Monday, February 27, 2006

Aurora Borealis Comes In Yooooou

I'm having a bad hair day. Scratch that. I'm having a bad hair week. Am I concerned? Not really, but if it continues for much longer, I may have to take drastic measures. Here's the deal. I got my hair cut a week ago Saturday, and what should have been a fairly routine occurrence ended up not being so at all.

I walked into the salon and was told by the somewhat distracted receptionist that Renee, the woman who cuts my hair (whom I've mentioned in this blog before), had already left in order to go to the Emergency Room to get her kidney looked at. You can imagine the look of befuddlement on my face. Well... maybe you can't if you've never seen my face, but trust me, it was befuddled. I was befuddled. Before I could express this befuddlement to the now attentive receptionist, she (perhaps noting my look of befuddlement) chimed in again and told me they'd be happy to either reschedule, or if I were willing to wait, then another stylist, Grace, could cut my hair. Whew. Befuddlement, be gone! Grace has arrived! Praise be!

I was familiar with Grace. She'd cut my hair a few years before when Renee was on maternity leave and done an excellent job, particularly considering she'd never done so before and wasn't privy to the manner in which I liked it cut. Granted, I'm not particularly picky these days. When you go with long hair for five years, like I did from '96-'01, and you manage to convince yourself that you look good, when in fact you look like the second coming of Johnny Tremain, it's time to let someone else be the judge of good hair style. I have entrusted Renee (and every so often, Grace) with this responsibility in recent years. Based on other people's comments, they haven't failed me yet, unless of course my friends are simply too nice to tell me.

So anyway, Grace finally finished with her previous client so she had the assistant (whom I tipped - see above link) shampoo my hair before sitting me down and getting to work. While she's snipping away, conversation strikes up.

"So, Grace, what's the deal? Renee went to go have her kidney looked at? Is this a fairly regular occurrence? What does she do, just plop it up on the counter and say, 'I think something's wrong?' I mean, a kidney is not something the average person can readily diagnose as being well, er... ill."

"Naw, naw... nuthin' like that. She's been havin' a pain in her side all week and it's been gettin' worse each day. Finally today, she walks in limpin'. I told her she betta get herself to the doctah's or else she's in real trouble. I had a kidney infection once, and the exact same thing happened. I was in bed fuh two weeks."



We continued to discuss Renee's medical woes (Here's hoping she's OK. I still don't know. She's a fantastic woman with a great personality, and can cut a mean head of hair) while Grace did her thing. Towards the end of the cut she asked me to look up and see if everything looked O.K.. It was kind of hard to tell at first, as my bangs were in my eyes. I brushed them aside and said,

"Sorry, but do you think you could trim the bangs a little bit more, please?"


She took about another 1/2 inch off, and then had me look again. By this point it looked decent enough. Although, it was a tad bit different than previous cuts, I was more than pleased with the results given the current circumstances. Why split hairs? (Get it? Split... hairs? Pun most certainly intended.... Ooooh, man... I kill me.) Grace then threw some crazy nouveau styling gel shit in my hair and proceeded to give it the "wind blown" look, which was fine. I'm only a short train ride from the salon and few people saw me on the trek from there to my home. Once there, I washed the gel out, ran a comb through it and I was back to my normal self.

Now, one week later, I'm thinking splitting hairs might have been the wise choice. In the short bit my hair has grown in, I'm noticing that it's a bit more uneven than I thought. This is not Grace's fault, by any stretch. It's my own for not noticing it beforehand. Today, after I threw some gel in myself (but not the crazy nouveau styling shit Grace used. CVS brand for me, baby. Nothing but the best) it looked like I had an 80's coiffure with bangs going down one side. It's nothing horrific... yet. If things continue on their present course, however, there's a good chance I'll be looking like that cat from A Flock Of Seagulls. Or not. This could just be a case of "scissor shock", as Renee likes to call it. My plan is to let it grow in further still and see what happens. Maybe it'll be Flock of Seagulls. Maybe Duran Duran. Maybe, if I wait REALLY long it'll be Def Leppard (actually no.. been down that road before.) Maybe it'll just turn into normal Eric hair, assuming there is such a thing. Whatever. I just wanted to tell you all so that you're not shocked the next time you see me. But, more importantly, I'm looking for an excuse to post A Flock Of Seagulls song.

