Sunday, August 31, 2008

More Wisdom.

"Look, if you make a bed out of cats, you're going to end up with a few dead cats."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

While I was out.

Near the end of my senior year of high school my mother informed me that I would have my wisdom teeth removed from my head. This did not seem like the best graduation gift I’d ever heard of, but I wasn’t too concerned. I grew up in a house full of doctors where it was not uncommon to discuss procedures over dinner. (The story about the patient who cut his knee cap off with a chainsaw was especially memorable on brisket night.) So I wasn’t too worried about going under the knife for something routine.

I got dropped off at the oral surgeon’s office in a pink stucco strip mall not too far from my parent’s house. The interior theme matched the exterior paint, pink hued seashells lined the wall paper and some fake white orchids rested in a large vase on the counter. After filling out all of the tedious medical releases and reassuring the nurse that I had no allergies, the surgeon came in to speak with me. He placed a large plastic cloth over my chest and asked me if I was scared about the impending procedure.

I told him that I was not, but that I did have a request. It seemed like a pretty obvious request to me. Certainly most other people who had their wisdom teeth removed asked for the same thing. I faced the surgeon and said, “I would like to keep my teeth when you are done.” And to his credit, the surgeon didn’t ask why or even blink; he just nodded and called the nurse in to prep me for surgery.

I laid back in the chair as it tilted to horizontal and the nurse placed the cold rubbery mask over my mouth and nose. I could barely hear her voice over the hiss of gas while she asked me to count backwards from ten. The anesthesia must have been quite effective, or the nurse must have found a vein especially quickly because I didn’t make it past nine before everything went to black.

I awoke sitting in a chair by myself. It might have been hours later, I had no way to tell. My cheeks were stuffed with gauze and my chin was lightly crusted with dried blood. I didn’t know where I was or who had left me in the chair, but after looking around the room I knew one thing for sure, that surgeon had lied to me! My teeth were nowhere in sight.

So naturally, I got up to search for the surgeon’s hidden stash of post-operative wisdom teeth. I wasn’t so na├»ve as to think that he kept them in a pile under a pillow somewhere, but I figured that the medical staff had simply forgotten my special request and I wanted to make sure to find the teeth before they were lost.

I dragged my heavy limbs out of the chair and made my way out the door and down the hall in search of my promised teeth. I walked down the empty hallway until I came across a small window inset in a door. I pressed my bloody swollen face to the window and tried to focus my eyes. Inside I could see several people in scrubs surrounding a table. Obviously this was the surgeon who had my teeth. So I politely inquired through the glass if I could have my teeth back. However, as I was still coming out from under the anesthesia and my mouth was stuffed with gauze this came out more like, “TEEEEEEEFF!”

One of the nurses looked up from the surgery table and quickly rushed over to the door. She pried me away from the window and escorted me back down to my chair. I tried again to eloquently express my desire for my missing teeth. “TEEEEEEFF!” Apparently she was well versed in the inane cries of the recently detoothed, because she knew exactly what I meant and broke the bad news to me. It turns out that the removal of wisdom teeth is a fairly violent procedure that involves cracking and splitting the teeth. All that was left were small shards of enamel and dentin. I later learned that the surgeon assumed I was joking when I asked to keep my teeth. He figured that I was nervous and trying to make light of the situation.

I was disappointed and over the next few days while I recovered from the surgery I consoled myself by researching local taxidermy and medical supply shops. I would someday have my necklace of teeth, it just might take a little bit longer than I realized.

A World Apart.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that I'm one of the only people in the world that accidentally mixes in Kosraen words with Arabic. The look on my teacher's face when I drop words like 'fasr' and 'mutacn' in the middle of my Arabic class is priceless.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rat Bastards.

During my junior year of college I moved into a five bedroom house with four of my friends. It wasn’t too far from the campus and the rent was relatively low for a small central coast college town.

The house itself was in decent shape considering that it had been rented to a rotating cast of college kids over the years. The paint was peeling and the windows needed a wash, but the house itself was fine. The management agency made a very smart move at some point and replaced the grass in the front yard with gravel. While sweeping out my room I found an unopened bottle of Miller High Life behind a vent, a leftover hidden treasure from some long ago party.

