Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Hideous, Terrible Beauty

Art speaks to people, but it doesn't always speak to everyone. When you see something you like, though, it calls out to you. It strikes a chord somewhere, and you feel like you have to have it. You may not be able to explain why, or even want to, but you just know that some things are meant to be together, like peanut butter and chocolate or me and the hideous, terrible clock that I bought today:

orange clock

Yes, I own that now, and am proudly displaying it on top of a bookcase in front of the window.

It's a little over a foot tall, roughly the size of a box of breakfast cereal. It's molded of hard orange resin, some sort of plastic, and the mold was filled with decorative gravel before they poured the plastic in. Also, it weighs a ton. As a rough guess, it feels about the same as three or four bricks taped together. I can't find a manufacturer's stamp on it anywhere, and have no idea how old it is, but it feels kind of 70's to me. Someday, if I have a fireplace and mantel, I will put this clock upon it, and be happy.

You're probably wondering how this happened.

This morning, Kristin and I decided that we would hit the flea market before grabbing lunch and heading up to the ICU for visiting hours. I haven't been to the flea market since 2008, although I've driven past a number of times, and I was really disappointed. There were hardly any booths, possibly because of the rain, and the things for sale looked even worse than usual. It was more depressing than interesting:

domestic artifacts

and Kristin wanted to leave before we even got halfway through. I was ok with that, as the comic book dealer that was there last time was now gone. In an effort to salvage some of our morning, though, I suggested we go swing by Nostalgia, a store that Elizabeth said we would like.

Elizabeth was right.

They had shelves and shelves of vintage, antique, and not quite either objects:

inside nostalgia

dishes and glassware

nautical theme

typewriter keys

the last paint-by-number supper

We stayed for about two hours, looking at the good, the bad, the odd:

fuzzy maries

the really odd:

red owl

and in the case of my clock, the strangely endearing. They had a clear one in one booth and the orange one in another, and as soon as I saw it I had to have it. Thank God it was cheap. Kristin agreed that I should buy it if I wanted it even though it is hideous, but she really has no room to talk.

She has this on hold:

flamenco lamp

I'm assuming it speaks to her, but in comparing it to my clock, well, I just don't see it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thursday Night Mini-Adventure

Last night, Kristin and I decided we needed to get out of town for a couple hours to escape work and blow off steam before we went to the hospital for ICU visiting hours, which are oddly scheduled from 9 to 10 PM. I drove over to meet her at her car, but she was running late, so I walked around the parking garage for a few minutes, taking random photos:

blue light

cable railing


I really like this one, part of my ongoing black and white project:

parking garage lights

After Kristin got there, we headed out to Pigeon Forge, so that she could pick up a gift certificate for the indoor skydiving place for someone's birthday. I have no interest in indoor skydiving, but there was a love machine in the lobby that seemed kind of interested in me:

sexy light

Sexy, you say? Me? Hmmmm... maybe I won't die alone (in the rain, as I've always suspected that I will) after all.

After we picked up the gift certificate, Kristin decided we should stop at Mel's Diner for dinner. They have a pretty extensive menu for a vintage, tiny sized aluminum trailer-style diner, with many of the dishes named after famous people:

bette, sans joan

Once I saw the Bette Davis BLT, I was compelled by the knowledge of their legendary Hollywood feud to check the rest of the menu for a Joan Crawford dish, and discovered that there isn't one. No penne in vodka sauce or viciously slapped chicken, but the diner did serve Pepsi Cola, so maybe this particular matchup is a tie.

Or maybe somewhere up in movie heaven, Bette is enjoying a good, cigarette-raspy chuckle, especially after Kristin ordered her BLT.

Lacking a Joan dish, I instead ordered the fried bologna and cheese sandwich, with mustard:

fried bologna and cheese sandwich

and fries. It was crispy and melty and really, really good, and then, on the way home, this happened:

kristin, with gorilla

No matter how sad or tired or stressed I am, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg always find a way to make me smile.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A few things I've learned this week

My friend Bryan, who goes on random adventures with me and is frequently mentioned here, has been in the hospital for nine days. He is very, very sick and I am very worried. Several of us have been going to the hospital each day, but none of us every day. I myself have only made it seven out of nine days, but am trying to do better. Given the time of year that it is, though, this basically means that the last week for me has been "Work, Hospital, Sleep" and very little else.

I've managed to learn a few interesting things along the way, though.

1) Hospital food really is disgusting, and that's not just a punchline. The other night the staff made a mistake and brought an apple cobbler that Bryan wasn't allowed to have, and he and the nurse both insisted that I eat it rather than just letting the nurse throw it away.

They really did. This wasn't one of the deals where I stared longingly at it and mentioned how hungry I was.