Now I have one.

And you thought I was done posting 80's music. Puh-LEEZE.

Have fun everybody.

Download: A Flock Of Seagulls - I Ran

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Little Man!

THAT little scoundrel is my newest nephew, Colin. He decided to pay us a visit on Monday at about 10:40 AM after a trip that only took a little under two hours. Once he got here, he announced that that he'd like to stick around for a little while, and asked my sister, her husband, and their other son if they would agree to put him up and feed him during that time. He didn't yet know his precise dates of stay, but he figured it would be somewhere in the area of eighteen years or so, figuring at that point he'd probably work, go to college or something of that nature. He did reserve the right to stay longer if necessary, however. My sister and her family graciously agreed and took him in as one of their own - the only conditions being that they be allowed to teach him how to eat, speak, walk, run, poop, jump, sing, dance, cry, laugh, read, ride a bicycle, be friendly to everyone else, and give lots of hugs. He seemed up to the task and although a little scared at first, genuinely enthusiastic and eager to get started. In fact, he's already got the "cry", "eat", and "poop" things down pat.

He's also already got looks in his favor, which is saying something. As I was telling a friend in an e-mail yesterday, most newborn babies are butt ugly and get progressively more adorable with each passing day. It's just a known fact. Colin, in his infinite wisdom, seems to have decided to skip over ugly and start out as "damn cute." This will give him an edge on the competition and, assuming he progresses at a normal pace, will ensure that he's a rico suave Don Juan by adulthood. I've even given him a nickname already to help further distinguish him from his peers - "Little C-Note." I suspect my sister may have a word with me about that one, though.

But, whatever. Now is not the time to agonize over minutiae. Rather, make sure to give a hearty "Hello and Welcome" to Master Colin if you should you run into him, and if you have time, impart some wisdom which will help keep him healthy & happy.

Lastly, to my sister and her family, a loving Congratulations! You done good.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Hart to Hart

Something is seriously wrong. As ashamed as I am to admit this, I feel I have to or else it's going to kill me. I woke up this morning, and literally, from the moment I stepped out of bed, I've had Never Surrender by Corey Hart stuck in my head. Christ, this is absolutely BRUTAL. I hadn't heard the song in years (up until now, when I just downloaded it.) I've never liked it, yet the tune is forever etched into my subconscious due to my beloved sister and her adolescent crush on Mr. Hart while we were growing up. She played the album non.... friggin..... stop. Hell, I had an entire summer vacation up at the lake in New Hampshire virtually ruined because of that damn tape. But that's not even the worst part. If I dwell on it, I can see the VIDEO, or at least the portion of it where he stands firm in horrific acid washed jeans, raises a clenched fist and tells us to "NEVER SURREENNNDER-ER!"

Fuck you, Corey. Get the hell out of my head... and take your career with you. What's wrong with me? Why has this happened? And why THIS particular song? Hell, I wouldn't even be this irritated if it were Sunglasses At Night. Anyway, the good folks at "Ask Yahoo" tell me that 'Professor James Kellaris from the University of Cincinnati believes "cognitive itches" are the reason. This isn't a real itch, but rather a fancy-sounding metaphor for falling victim to catchy but annoying tunes. Just like real itches, the only way to get rid of a cognitive itch is to scratch it. And by "scratch it," we mean sing it until you're teetering on the brink of insanity.'

So.... Corey Hart is itching me and I have to scratch him back? Whoa. Forgive me if I appear somewhat hesitant. Look. I will not be singing this song out loud. I'd sooner swallow lye. Plus, you really don't want to hear my voice, Corey Hart singalong or not. It's usually not pretty. My roommate sings all the time. He is the Grand Master in the art of song butchery. Case in point - not long ago he was singing the song Guantanamera while cooking. Pretty easy song, right? The chorus consists largely of one word (Guantanamera) repeated four times. Not exactly something you'd readily forget. So he gives it a stab, like so:

Guajida Guantanamera!
Por ti sere."