It wasn’t long after we moved in that we realized the house came with more than hidden beer and a gravel filled yard. We had rats. A full family of rats.

At first we tried to deal with this problem exactly as you might imagine a house full of 20 year olds might deal with it. We tried to ignore it. Getting rid of rats seemed like way too much effort to deal with. Someone would probably have to call the landlord or an exterminator or buy traps or something like that. Clearly, we were all much too busy to be bothered. The rats would probably just get bored and leave after a while anyway.

Of course this was not true and the rat problem just got worse. My bed was pushed up against a wall that divided my room from the kitchen. At night I could hear the rats running around inside the wall. As I lay in bed trying to sleep, I could hear them gnawing and scratching in the wall just inches from my head. Did this prompt me to call the exterminator? No, my solution instead; I would walk into the kitchen and turn on the dishwasher. This would muffle the noise of the rats and allow me to fall asleep.

One night my roommate Joe woke up when a rat ran across his stomach. He was furious and swore to take care of the rat problem the very next night. So the next evening we all went off to bed while Joe took a seat in the dark kitchen. He sipped on a Mountain Dew and kept his air rifle slung over his shoulder. I woke at 3am to high pitched yelling from the kitchen. Joe was standing on the chair clutching his rifle, a half a bottle of Mountain Dew spilled on the floor. I never got the full story from Joe that night, he just kept shouting, “Those fuckers are fast!”

I moved out of the house shortly after that. The rats kept getting worse and the roommates were starting to ask questions about why the dishwasher was always running at night. (The guy who replaced me moved in and promptly hung up an American flag on one wall and bull horns on the other. He moved out a month later when he dropped out of college and took a job with a logging company in Humboldt County.)

I heard later that the guys put out poison for the rats, and it worked. Unfortunately after the rats ate the poison, they didn’t die until they crawled back into their nests in the walls. The house was free of living rats, but it stank of decomposing rat bodies for most of the winter.
Of course by then I was long gone.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Hey you!
Yeah you, the lady in the cross walk while the light is red.
Can't you seen the sign that says 'Don't Walk'?
Then why are you walking?
I don't care what kind of a hurry you're in, when the sign says 'Don't Walk' that means don't fucking walk.
Do you want me to arrest your ass?
Good, cause I don't feel like filling out the paperwork.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It took a while.

I miss the rain. I miss the sky-darkening, roof clattering rain storms that would roll in off the ocean so quickly that I could watch the ripples on the water racing towards me.

I miss the way the rain would fall so heavy on the sheet metal roof that it would drown out all possible conversation. All that was left to do was listen to the sound of the storm and wait for it to pass.

I even miss the times I would get caught in a storm while on my bike. The warm raindrops would get whipped by the gusts so hard that they would sting my arms and legs. Small muddy rivers would form on the road, run-off from the mountain. I would have to pay extra attention to the coconuts that came thudding down. As miserable as I would be later in the day sitting damp at my desk, at least during the rain I was guaranteed a few minutes of completely dog-free bicycling.

I miss the moments after the rain too. Not the inevitable humidity or the way steam would rise from the street the moment the sun came out, but the aftermath of the storm. The palm leaves and coconuts that crashed down. I miss seeing the banana trees on the ground that finally gave way to the combination of heavy fruit and high winds.

I miss the rain during church. The clatter on the roof would drown out the mindless droning of the Pastor. If I happened to be sitting near the windows, I would get a light sprinkling on my arms when the wind changed direction. It was always such a nice relief from the stifling heat, my shirt stuck to my back with sweat.

I miss swimming in the ocean next to the causeway when the rain would come in. The fat drops would splash against the water so hard it would get in my eyes. We’d have to hide under the concrete of the pier, shivering in the cold wind and warm water. There was no point in trying to get out before the storm ended, it’s not like we could get any wetter. I would just have to stand there, chest deep in the warm salty water, hoping that my backpack was still waterproof enough to keep my CD player dry.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Right Color for Summer.

