As the Whirled Turns

I am posdef a cat that is in horror of its trip to the vet, in horror of the very prospect of the veterinary. Nonetheless, on Wednesday it was my turn to keep an appointment made some six months earlier. Odin’s day indeed… But I shoved myself, squalling, into the cat-carrier and went.

For once I was running on time rather than early. The office tries to keep the patient density to a minimum so I was promptly escorted to an examining room where a nurse of some sort began with the basics, including the seasonal, senior citizen sized flue shot. The doctor was running late that day, however, so as the nurse was leaving, she asked if I’d like a bottle of water.

No thank you, I replied. I’m a geezer, after all, and we’re as bad as dogs when it comes to watering trees. I’m fine.

In truth, there was nothing particularly gruesome about this visit. It was not so much an examination as a negotiation: What medications would I continue, resume or cease taking? What diagnostic screening tests would I schedule? The doctor and I do not exactly have a unity of purpose. He wants to cure whatever ails me and whatever might someday ail me and whatever might be ailing me without my knowing that it ails me while I would simply prefer not to ail. Interventions that would have seemed perfectly sensible just a few decades ago now seem like maybe an unnecessarily speculative use of time and comfort and … money. But we came to something of an agreement and, on my way out, please stop at the lab for The Drawing of the Blood.

The lab has its own small waiting room though I was the lone patient waiting patiently (how else?) but not long. The phlebotomist, unfortunately, was having an off day so it was a bruising experience. But I got through it and the lab got its blood. And I refrained from making stupid vampire jokes.

My next stop was the immediate care clinic. No, not about the phlebotomist but for my fourth covid vaccination, this one of the new bivalent variety. The generic health care professional administering the vaccine used my right shoulder as my left was already preoccupied by that extra-strength flue shot. The generic health care professional was a delightful nerd, however, and we got to talking about vaccine dosage volumes and such.

But all good things must pass, it seems, and so I headed on home where, despite a cheerful voice mail from the pharmacy about my prescriptions being ready to be picked up, I decided I’d rather have soup: cream of tomato with sautéed onions, maize corns, carrots and potato dumplings… Not all from scratch; I’m not that good a cook nor that industrious. But it turned out well and that was good.

It was not especially cold outside yet I was chilled. The apartment didn’t help matters as management had yet to fire up the furnace.

With the two vaccinations, I was in fact mildly ill for the next 30 hours or so, not so much sick as simply unwell or maybe under the weather or perhaps an aching malaise. It was a fine occasion for a long hot bath and a somewhat early to bed.

Despite that, I did pick up the prescriptions the next day. The one mile walk to the pharmacy was done in slo-mo, it seemed… and sad, sad Touhy Park where now the homeless gather in larger numbers each year it seems and now the Park District has closed its field house there.

It seems entirely plausible that I might join them on that lawn where old man Touhy once had his manor, if not sooner from a World War III catastrophe or a flood of storm refugees then later as the good doctor continues to cure whatever it is that ails me.

“Men in Blues”

The pacing may have been off a bit, but that comes with the territory when just about every alien in the Hollywood movie universe is (are?) after the Blues Brothers. Because I think it is important that we smile in the rising gloom, may I present to you another video mash-up by Fabrice Mathieu.

I remember Blues Brothers being filmed in Chicago. On one of the filming dates, I was on my bike to Chicago’s south side to get a haircut. It was the last haircut I ever got.

Ou La La!

Photo by Roman.

This is another panel from the 2022 Artists of the Wall. This one, I believe, was completed after the event as I do not at all remember seeing it when I took photos there a week after. There are usually a few panels that get completed in the weeks after, but then, befuddled by fumes of THC as I often am, how can I say for sure if this is one of them?

“Ou la la” could be an appropriate title. “La la,” I have read, is something one might say over spilt milk:

It is a dark and stormy night. The rain comes gushing down: A multitude of splats becomes a roar, the air a thousand concussions. A cold wind descends from heaven. Outside flickers with a sick florescent sky. Inside humidity makes the jar slick when returned to the fridge. It slips. It falls. It breaks in pieces: a half pound of coffee.

Oh! la la…

Thus back in the imaginary days of the Moulin Rouge, “ou la la” accompanied the choreographed display of chorus-girls’ underwear as an expression of mass mock dismay over a collective wardrobe malfunction.

