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ST. PAUL’S REDUX

I brought reading material with me to the ER. All my life I’ve habitually brought reading material—usually an excess of reading material—no matter where I’m going. I can’t even run a simple errand without having at least one book and two or maybe three magazines on me. It’s something I learned to do as a child, back when we lived in a small house in the woods in Upstate New York. Living in “The Woods” meant that I spent a significant portion of my childhood—maybe 20 or 30 percent of it—in the boring backseats of cars as my parents drove us to nearby cities—either Rome (20 minutes), Utica (45 minutes) or Syracuse (one hour); and, yes, we lived near three depressed and crumbling metropolises, all with ridiculously Homeric names—for groceries, or perhaps to wander around a department store to look at items that we couldn’t afford. From the age of four until 16, I probably read a couple thousand books in the backseats of cars.

But instead of perusing the reading material I’d brought with me to the ER last week—or, more accurately, trying to peruse; because of my brain troubles, I’m not the strongest reader these days—I did something that, ethically speaking, I probably should not have done: I eavesdropped on other patients.

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…AND THEN I WENT BACK TO THE HOSPITAL

Going back to St. Paul’s Hospital now is sort of like going to a college for an alumni weekend. As soon as I walk in the door, people start saying hello to me. I see a lot of faces that look familiar but that I don’t recognize. I nod at those faces. Those faces nod back. I engage in perfunctory catch-ups with the faces that I do actually recognize. Hey, how have you been? What’s new? You don’t say! We display a shared admiration and awe for the facility that we are standing in. Oh sure, this is an old hospital, but it’s still great, you know? They ask me how I’m doing and what’s new in my life. “Didn’t you used to have a beard?” a young doctor in the Cardiac Unit playfully asked me last weekend. I told him that I did not have a beard while I was a “student” at “St. Paul’s University”—not officially, I didn’t—but that I usually neglected my shaving responsibilities, which is probably why he thought I had a beard. I feel comfortable and safe and strangely at-home when I’m at St. Paul’s now. I guess I probably always will. Even the shrill noises and rhythms and aggravating tics of the place—the bright, repeating DOOT-DOOT-DOOT of the blood pressure machine; the bizarre announcements over the P.A. system (“Code Red, Providence, Level One, Code Red”)—are all soothing to me.

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HOLIDAY NOTES: PART 2

I read Lena Dunham’s book over the holidays, not because I’m a huge fan of Lena Dunham’s or anything but because I’d been having difficulty reading for months (see: my illness) and had assumed the book would be fairly simple to read and percolating with mildly interesting observations and, hopefully, some laughs. I like Lena Dunham, more than I sometimes want to admit to myself. I like the work that she does. Tiny Furniture, for example, is a terrific New York movie. I also admit that it’s impossible for me not to feel jealous, even resentful towards Lena Dunham sometimes. She’s a kid (28) who writes for The New Yorker, has a successful HBO show, and gets to work with Judd Apatow on a regular basis. All I’d have to do is find out that she also has a large, beautifully shaped penis which she uses to pleasure the 1981 version of Cheryl Tiegs and I’d seriously consider hanging myself. Somehow Lena Dunham has turned her talent for over-sharing—no small task distinguishing yourself in that realm, considering that everyone over-shares now (including me)—into a stable, successful career.  More…

MY 2014 HOLIDAY STORY

Science Fact You Probably Don’t Know: “ringworm” is a fairly common skin affliction with a melodramatic name. I was diagnosed with ringworm in late November. After devoting a fair amount of thought to it, I still don’t understand how the word “worm”—which is a terrible word, by the way—got jumbled up in its name. Because there is no actual worm involved in the affliction, unlike, say, “tapeworm,” which DOES, in fact, involve an actual worm. Yes, a tapeworm is a worm that lives in your butt. Which, frankly, sounds like the sort of thing that a worm would enjoy doing—living in a butt.

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UPDATE: I LOOK GREAT IN MY MAGIC JEWELRY

When you go through something like the fairly awful something that I’ve been through this year, on the far side there’s this feeling that you will somehow eventually be able to completely reinvent yourself. You’ll arrive at a moment when you’ll be able to pave over the old, marginally successful life, which is what I had, and start living the nonstop mardi gras that your life was always supposed to be. I saw hyperbolic headlines like STROKE BOY MAKES AMAZING RECOVERY and MIRACLE STROKE BOY KICKS ASS, TAKES NAMES. I’m not sure why I referred to myself as “STROKE BOY.” I suppose it sounds more lighthearted and less pathetic than “MIDDLE-AGED STROKE MAN.” More…

PROBLEMS: PART 2

UPDATE: Welp, I just got off the phone with Yahoo again. Long, painful phone call with a man who I believe was somewhere in India. As usual, he asked me about a hundred “security questions,” most of which I could not answer. (Him: “Who was your first crush?” Me: “…”) Also had a dodgy wireless connection during the call, further complicating matters. Between the two of us, I was able to gain access to the site again, which I am—with each successive Yahoo phone call—becoming more and more resentful towards.

Anyway, I have access, so writing is imminent. Wishing this wasn’t such a dice-roll. -Scott

PROBLEMS

As some of you have likely already realized, I’m having website woes due to an internal problem at WordPress and Yahoo Small Business. I’m trying to address it. I’m frustrated that I can’t update (or revise) right now. Thanks for your patience. Hoping to resolve this ASAP.

Scott

THE LITTLE ALIEN BABY

[Apologies for not writing sooner, folks. Been trying to get back to work, and trying to get back to work has taken a toll on me. I’m getting stronger, and getting stronger means that I’ll be writing regularly again soon. Thanks for your patience.]

I woke up in a room which, for some inexplicable reason, I thought was the garage of my surgeon’s private home. I don’t know exactly what sorts of drugs the doctors had given me. Whatever they were, they were obviously potent enough to convince me that I’d woken up in the garage of my surgeon’s private home. More…

THE RUN-DOWN DEPARTMENT STORE

A warning: What’s ahead is probably the very darkest part of this miserable, goddamn, already-dark story. Turn back, if you like; I won’t blame you. My brain, at this point in my illness, was about as useful as a lobster forgotten in a steam pot. Then one of the imaginary cooks would say: “WHO LEFT THIS LOBSTER IN THE STEAM POT? BECAUSE IT’S COMPLETELY USELESS NOW. GREAT.” And he’d be right. In fact, instead of reading this section I suggest finding a quiet ice cream parlor and treating yourself to a bowl of strawberry ice cream. Strawberry ice cream never tastes better than it does in October for some reason. And the creepy guy who works the counter could really use some company this time of year.

Things lighten up considerably after this, promise. Last chance for strawberry ice cream.

Here we go. More…

LOST & FOUND

There was a bit in the last section that I’d like to reclaim. I used the word “frightened” to describe myself in the moment when I saw my mom and dad’s faces for the first time and subsequently interpreted their appearance as a symbol of how dire things were for me. I don’t think that’s right. I don’t believe that I ever felt scared, or frightened, or sad, or angry, or anything that a healthy person would probably have been feeling throughout this. Inside me, there was only this: a static indifference. It was like a white noise, like a box fan being run at higher and higher speeds, and swallowing everything up. No, I was never genuinely “frightened” at the beginning, not really, not even when things turned grim as they soon would. More…