Having forgotten the fourth word of the chorus he substituted a line from 'La Bamba' that came kind of close to matching the notes, and had almost the same number of syllables. I have heard this man mistakenly throw lyrics from the 2 Live Crew into a Joan Baez ballad, and somehow incorporate C&C Music Factory into a protest march. And no, this is not a criticism. Far from it. His innovation is indeed a beautiful thing. He often takes songs that suck and unknowingly reinvents them into versions which are far better. I've come to refer to the tunes he sings as the "Martinized edits." I'll have to introduce him to Corey Hart and see what he can do, because this original version is fast becoming unbearable.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I've tried listening to different music - everything from Run DMC to the Sneaker Pimps. Nothing lasts. Corey, damn him, sings louder then them all. Hell, I've even tried Steve Perry to try and substitute one bad 80's tune for another. No luck.

I don't know. It's been a VERY long week, and I think sleep might be the only thing that cures this particular ailment. I'm just afraid of what will happen when I awake tomorrow morning. Who's going to pay a visit? Has Corey extended his stay? Did Burt Bacharach decide to stop in for a spell? UB40? Sister Souljah? It's a terrible thing to live your life in fear. Now, thanks to Corey, I'm finding that out. Who knows what will be lurking when the dawn breaks? All I can do is wait... and hope... and pray. See Corey? See what you're doing? You may try to take away my right to fight..... but I'll never surrender.

Oh my......

God damn you, Corey Hart. You've ruined my life.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Promises Renewed

I have been called out. No question about it. See for yourself...

Date: Saturday, February 11th

Time: 8:30ish PM

Place: Christopher's Restaurant. Massachusetts Avenue. Porter Square. Cambridge, MA

Reason for being (there): My dear friend Hopalong... er, Wynne's 26th birthday extravaganza.

O.K. So here's the situation. My parents went away on a weeks vacation aaaand they left the keys to the brand new Porsche! Would they mind? Mmmm.. well.. of co...

Sorry, sorry.... mind is.... off in crazy town... Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, though... *sigh* never mind... I'm making no sense. Let's start again. I'll provide a transcript. OK? OK. Alright stop, collaborate and listen...

(Note: Although more people were present, the conversation to follow consists of only Wynne, Andrew & me. Wynne (whose name is Welsh and means "blessed, white & fair") and Andrew (whose name originates from the New Testament - namely the apostle Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, who according to legend was crucified on an X-shaped cross, and is the patron saint of Scotland, Russia & Greece) have been mentioned in this space before. They seem to have a knack for infesting my thoughts. Maybe we need to spend some time away from each other...)

Me: Happy Birthday Wynne!

Wynne: You didn't update your blog today. There are a few websites I check every morning before work. Yours is among them.... for now... but every morning I go to (imitates typing motion with hands) and almost every morning, I'm disappointed. There are no updates.

Me: Huh? You can't expect me to update every day. That's ludicrous.

Andrew: Oh, but we can! Yes. When you started writing that thing you were consistent. You posted, at a minimum, every two or three days. Now, we wait days, sometimes WEEKS for a new post. You led us down the primrose path and just as we were getting comfortable, you walk away! Well, let me tell you, friend... the path is no longer primrose! It's treacherous! What you're doing... well, it isn't fair. We expect more frequent updates. It isn't fair at all, dammit, and I don't like it!

Me: Uh... Happy Birthday Wynne!

(My dear friends will excuse me for applying a dab of poetic license. While superfluous dialogue was deleted for succinctness' sake, and counterfeit statements were injected for dramatic effect, the essence of the exchange remains true. I'm sure they are in no wise abashed by my literary embellishment.)

