar which I did not drink (thus saving myself, no doubt, one thousand dollars)

A pool I did not swim in

A cabana I neither reserved nor sat in

A kite I did not fly

Jetskis I did not rent

A helicopter I did not charter

An ocean I did not swim in

A picture I did not take

A sea gull I neither ate, nor taught the simple joy of flight

A parasail which I did not try

A hover-para-glide-ski-sail-mobile which I was even to afraid to ask about

A large ship which I did not try to flag down so I could get off this crazy island

I also have a picture of a beach which I did not walk along but this uploading procdess has taken me over an hour, and 2 computers plus a camera and phone. You'll have to imagine the pristine, white sands, unsullied by my footsteps.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Yakety Yak

I find myself at the end of a long and strange day. I woke up in one state and am going to sleep in another, and in between I entered a state of despair. Then I left it. I am on vacation. By the grace of a very good friend, I have been given access to a wonderful room in a hotel in Florida, the Shunsine state (they hate math here as much as I do). So I'm getting settled in and I'd like to recount what led me to this spot.

My last blog post was at 3:30 or so in the morning and, though I thought I had spent myself creatively writing it, I was still unable to sleep, so I found my way to Dunkin Donuts with the admonition from the wife that she would be sorely disappointed if I came back without a Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream. I showed up at the D+D at 4:35 only to find them closed until 5AM. That seemed rather capricious of them. Donuts are an all-the-time kind of food so I couldn't see what made 5AM special and invalidated 25 minutes earlier as a reasonable time to crave some coffee and sugar. But I also knew how important returning with Hot Chocolate was so I waited. In the car. In the empty parking lot. For 25 minutes (well, I did drive to another store for 3 minutes, only to find that it didn't open until 8AM. The nerve.

Dunkin Donuts opened up at the crack of 5:05 and I was right there, unsure of what to get. It took a few minutes but I decided on a bagel with tuna, a corn muffin and large unsweetened iced-tea. Yum. I scarfed that down, resigned to being awake for the day (and the previous night) got the Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream and returned home. We fast forward to the airport, 3 and a half hours later. In truth, it didn't feel like fast forward until the final 5 minutes before we left but you get the idea. At the airport we tried to figure out how to check bags and explain our ticket buying experience and generally, get everyone to like us. The kids were hyped up on adrenalin and the possibility of not seeing their parents for a few days, the wife was knee deep in crossword puzzles and I was starting to regret the whole breakfast at 5AM thing.

I get nerves. Lots and lots of nerves.

When our friend and host arrived, we worked our way through security, removing our shoes, jackets and dignity and placing them all in bins so that a machine could declare us uninteresting and then we wandered to the gate. We saw our plane. Unlike earlier trips, this one would be on a relatively smaller place. As our seats were towards the back, we waited to board. I do wonder why they didn't board from the back first but there must be some scientific reason for it, like inertia or chlorophyll. As we taxied all seemed fine. Our seats were B through D in a 3-aisle-3 configuration and I had one of the non-aisle seats. No problem, I figured...under a three hour trip. Big deal. Then we took off.

I have said it before and I will say it again -- flying is just flat out unnatural. But you know what, I can make peace with unnatural. I can even make peace with the ever-present fear that god might, for a laugh, cause some bolt to loosen or some errant wind to knock off an entire wing so that I, both unable to protect myself and, even worse, unable to either protect or soothe my children, feel a failure as I plummet to the ground...yes, I might be able to make peace with that if not for the debilitating nausea. I am still getting over these flu-like symptoms. That name is a lie because no one likes the flu, but I had such a round of nausea last Tuesday that I just wanted to curl up and vomit on myself for comfort. It was all the worst of a hangover without the regret (or at least, uncertainty about whom I had offended). This was worse. My cold sweat had cold sweat. Apparently, the 737 (or the "Short Bus of the Sky") is a touch more sensitive to, well, EVERYTHING so as we arose, the plane started to (and then continued to) buckle and shake wildly. The kids didn't seem to mind as they were unaware of both a capricious god, and my gift of an incredibly aware inner ear. So I was uber green while they giggled. The wife held my arm and tried to comfort me as I worked on the best way to push her aside and scramble over her body so I could relive Dunkin Donuts, starting with dessert first, if-you-know-what-I-mean. She used to be the one afraid of flying and now she has gotten used to it. I used to be the daredevil, and now, I retch when I have to make a k-turn while driving. She is my rock and I'm her roll. So for an important good note, I was surrounded by dear friend and loving and loved wife. Not the worst place to be when you are deathly nauseous because if anyone is going to laugh at my distress, I want it to be the people I care for.

When we finally leveled off (at 32,000 feet so the captain claimed, but who was really able to challenge him?) the bumpiness subsided enough for him to turn off the "hang on for dear life" sign and replace it with "stumble wildly around the cabin until I decide to turn the other sign back on and you have to run for your seat." It did NOT subside in my head and stomach. I guess I don't understand turbulence -- the air is clear, isn't it? I mean, if you want to claim turbulence when flying through clouds, well, then that makes sense. They are clouds, full of non-air and stuff. But if the air is clear, what's up with that. And I tried to convince myself that it was nothing more than a ride in a bus over a bumpy street except for 2 things -- the bus was a plane, 5+ miles in the air, and there was no street nor any bumps. I fought the urge to upchuck or make solemn vows to heaven about what I'd do if I lived through this until I mercifully fell asleep for 25 minutes about an hour later. When I awoke the flight did seem a bit more level. I listened to a bit of music, but every time I started really getting comfy, the bumpiness started again. I skipped lunch.