No, really.

I wasn't even looking at it, and the nurse was like, "Bryan, you're not allowed to have that. I'm gonna throw it away. Wait, do you want it?"

I should have said no. Why?

firm apple cobbler

That's me, holding the apple cobbler perpendicular to the floor, and that's the apple cobbler, not moving. Even more frightening is that it's the second photo. I held it up long enough to take a picture, check the camera while still holding the cobbler up and decide that I didn't like the first one, and then take a second picture.

Not only was it immobile, but it tasted like pure flour. I have no idea how they did it, but I even fished an apple out with my fork and tasted it by itself, and the apple tasted like flour. It was disgusting, but I was hungry, so I ate the whole thing anyway.

2) There's always something worse that could happen:

that sucks

As tired and cranky as I may be, at least I didn't leave some of my groceries in the cart and then drive away, like some people.

3) The hole in the side of the music building never stops looking absurd, no matter how many times you drive past it:

hole (1)

It looks like the Tasmanian Devil exploded through the side of the wall. They're demolishing the music building right now, so that they can build a bigger, better one, but it looks like they took one swipe at the wall and then called it a day:

hole (2)

4) Spelling is hard.


On the one hand, I'm kind of giggly snickering and "Oh, hey, ICU Waiting Room, dictionaries are also available," but on the other hand I'm kind of wondering if I would entrust my medical care to people who can't spell. You read stories about hospitals amputating the wrong limbs or leaving forceps inside surgical patients and wonder how it happens, but the writing is, literally, on the wall: some people are not only ignorant, but are also willing to post their ignorance where everyone can see it.

I kind of think I'll stick to the other hospital nearby instead. They may have thought that I was a wife beater, but at least they spelled it correctly.

5) These exist:

coconut M&M's

Am I the only one who didn't know about Coconut M&M's? I saw them at the hospital gift shop and decided that I needed to try them:

coconut M&M colors

They taste like little tiny nuggets of Mounds bars. I don't see any actual coconut in them when I bite them in half, but they are really, really strongly coconut flavored.

That's it for now. Bryan starts a new treatment tomorrow, so if anybody has any spare prayers around that they're not using, please offer them to the diety/dieties of your choice. Or just wish him positive energy and good karma, or whatever else you think might work.

Thanks, in advance.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Heterosexist Saturday at the ER

"I think I need to go to the emergency room. Can you drive me?"

It's odd how often I tend to get these calls. I don't know how it is for everyone else, but I tend to accompany someone to the emergency room every few years. I go for myself much less often, as the image that springs to mind when I think of the doctor's office is something like this:

the nurse's office

I'm terrified of doctors, the byproduct of a childhood spent in surgery. While I have no problem self-diagnosing based on things on the internet ("I have a headache. I hope it's not encephalitis.") I have to be convinced that I am near death, or actually have to have blood shooting out of me, for me to voluntarily go to the hospital. I fully understand that while they claim to be helping me, all doctors everywhere are actually just waiting for the moment when they can knock me unconscious so that they can harvest my organs or perform medical experiments on me.

Or, worse, they're waiting to do it while I am still awake.

I have no problem driving other people, though, which I did today:

the emergency room

I have noticed, though, that there are definite differences between the way that medical staff relate to you when you drive a male friend and the way they relate to you when you drive a female friend. Male friends, in my experience, have other friends, and it is perfectly natural for their friends to give them a ride. Female friends, on the other hand, are only given rides by husbands and boyfriends. Don't believe me? Let me offer two examples from today's adventure:

My friend needed a ride today because she fell on some pavement last night, scraping her face and landing badly on her wrist. We weren't sure if both her wrist and her thumb were injured, but her thumb was twice as big as the other thumb and refused to bend, strongly suggesting that she needed medical attention. I brought along a book, as these visits are rarely short, and waited for the nurse to call her. When she did, I asked, "You want me to come with you?"

"Sure," my friend answered, to which the nurse immediately added, "He doesn't have to, you know."

OK, nurse? I know I just brought in a female whose face is all banged up and who can't move her swollen hand, but really? Shouldn't you at least have security around before you start provoking me and accusing me of domestic abuse? The nurse confirmed that she hadn't really thought this all the way through when she followed up that comment with this question in the intake room:

"Has... SOMEONE," she began, looking pointedly at me with the kind of subtle facial acting that's made Telemundo infamous, "been hitting you?"

"Yeah, the pavement," my friend answered while I rolled my eyes.

"I wasn't even there," I added. "All I did was drive her here."

As bad as the nurse was, though, the doctor was even more insulting and heterosexually biased. When he walked into the exam room, which was apparently designed for children:

height chart

he looked at my friend sitting on the paper-sheeted bed and me reading a book in the side chair and asked, "What are you reading, while your wife sits here in pain?"

