If I'm going to retroactively continue this "including links to things I've written" tradition, I might as well mention that I had a piece a while back on Salon about tips on how to survive as a freelancer. Check it out here.
So. After a long round of trying to find a place willing to evaluate my sleep for free (it's for an article, not an actual sleep problem), I was thrilled last night when someone called me from a sleep disorder clinic to tell me they had a last-minute opening in their Fremont office. Could I be there in two hours? I immediately agreed.
I'll admit: I've always liked the idea of being hooked up to electrodes. An MRI would have been even better (who cares about claustrophobia when you get to see the inside of your brain!) but for now, the electrodes would have to suffice.
I'm not sure what my point in this post is except to say that as a result of my sleep study, I am really, really tired. First, I was sleeping in a strip mall. There was a mortgage office next door and a Safeway across the parking lot. A Holiday Inn would have had a more relaxing atmosphere. Second, I didn't get hooked up to all the electrodes till just after 11pm, which is almost past my normal bedtime. This wouldn't have been a problem if the technician hadn't bid me good night with the sentence, "I'll wake you up around six." That, combined with the fact that I had electrodes on my head, chest and calves, bands around my chest and ribs, a oxygen monitor on my finger, and two plastic tubes up my nose, made it very difficult to sleep. (Not to mention the fact that I had performance anxiety -- there was a camera in the bedroom so that the technician could monitor my position.)
So when she came back to my room at 5:59 am, on the dot, I was not at my finest. Nor do I feel like I'm at my finest right now, nearly twelve hours after the wakeup call.
But at least I got hooked up to electrodes. I haven't gotten the results of the analysis yet, but suffice it to say, I'm excited.
Why do you think it's okay to go into the cafe bathroom and take a huge, smelly dump? And spend your time on the toilet playing some weird hand-clapping game that I, sitting at a table next to the bathroom, could hear through the door?
I've been trying to stick to a 5-6 day a week workout schedule, and recently decided to give myself a break from laps around the lake (3.2 miles of "I'm bored") by going to a cardio hip hop class. Because that sounds fun, right? As I've noticed previously on this blog -- after the other time I tried this class -- I figured out a very successful strategy for not feeling dumb and uncoordinated in such classes: stand in the back so that you can't see yourself. Then stare at the teacher and pretend that they're you. Result? You look fantastic. In my case, that means that I have suddenly morphed into a black man, but you know what? That image is almost more realistic than me actually perfecting a body roll. So I'm sticking to it.
Anyway, last Friday's class was great and I left energized, so energized, in fact, that I stopped by my friend Josh's house afterwards to show him my "moves." Actually, to be more specific, I tried to play it off like it was Josh who wanted to see me dance -- but he was on to me. When I asked, "Do you want to see the dance?" he responded, "I know you want to show me the dance," and reluctantly agreed to watch. So I went out onto the sidewalk in front of his house and ran through the routine.
Fine and good, if a little embarrassing. But as I walked away from his house into the bright mid-morning sun, I felt a pinch in my shoulder. Like, not a little tweak, but some serious pain -- and it didn't go away. Rather, when I sat down in a nearby cafe to try to get some work done, it began to radiate down my arm and make me feel slightly nauseated. I started to wonder if my hip hop routine were actually pushing me into shock.
The pain didn't go away, so I bought some Aleve, convinced the people at the cafe to give me some ice, and called my med school friend, Jenny, to see what she thought might be going on. Unable to determine simply by phone whether it were a simple muscle pull or something more serious, like a pinched nerve, she suggested that if it didn't feel better, I go to the emergency room.
I didn't do that, which turned out to be lucky because if I had, the cause of injury would have been really really embarrassing. See, because it turned out that what I had wasn't a pulled muscle, or a pinched nerve. It was a hip-hop induced muscle spasm in my rhomboid. I think it happened when I threw my arms above my head at the same time as performing a hip thrust. (Do not try this at home.) Once I'd taken a bunch of ibuprofen and had Peter press his entire body weight, via his elbow, into the offending muscle, the pain went away, for the most part -- but it's still a little sore, and when I went running yesterday, it started cramping up again.
So now I'm left in a quandary: Do I lay off the hip hop? Or can I go back on Friday? Because the thing is, the class is really fun. And a lot of the people in the class are older than I am, and don't appear to be doing any damage to their rhomboids. But still, I question: is it worth the risk?