Our descent was similarly rife with turbulence. I tried to console myself by saying that, at least I knew when the ride would be over but as the shaking continued, my gut started ignoring logic and demanding visceral satisfaction. Fortunately, we landed when we did. I understand that I will have to fly one more time, in order to get back but let me say this -- as a message to myself if to no one else, NO MORE FLYING. Now, I admit that while we were over land and not knocking about, the flight was beautiful and the view was stunning. And if the entire flight had been like that, then that would have been great. But it wasn't. I am still pitching and yawing and queasy, hours later. Most uncool.

We deplaned, deplaned and walked half way across Florida to reclaim our luggage and find the rental car people. On the plus side, they set us up with a gorgeous car. On the negative side, our children will become spoiled thinking that we can afford cars with things like "airbags" and "brakes."

Did I mention that this ENTIRE time, I was coughing and hacking like a cat with a full set of hairballs? I even coughed up a few of those hairballs during the day. It was not my most glorious moment.

So to finish it off, I have gotten lost on the hotel grounds once so far, had my key demagnetized, found out how out of shape I am by trying to walk up 5 flights of stairs, and am still experiencing room-turbulence, only exacerbated by the violent elevators.

But the food for dinner is on its way, there is a football game to watch, the rooms and view are spectacular, and tomorrow is another day.

Read me, Seymour

I am beginning to think that blogging is inherently narcissistic. It isn't just that it invokes the vain belief and, I admit,  the occasional expectation that anyone wants to hear what I have to say but that it taps into a time honored tradition of narcissism within writing - the belief that the printed word can transcend death and achieve a measure of immortality.

I am fully familiar with the Woody Allen quote to the effect that he does not want to achieve immortality through his works but wants to through not dying.  Yes, sure.  But in the meanwhile, all this blather on the even virtual page is just so much thrashing and kicking in the hope that once I am gone there will be some part of me that lives on - that I  made a semi permanent mark on the fabrics of society and time and space.  And that belief is the heart of narcissism, the sense that I have found some way to overcome what should doom us all as the great equalizer/fertilizer.

And if I spend all my free time crafting an online identity or three and fighting against the tide of ignorance creeping around the corner in the Internet this is only secondarily because stupidity is a personal affront to me.  Primarily it is a chance for me to lay down more roots to validate and extend my existence beyond this fragile and ultimately transient shell.  So when something gloriously tragic,  romantically violent (and,  I hope, miraculously painless) sweeps me off my living feet in, say, 75 years,  and the myth makers on the left coast decided to find out what made me tique (yes,  I am being that pompous) there will be threads galore online which they can use to weave the fiction that was my life. Ah,  narcissism.

All this on my phone,  at 3:45 in the morning when I have to be up in 3 hours.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Looking forward to missing out

We are going on vacation next week. Let me repeat that for those of you in the cheap seats: We are actually getting things together and spending money to go be elsewhere for a few days.

I know that your first reaction is "Yay! That means daily blog updates on the trials and tribulations of surviving in another zip code." And your second is "This means the amnesia necessary to go on vacation again has kicked in." Yes, you'd be right on both counts but here's the big thing.

I am looking forward to it.

Well. Some of it. I am not looking forward to the plane ride. I love airports and I like the idea of flying, but flying, itself, is unnatural and possibly, sinful. And scary. It's not that I'm afraid of heights per se, but that I don't relish the thought of falling from them. And hurtling through the air at 500+ miles per hour, suspended by collective prayer and something called "physics" (is that even a word?), susceptible to the slightest divine whim is not my idea of a good time. For the record, my idea of a good time involves being on earth, surrounded by scantily clad chocolate cake, listening to good music and having many, many people say, in unison, " are right" while massaging my toes.

But I am looking forward to the plentiful memories of what didn't happen on this trip. Missed opportunities abound and I, for one, am excited at the prospect of not doing things and not meeting famous people. I have heard there is a pool, so I can choose not to swim. There are parks, so I can have someplace to avoid going to. And the food! The chances I will have to deprive myself stagger the imagination.

I can only imagine what might be, if only I choose to be the slightest bit social or adventurous. I will be able to come back bemoaning all the potential outcomes that were there, waiting for me and in whose face I shut the door! I will make albums of the how incredible my life might finally have the shot at being if only.

Ahhh, my favorite words..."if only."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Drum Rolls of Fat

I know I should work out. You know it. The Carthaginians know it. But the thing is, I don't want to. It is famously boring. You drive to the gym for the privilege of walking in place. Then you drive home. Does that make any sense at all? Or maybe you go to a class to have someone in better shape than you earn money by telling you to move. Gosh, I'd move for free if I ended up somewhere else, like a Dunkin Donuts. So anyway, exercise is dumb. That's a true fact.

But I know I should work out. I get winded booting up the computer, and my caloric intake has to be written in scientific notation. I'm a prime candidate for a headstone that says "Come on...was this really a surprise?"

So what's a lazy guy to do? I think I have it. I do have a passion -- music. I like to play music. During my life, I have taken lessons and I am pretty decent at a couple of instruments, but no one ever got thin playing the recorder. I do know that when I used to play drums, I could play for hours, work up a good sweat and still not eat everything that wasn't nailed down. And now, as an old man, I still have the itch to play, but who has the facilities in a house? Expensive drums, a nice stereo, a soundproofed sub-basement, back-up singers. The basics. So I have a plan.

I am going to be a rock god.

No that's not it.

I am going to start a gym which is a series of soundproofed cubicles. In each, there is an instrument (though I don't know how anyone can get thin playing bass). You suit up -- wearing ankle and wrist weights, and you play. The music is loud and private and you get a heckuva work out. True, I don't know if this would work for anything besides drums, but who cares about the rest of you. I don't recall starting this post saying YOU need to work out. All I need is a snappy title like "Musical slimitude" or "Rock and Tone up" or something like that. You get the idea. So that's my idea.

Meanwhile, all this typing has made me hungry.