If you look at the name of the store in the window behind the mailboxes you can see that it is in fact a Benjamin Moore Paint Store.

Oh New York, even your petty vandalism is stylish.

Friday, August 15, 2008


My boss's office always smells like cookies, which is great because I like cookies but it's also awful because all I can think about when I'm in there is how much I want a cookie.

The Worst.

Everyday on the way to the Metro I have to pass by a group of trees that is home to hundreds of birds. The trees (and birds) cover both side of the street; there is no way to avoid it.
The sheer volume of bird shit produced by this flock has me concerned for their general health. The street and sidewalk is completely covered in a thick layer of crusty white and black droppings. A good 50 yards before and after I reach the trees, the smell of a poorly ventilated pet shop hits me. I’ve taken to crossing under the trees at a quick jog to insure that I am not hit by anything while underneath.
This car had been parked under the trees for only 24 hours when I took this picture.
It is by far the worst part of my commute.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

There's so much I don't know.

Overheard on 8th street near the Marine Barracks:

Woman: "Look at you, you’re almost 29 years old and look at yourself. You’re nothing. You’re not a man at all. What would your mother think of you? What would your grandmother think of you? You’re nothing."

Man: "You think you know a thing about me? You wouldn’t last a day on the streets without me. You don’t even know how to sell drugs."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Salute your Disregard.

While visiting New York City over the weekend I stayed a night at my friend’s place in the East Village. (And when I say I stayed there, what I really mean is that we played Rock Band, then I passed out on the couch, and then we played more Rock Band in the morning.)
It’s a great apartment in a really fun part of town, but every time I stay over I marvel at his refrigerator. I mean, I don’t really like to cook either, but his fridge is amazing. He and a roommate have managed to fill their fridge with nothing but wine and some leftover take-out.
When I mentioned the contents of his fridge to him, I got this response, “Oh, the wine is my roommate’s.”

By the Pound.

I ate at a barbecue place in Brooklyn over the weekend with my sister and two friends. Between the four of us we ate four pounds of meat and drank a gallon of beer. I know this because the beer came in a one gallon jug and the meat was weighed out on a scale before it was placed on our huge metal trays. Fuck the metric system!
We got a table outside next to two guys who had been drinking whiskey with their beers for quite a while. They had a mysterious clear glass bottle with an eyedropper. They would periodically squirt a few drops of the clear liquid into their whiskey.
Naturally I was eavesdropping on their conversation and I must say they were dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. I heard this gem from the less hip of the two (and mind you we were in Williamsburg, so it’s all relative) “I just can’t seem to get my hands around this monkey, you know?”
It must have been a big monkey.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Never has it been so hard to resist the urge to buy a giant piece of poorly painted concrete in the shape of a squirrel.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Transit Dance

I suppose that when you ride the Metro at two in the morning on a Saturday night, you should expect to see strange goings on, but I was wholly unprepared for what I witnessed last weekend.
On the orange line, just past L’Enfant Plaza I watched as two young guys did their very best to seduce their female companion with what appeared to be a dance off. A sexy dance off, on a moving metro train.
At first things started off slow, and by slow I mean like slow-jams grinding on your lap slow. The girl was sitting in the front of the train and the two guys took turns giving her lap dances. Then, one of the guys, presumably overwhelmed with lust/drunkenness/showmanship, proceeded to take of his shirt in what seemed like a very practiced manner. Amateurs they were not.
For the next five to eight minutes the guys took turns showcasing their dance skills. It might not have been the fanciest footwork or jazz hands I’ve ever seen, but what they lacked in coordination they more than made up for in sheer I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening late night brilliance.
And what was the big ending to this public transit mobile dance catastrophe? As I am an ardent fan of America’s Best Dance Crew, I should have known what to expect. Both guys, shirtless and shirted, joined together for a grand finale synchronized routine that involved stomping, jumping and such an awe-inspiring amount of ass shaking that on my walk home all I could think about was just how many hours these two must have spent practicing their moves before finally debuting it on the orange line for an audience of one very lucky lady and eight tired, drunk strangers.