I cannot believe that I haven't yet written about the most exciting social event in recent history: The San Francisco Film Society's presentation of a sing-a-long version of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet." In case anyone is not yet aware of this "hip-hopera," let me just say that it is a 22-part music video series, created by -- and starring -- R. Kelly, that chronicles the intertwined adulterous affairs of a bunch of different people, including Omar from "The Wire," with a narration sung entirely by the RK himself. It's not really worth trying to describe the plot (for background, read this very funny article from the New York Times --which describes it as a tale of "violence, infidelity, and violent infidelity"). Suffice it to say, though, that it starts off with R. Kelly hiding in his lover's closet brandishing a Beretta, and eventually involves a midget.
Anyway, on a very rainy Friday night, a huge crowd of people gathered in a performance space in San Francisco to watch the entire 22-part series and, the theory went, sing along to it. (This is made easier by the fact that R. Kelly uses the same beat, background and melody for the entire 'hopera.) Personally, I wasn't sure what to expect -- my last singalong experience was a "Sound of Music" screening in the Castro theater, for which they gave out goodie bags containing plastic springs of Edelweiss, and people dressed up as toast and jam. It was one of the best nights of my life. At Trapped in the Closet, the goodie bags were replaced by special R. Kelly condoms, printed with the tagline "Oh my god, it's a rubber (rubber, rubber)" -- which, if you've seen chapter 2, is hysterical. That pretty much sums up the difference between the two experiences. (Though, if there are any creative types out there with time on their hands, I'd highly suggest that someone do a Trapped in the Closet/Sound of Music mashup in which Julie Andrews and R. Kelly switch places.)
The night got off to a great start when the emcee came out and welcomed the crowd by singing his own verse of trapped in the closet, complete with falsetto, and then invited audience members to come up on stage and sing about their own days in the manner of R. Kelly. Having not forseen this audience participation, I was unprepared and hovered in the back, next to a large speaker, as some guy named Matt got up on stage and, well, totally rocked it. He must have been a plant. But I digress. My point in this post is to say, first, that if you are offered a chance to go to an R. Kelly singalong, I highly, highly recommend that you take it. And secondly, some of the more useful aspects of going to an actual singalong, instead of watching the entire series on your computer, are as follows:
-if you watch it alone, you will get confused and bored
-there will be no one around to turn to and sing, "shit, think, shit, think" every time a decision needs to be made
-you won't get an R. Kelly rubber
-you won't get to listen to the commentary provided by the emcee, which was not only funny, but quite useful. Like, for example, when he pointed out that while things make relatively good sense up to chapter 6, after that some point -- for some reason never fully explained -- R. Kelly switches from using the first-person to the third, suddenly morphing into two separate characters: the ethereal, white suited R. Kelly narrator figure, and the plot's protagonist, who suddenly starts being referred to as "Sylvester"
-the night probably won't end with a dance party
In summary, I highly recommend singalongs of all types, especially those that include free gin tastings and mandatory mid-screening dance breaks to "Bump and Grind." Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
I just spent the morning blogging for Broadsheet, but what I really wanted to be writing about was not feminism, but hummingbirds. See, because thanks to Peter's weekend efforts, we now have not one, not two, but (I think) four hummingbird feeders hanging on various eaves around the house. And I'm worried about our influence.
It took the hummingbirds a long time to find our first feeder -- they would flutter around the jasmine and lavender blossoms and ignore the the feeder hanging just several feet beyond their natural reach. In doing so, they were continuing their work as pollinators, stepping in to fill the role of those mysteriously disappearing bees and keeping nature's magical homeostasis in working order. But, the thing is, they were really hard to see.
So imagine our delight when we saw the first hummingbird at the kitchen feeder. At first it seemed to think its discovery was too good to be true -- it would hover, take a sip of the sweet, sweet sugar water, and flit off to real blossom to drink some actual nectar -- only to find itself inexplicably pulled back to those huge red plastic flowers that just tasted SO FUCKING GOOD. A few days later, we saw the same hummingbird -- except that instead of nervously flitting around the feeder and darting off, it was now sitting on the edge of the feeder, drinking. It didn't seem to care when I walked up to the sink and stared at it from three feet. Just kept sipping. I'm no ornithologist, but I didn't think hummingbirds were known for their abilities to chillaxinate.
Anyway, we just put a feeder up on the front porch this weekend and they've found it already. Something about this seemed wrong to me, but I tried my best to reframe: maybe our new feeder was essentially a franchise of a successful restaurant -- you know, like we've got Chez Panisse out back and this is the new Cafe. We had good reviews on Yelp. The people love us. What can you do?
But I watched another hummingbird out there this morning, and it seems a little less like we're running a restaurant and more like we've opened a crack house. There was a different bird out there, also sitting, taking big swigs of sugar water as if it were an alcoholic nursing a bottle. I counted as it took at least ten hits before another hummingbird flew up, attacked the guy drinking, and they both flew away, chirping angrily. I think it's the start of turf wars.