I've heard this from other people before, and my response is generally the same. On the surface, I just sort of nod my head and shyly acquiesce, offering a rather sheepish, "Yeah you're right. I've been lazy. I'll update soon."

The voice inside? Well, that's an entirely different story. Usually it says something like, "Fuck them. I write random, somewhat meaningless ramblings on a half-assed, fly-by-night blog that maybe ten people, tops, read, and they're complaining about the frequency in which I do it? What, am I supposed to provide their entertainment? It's not like I'm charging a subscription fee, here. Hell, I even provide a free mp3 for them to download. Get your own blog and read that. Leech."

Alright, so I'm not quite so harsh, but yeah, I kind of felt like although I enjoyed updating, and writing posts filled with inside jokes for my friends, that this site was more of a sideshow than anything else. I started this thing simply to get back into the habit of writing again. I wrote a lot in college, and although I enjoyed it tremendously, I put my quill down to pursue other, more desirable interests. The luster on those "other interests" faded rather quickly as it turned out, and last April, when I decided to start writing again in earnest, I figured that a blog would be a good way to ease back into the craft and provide a good method for regular practice. Whether anyone read it or not (and I assumed that it would most likely be "not") was none of my business.

Or so I thought. After Saturday nights wake-up call (for lack of a better term) with Wynne and Andrew, I decided to check the stats on this site. Yeah, they're my friends but I was still a little surprised to hear that they poke their heads in daily, looking to see if there's anything new. Like I said, this is my writing practice. I didn't expect anyone except friends and family to actually read the thing, much less regularly. What I saw when checking my stats was rather surprising. Somewhere along the line (I don't know why or where), this little site picked up an audience. It isn't huge, and in no way have I reached uber blog status yet, but the amount of people checking in daily is significantly more than just friends and family. Why is that surprising? Because the last time I bothered to check the stats on this page, none of you were around.

Christ. Who the hell invited you all? Thanks for that two ton pile of pressure to perform you just threw on my shoulders. Actually, scratch that. I'd offer a hearty welcome, but it appears that you folks were already here. If anything, I'm the one that needs welcoming.

"Welcome back to your own blog, Eric! Glad to see you made it back safely!"

Thank you. Glad to be here. So what, you're probably wondering, can you expect? Daily updates? Not a chance. At least not yet. I DO have a full time job still, and life gets more than a bit busy sometimes. In fact, it's kind of crazy at the moment. But, for what it's worth, I've decided to take this blogging thing seriously again, if only because writing is important to me and I want to get better at it. Like I've said before, the only way I know how to do that is to keep writing. So, I'll make every effort to update with the same frequency I did in the beginning (around every two or three days.) I've promised this before, I know, but believe me when I say that those promises were probably not much more than lip service to appease some whining friend who wouldn't shut up. This time, there's more of a feeling of a renewed sense of purpose (much as I loathe the term.) Content? More of the same, which is to say I don't really know, but expect it to be rather self-centered because I'm an egotist like that. I'll try not to let the fact that this blog has gotten a small readership actually influence what I write. I don't think it will be that difficult, simply because I don't really know who any of you are. Furthermore, my friends and family are the ones who started reading this, and who, in some small way, I geared this towards. Don't see any reason to change that now. See? All it takes is for you to invite me to your birthday party and then chastise me for being a slacker.

In closing, I'll quote Stephen King, who I'm not ashamed to say is one of my favorite authors. He wrote a book about writing a couple of years back (titled On Writing, oddly enough) which I haven't actually finished (story of my life) but there is one passage in there that I found particularly appropriate:

"You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair - the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

I'm not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I'm not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn't a popularity contest, it's not the moral Olympics, and it's not church. But it's writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can't or won't, it's time for you to do something else. Wash the car, maybe."

Writers write. Best get started.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Broken Promises

I suck. In yesterday's post I promised (sort of) that I'd deliver a Friday links post today. I didn't. Time simply did not permit. Apologies to all of you who were (I'm sure) waiting with baited breath. This blog is just soooooooooooo crucial to your daily routine that lack of a post when there should be one knocks you all off kilter. Is the sarcasm dripping yet? Good, I hope so. I'm trying not to sound like an arrogant jackass here.