"Oh, she's not my wife," I answered, holding up my book. "I have nothing to do with this mess other than driving the car."

But really, there it is, everybody. In the eyes of the medical profession, men have friends, and women have husbands.

And, also, my friend has a broken thumb:


And that was my Saturday.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My Weekend with Superboy

One of my friends, who will remain nameless, decided to confront me this week with her worry over the fact that I allegedly "spend every weekend alone". When I casually argued that this is not true, she went on to inform me that no, it really is, and that I also "kind of hate people".

OK, for the record, I do not hate people. I like working with people, but the problem is that I spend all day, every day, interacting with people in person, on the phone, and over email, often at the same time. Because of that, I often need at least part of my weekend to just decompress, and exhale, and not have to talk to anyone. That way I'm all recharged by the time the weekend is over and I have to go work with people again. I tried to explain this to my friend, and got the response that "it's not healthy to do that."

"But it is! I'm an introvert!" I totally am. A number of reliable sources on Facebook said so.

"I don't think you are. I'm just telling you this because..." (insert weighty sigh here) "I'm worried about you. It's not good for you to be so alone."

"I'm not alone. You just think 'alone' means 'lonely', and I'm not lonely."

"I'm just really worried about you."

I kind of stewed over this all week. I understand the concern, but I also don't need an intervention. In the end, I decided that the best thing to do would be to not spend the weekend alone, so I looked around and decided to spend it with the first man I saw:


I spent my weekend with Superboy, and oh, what a time we had.

Our weekend together started with breakfast:

super breakfast

Superboy didn't really eat, but I enjoyed a delicious bowl of generic Kroger brand "Life" cereal. After that, I showered alone so that Superboy's paint wouldn't wash off, and then we headed out to pick up some groceries:

superboy goes to kroger

I didn't want my friend worrying that I spent the whole weekend locked up in my apartment with Superboy, though, so I decided to show him the town, starting with lunch:

superboy, with coke

It's hard to read the logo on the glass of Coke, but I had a nice late lunch at the S&W Grand, a nice historical restaurant downtown by the movie theatre. It was a cafeteria for many years, then closed in the 1980's. The building sat vacant and crumbling until being renovated in our new urban boom, and reopened last year as an upscale restaurant. This was my first time eating there, and it was delicious.

For a starter, we had homemade potato chips with blue cheese fondue:

homemade chips

and then I had the Italian four cheese pasta bake with Mornay sauce and parmesan crust:

4 cheese pasta bake

I was so full that I didn't have dessert, and I certainly didn't get on the S&W's historic vintage scale:

scale and plaque

Instead, we felt like walking around for a while and taking in the sights:

window shopping

engine #1

I even took Superboy past the graffiti boards on Wall Avenue:

superboy at the wall

to see if there was anything new painted:


Lunch out was just the prelude to the day's real excitement, though, which was roller derby. The last home bout I went to was the one at the World's Fair Park when the sprinklers exploded, so this was my first one at the Civic Coliseum even thought it was the second one there. I have to say, derby suddenly feels legit:

derby warm up

There are bleachers instead of folding chairs, a scoreboard that's not projected onto the wall from a laptop, and a huge flag:

flag spotlight

that they spotlight during the National Anthem:

guitar solo

On the one hand, I like the changes, but on the other hand the team seems so far away now:

pack huddle

They still knock people down, though:

a spill on the track

so it can't be all bad. We won both bouts, and had a great time watching:

Superboy goes to derby

We also saw a rather familiar halftime show:

halftime show (1)

Yes, Vinyl Michael Jackson and Lisa Turtle stopped by, and they're still dancing to "Thriller":

halftime show (2)

It did seem a lot better here than it did at the Smokie's game, but that might just be because they weren't dancing on grass this time.

After derby, we headed downtown to meet a few people at Patrick Sullivan's:

patrick sullivan's steakhouse and saloon

where someone who wasn't me (because I was driving) had a Red Stripe:

superboy with red stripe

This morning I decided that the weekend still wasn't over, so Superboy and I headed to the university gardens:

superboy at the gardens

and walked around for a while. I saw another one of those black butterflies that I saw last week, and was able to get closer this time:

big black butterfly, again

I like the gardens because it's quiet if you go early in the morning and there aren't many people there, and it's pretty:

rusty pump and truck


small butterfly

butterfly and daisy

After that, Superboy and I decided to catch up on a little work at the office:

superboy at the office

and then I decided that yeah, that was enough weekend for me and Superboy. My friend should be a lot less worried now that she knows I didn't spend the weekend alone, but instead spent it with an action figure.

There's totally no need to worry.