Of course, that may all be so much horse feathers as “la la” is not exclusively dismay…

Bookmarks Found

Folks who do most of their reading from libraries and used book stores sometimes find bookmarks abandoned or at least forgotten: scraps of paper, business cards, letters, money (rare!) and really anything reasonably flat. It occurred to me that I have a modest collection of these around the apartment.

One is rather odd because I have no cultural referents with which to interpret it. The bookmark is just strange:

bookmark
bookmark

I’m pretty sure that’s mylar not gold leaf but it’s the thought that counts, right?

There’s another that implies a story:

ticket

This is an unused ticket to a championship boxing match in 2011, specifically between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley, Pacquiao being the defending champion. Note the price of the ticket ($300) and the fact that it was unused. The back of the ticket has the usual terms and conditions including…

ticket back

… the warning that the ticket will not be refunded, replaced, or exchanged. Since this was found in a Chicago library book some years after Pacquiao successfully defended his title and the event was in Paradise, Nevada, this had to be a special occasion even if the ticket holder had been one of those folks who might blithely spend $300 on breakfast. (This I doubt. From what I remember of the book, I can imagine it as a book read for a school research project.)

Just imagine the drama when the ticket went missing. Or, more likely, the drama preceded the ticket’s use as a bookmark. There’s a story there, maybe a shaggy dog parable resembling a cross between J.D. Salinger and Garrison Keillor or maybe something dark. You’ll have to imagine (or write) that story yourself, dear reader.

(But Paradise, Nevada? Shouldn’t that be pairadice? …begging your pardon…)

bookmarks

Oh, that bottom item is a cute hologram of one cat grooming another but scanning it just leaves all the motion mushed together.

Santa on Vacation?

dsc05802a
Photo by Roman

— Santa Claus!

The fat man whirled with a finger to his lips.

— Shush! If Mrs. Claus finds out I’m here, there’ll be hell to pay. She thinks I’m in contract negotiations with the Elves Union. Not another word, not to anyone, or you won’t even get coal in your Christmas sock. There’ll be coal ash under your tree and your home will be an EPA superfund site.

— Will there be a strike?

— Of course not! We settled-up in an afternoon. It was mostly a matter of the elves trying to figure out what the elves wanted; they’re never prepared.

— What did they get?

— Anything they wanted. They’re elves for Pete’s Sake! You don’t mess with them when they’re on a solidarity kick. And, anyway, it’s for Christmas; why would anyone deny them? Now if you’ll excuse me, we’ve got tickets to see Elvish Pressley and I gotta go.

— But what are–

Not a word! Remember!

— Yip

Back when I was some 40 pounds heavier, “Santa!” was a typical wise-guy cry, at least seasonally, though my impression is that it was as much the beard and the coat as it was the weight because during the warm months of the year “ZZ Top!” would take the lead.

But I have indeed threatened coal ash when fingered as Santa. “ZZ Top” usually just got a denying shake of the head with a smile but on one occasion, the bloke was serious. That was creepy.

Before the COVID, these encounters would happen several times each year, mostly in good humor though repetitious. Even so, children, be careful what you wish for when you wish to be a star.

Post Script: It hadn’t happened in a while, but this last Sunday I was fingered as Jerry Garcia. But wait, Garcia is gratefully dead. Do I look that bad?

Nap Time

Photo by Roman.

Look into my eyes… You are getting sleepy. Feel the weight of those weary eyelids. Those tired eyes feel so good enclosed in the warm, dark embrace. Time for a nap then? I have just the thing to rest upon: a plastic fake rag rug that today somewhat puts me into the time of kindergarten when I would have napped on something of cotton and thus more closely resembling a real rag rug.

It would have had my name upon it.

That rug was not particularly comfortable.

This rug serves as a bath mat.

The image is utterly mundane. It is the nostalgia that I present to you, not quite so vivid as an evocative scent, but here it is.

Booster

And a happy Saturday / Weekend to one and all: I got my Pfizer Covid booster this last Wednesday.

What took so long? Being an already vaccinated, reclusive geezer who rarely spends time in the presence of other humans or indeed other creatures of any sort, it wasn’t a priority. The mechanics of making and keeping an appointment seemed a bit more work than it was worth. If it were a new product, a vaccine tailored to the latest versions circulating, for example, the calculation would have been a bit different.