I won't leave you completely empty handed, however. I may be too busy to write a complete post, but I can still leave you with a few delightful little nightmares.

I was watching The Nightmare Before Christmas the other day (Why? I don't know. Both Christmas and Halloween have well since passed) and it put me in a mischievous sort of mood. Occasionally I get like this. I love dark humor most of the time, and although it plays hell with both my psyche and my karma, sometimes I can't help myself. You folks will bear the brunt.

First, we have a link to The Gashlycrumb Tinies. This is a delightful little book written by Edward Gorey (of Mystery! illustration fame) which goes through the alphabet and depicts all manner of the macabre - A to Z. My favorite? Probably J is for James who took lye by mistake. Hard to decide though. I might also add that the hardcover edition of this book (which is all of 3 inches by 5 inches) is on prominent display on my living room table. My roommate has heretofore not said anything. I suspect he'll be calling those guys with the long-armed white jacket any day now though. We'll have a party.

Along those lines we have the artwork of Patricia Waller. This is much like The Gashlycrumb Tinies except it features beanie baby dolls.... or something like that. The site is in German, so I'm not quite sure if/how one could place an order, but I like looking at the nice little pictures. They make me happy. Yes, I worked out all my issues in therapy YEARS ago. Don't worry.

Lastly, a musical selection so chosen because it fit rather nicely with th
e title of this post and is all about not doing what you say you will. 80's New Wave fans rejoice! I give you Promises, Promises from the Naked Eyes. Download it, burn it, and then walk around town pretending you're in a John Hughes film. I suggest The Breakfast Club.

Have a good weekend folks. I'll try to check in at some point during it, but I can't promise anything. Later.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You Put The Lime In The Coconut?

Yup, I'm alive. Yup, I'm still posting. Glad we got that out of the way.

I've mentioned in previous posts that I come from a family awash in medical know-how. In fact, all the women in the family had the good sense to make it their life's work. At last count, they number two nurses and an M.D. Future counts are unlikely to reveal any changes in that number. My brother and father are firmly ensconced in their career and retirement, respectively. Not long ago, I had entertained the idea of dropping everything and going into nursing (for monetary reasons) but my mother was quick to very gently set me straight, noting that while nursing is a great career with the potential for great rewards (financial and otherwise), and that many more men were entering the field, she could not - at all - see me changing a bedpan. Too right. Thanks Mom.

As it turns out, a bedpan would have been the least of my worries. This morning, whilst sipping tea and shirking work, I stumbled across this list of patient no-no's on the forums of (Note: I don't normally spend my mornings going through the forums of specialized websites on fields I have nothing to do with. The list, superb as it is, found its way onto Boing Boing, which is fast becoming my favorite site on the web. Great way to kill time.) Some of the entries include:
  • Always wait until finishing your woodwork with the skillsaw prior to using your meth.
  • Don't road surf on the top of a moving stickshift car driven by your younger sibling with a learner's permit.
  • Never leave your last refill of percocet in plain sight after your docs office closes if one of these 3 friends is coming over for dinner: 1) some dude 2) my friend 3) that bitch.
  • Latex paint, despite being thick and creamy, does not coat your stomach and provide the same relief as pepto bismol.
  • If you have taken 7 home pregnancy tests that are all positive, and you come into the emergency department...chances are that test too will come back positive.
Be warned now. Many of the entries will turn your stomach (think 'nether regions' and razor blades) and others talk about death in a rather nonchalant manner. There is definitely a certain degree of callousness involved. However, if you're able to get beyond that, the list provides for some hearty chuckles and gives one a new appreciation for what those in the medical profession have to put up with on a daily basis. To my mother and sisters... well, all I can say is you're doing God's work. You have my unyielding gratitude (and sympathy.) Enjoy.

P.S. Friday Links post tomorrow - I hope.