What happened instead was a regularly scheduled visit to my doctor. The agenda resembled one of those “death panel” visits that conservatives had so much fun using to scare the living bejesus out of their credulous supporters some years ago. But there was some actual medicine in the queue as well.

It didn’t start well. The office is in Evanston and involves a transfer to the Purple line in Evanston. And it was bloody cold, not far above zero Fahrenheit. So I allowed an hour for the trip and this was good. First, the Red line train promised to stop in Rogers Park at a quarter after the hour was late, throwing off its connection with the Purple line. Then I arrived at the office, still with time to spare, only to find they had moved. The sign provided an address, but I’ve never bothered to learn more of Evanston’s geography than I needed to know at that particular moment. The street number was similar and the street name vaguely familiar but… is it a north / south street or east / west? Where do I go? No smart phone, you see.

Well, back to the Davis CTA station. CTA stations frequently have neighborhood maps posted or maybe I’d run into someone willing to help. The Davis station had a map with a numbered street grid and the new address was no more than a block away. I got there in time.

It turns out that the “immediate care” clinic attached to the operation was providing free COVID booster shots the latter half of the week without an appointment (an appointment is required at both of my local pharmacies), so I was able to complete a long physician visit, lab work, and the booster shot in one long stop that day.

The entire errand took up about four hours. As I had been fasting for about 24 hours prior, that was getting toward the limits of my endurance.

Of the three Pfizer COVID shots, my reaction to the third shot was the worst. By winter’s early evening, I was aching, possibly feverish, exhausted. My kingdom for a hot bath and bed! And that’s where I was by 7 PM and where I remained until twelve hours later.

I awoke Thursday morning feeling great!!: that energetic joy that I’ve so often felt upon awakening after an illness.

Here’s my bottom line, folks. Your immune system may get better training to resist subsequent COVID infections by having an actual exposure to one of the new strains of COVID, but this is not a virus you really should mess with as “long COVID” is a real possibility, it’s not good to be contagious, and there is no way for you to predict the course of the disease, the outcome. If you think that you are tough and lucky and don’t need this shit and furthermore nobody is going to tell you what to do… please pardon my lack of diplomacy but you are at a very stupid place in your life. Get vaccinated. Get boosted.

(Photo by Roman.)

Two faux post script paragraphs

Some people seem to forget (or perhaps wilfully ignore) that vaccinations have been a part of routine medical care for over a century. We’ve all had a lot of them. For my part, smallpox and the three COVID shots together were the worst with side effects, but that makes the COVID shots sound worse than they actually are. My reaction to the smallpox inoculation was an order of magnitude worse than Pfizer’s COVID. I got the nurse to target my smallpox scar with this latest COVID shot… still aches a little. Speaking of smallpox, people generally give the socialist author Upton Sinclair’s portrayal of Chicago’s meatpacking industry for motivating the passage of the pure food and drug act. But there were also issues with the quality of smallpox vaccines at the start of the 20th Century. It makes for some interesting history.

In other medical news, stop the presses: I’m vitamin D deficient. In fact, the blood test returned a zero value. Unless they spend a fair amount of time outdoors, everyone living 42 degrees north (Rogers Park / Evanston) is likely to be deficient and I doubt that I’m a record-setter. Vitamin D goes in and out of favor for various aspects of wellness (aside from maternal and newborn health) but currently there’s some clinical evidence suggesting (which is to say, maybe or maybe not) that the vitamin (D3 in particular) is useful in resisting the virus. It all sounds about as tentative as the question of whether ACE inhibitors (taken for blood pressure, for example) have any affect on COVID, and that question is still open, I think. Still, my physician recommended supplements. The last time I took vitamin D supplements, my kidneys got rid of it as quickly as I consumed it and there were no other observable effects. I think I’ll pass on the supplements. Still, water has been my beverage of choice after breakfast. Now it’s milk.

In the Time of Feeling Fragile

Photo by Roman.

I became ill several days ago. Oh no… I’ll not burden you with a mantra chant of symptoms: coincidental or otherwise, imaginary or all too real, amusing or gross.

So what is wrong and what of it?

How can I tell you? I mean… I do not know. Could be one thing. Could be another. Could be several things. A label would be idle speculation.

And so what of it…

Simply that it slowed me down… Yet that only made a small difference in what I’ve accomplished. No, this is not a triumph. Rather it is that I was already moving that slow.

–Yip