Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Monday, August 23, 2004

Failure of the Day: The Armpit of My Discontent

Warning: This is disgusting. NOT. KIDDING. Maybe not Cabin Fever disgusting but relative to the cake and ice cream relationships most of y’all got with your bodies, it’s pretty nasty. Do not read this if you don’t want to know about my latest battle with the horrible things my body does to me.

Remember late last year when I got a full-body rash? I still don’t know what caused it. It was pretty gross but Chris sponged oatmealy bathwater over my inflamed skin like a trooper. Ah, those were the days. I’d fucking love a full body rash just about now.

But it’s a whole new year and that calls for a whole new biblical-seeming plague. Nancy—Now Featuring: Boils! On my armpit!

Until this morning I only had a vague idea about what exactly a boil is. I think I thought it was a blister kind of thing. It’s turns out, though, no. It’s not blistery at all. For starters, boils are caused by staph infections, not some sort of skin irritation. Also, they’re HUGE. And red. And painful. And they make you really, really kvetchy. The raised part of mine is about the size of an olive, but that’s not the showstopper. The part of the boil that is under the skin is about the size of an egg. It feels like I’m holding an orange in my armpit.

Now, “lump” and “armpit” are not concepts that sit peacefully in a girl’s head; we’ve all been poking around for lumps there for decades already. I knew it wasn’t a lump though—it’s a bump (or it was, before it became a grapefruit) and that’s an important distinction. It’s the difference between a quick lancing and so long boobs, hello chemo. I was definitely in the territory of the former.

I called my very cool internist at 9 this morning and she told me to come in at 2. She really is awfully cool. She poked at it, confirmed that it was a boil, and pronounced that it was too “immature” to be lanced just yet. This was good news because I am even less clear about what “lancing” entails than I was about what a boil is, but I am pretty damn sure that it would hurt. Instead, I’ve got 10 days of antibiotics and loads of hot compresses—a bargain by any standards.

I’ve been trying to narrow down how I got this…I suppose it could have been the massage…is that possible? Does anybody know? I assume the sheets on the massage table were fresh but I couldn’t say for sure. It was a pretty fancy little spa, but I suppose you never know.

And for the record, Chris is, as ever, a prince about all this. A mercifully ungrossed-out prince. I seriously don’t know how he does it…I’m grossed out and it’s my own damn armpit. Marriage lesson #1994756: love being blind is nice and all, but true love has no gag reflex.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Failure of the Day: Lowbrow—It’s the new Highbrow!

I finally became so saturated with Philip Roth that when I started reading Sabbath’s Theatre day before yesterday—the sixth Roth book of the summer for me—my hands and eyeballs rebelled. I just couldn’t do it. Not one more word. As a result I was without a novel until this weekend. Which won’t do. So I resorted to that thing I keep swearing I will stop doing: reading books I give to Chris as gifts before he has a chance to read them. Which is just rude, I know; it transforms a gift into a hand-me-down. But I did it anyway and again, and I’m sorry.

The book I gave him for his birthday, the one I started last night, is Sock by Penn Jillette. It is, in fact, a murder mystery narrated by the lead detective’s sock puppet. And here’s the thing: it’s brilliant. Granted, I got through only the first 7 pages before I got sleepy and had to put it down, but what I read was incredible. Incredible! And not in a campy, over-clever, Lookit-Me!-I’m-still-relevent-to-the-hipsters way, although it’s that too, sorta. I mean the prose is gorgeous. The book’s two opening paragraphs were so stirring and immediate and perfect that I was reminded of my favorite opening paragraphs in any book ever—those of Kenzaburo Oe’s A Personal Matter. Now, there’s nothing remotely similar about those books or their opening paragraphs—it more that I was reminded not of Oe’s opening paras, I was reminded of the experience of reading them.

Obviously, I’m setting myself up for a massive disappointment with Sock. It can’t really be as good as I thought it was last night. Right? Great literature does not feature as its protagonist a sock puppet. Right? I was sleepier than I thought. I must have been. OK. I feel better. Never mind.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Failure of the Day: Stranger’s Hands

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and Chris has to work on Saturday and it seemed like as good a time as any seeing as how my work station at the new office is about the antithesis of ergonomic and I’m feeling it in my right arm and wrist. I’m getting a massage. I’ve never had one before and I’m excited but it’s freaking me out a little too.

(Aside: Melissa, I hope it doesn’t piss you off that I didn’t go to you for this. First, I’m not sure if you are still around these days; your blog is gone. Second, I figured a stranger would be better for the first time (And that’s a conclusion I’ve come to about a number of other things but that’s a whole other story) just because I can keep a completely professional distance and I might as well just say that almost the whole reason is that I am absolutely drop-dead terrified that I will fart during the massage in which case I can run screaming from the room and never see that person again. But if you are still around, and if it turns out that I am capable maintaining some sort of decorum, we should talk about it, OK?)

I used to know a woman whose company treated all their employees to an at-your-desk massage one Friday afternoon. That’s a pretty cool thing and my pal was enjoying her free massage until the person did something wrong and hurt my friend’s neck so bad it wasn’t right for years afterward. That freaks me out a little. Especially since we’re talking about bodies here and mine is notoriously unreliable, at least historically speaking. Lately, except for my damn subtalar joint, which was way more my fault that its, it’s been doing a pretty good job of just functioning properly, which is really all I ever wanted.

So it feels a little risky to allow somebody who, however much expertise he or she might have with bodies in general, has probably never experienced the likes of me. But on the other hand, it’s sort of my way offering my body an olive branch. My body has hated me for a long time and I have hated it even longer, and maybe doing something that it will like will help mend some fences.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Failure of the Day: Don’t Worry, I Already Know No One Thinks It’s Funny but Me

Ever since I was little, my dreams have often had titles and even, god help me, credits that roll at the beginning and end. This disturbs me, or it would if I didn’t also think it was kinda funny. I have dreamed such classics as “The Alligator Under the Sidewalk” and “The Haunted Omelet” (which was about a plate of spaghetti that was possessed by the devil). A few nights ago, I dreamed “The Sitcom at the End of the World.”

In the dream, a mom and a dad and their teenage daughter were walking past Milano’s on 9th Avenue (my favorite pizza place) right when the world ended, so they ran inside and hid in the restaurant’s basement with the Milano family. The two families survive somehow but everyone else on Earth is killed. (Before I go on, let me just say that I know only I would consider the apocalypse an appropriate “situation” for a situation comedy. I know. I just can’t help it.)

I discovered yesterday that the Bravo network is at this moment having a contest for new sitcom ideas. I am not going to enter it (because FantasyLand was like 3 exits back and I’m not turning around), but it got me thinking about what “The Sitcom at the End of the World” would actually be like. I’m pretty sure I would pitch it as (apologies to Jeff, as usual) “It’s like Gilligan’s Island meets The Diary of Anne Frank!”

I think the running gag in the show would have to be that all the adults would be constantly leaving the room to go have sex. It also occurred to me that the Milano family would have a teenage son. Plenty of WB Network-style teen romance potential with the other family’s daughter. But when the adults find out about the kids’ budding romance, they sit them down and tell them to hurry up and get on with it already because (and here’s the show’s catch phrase) “The Earth’s not gonna re-populate itself!”

Probably there will be other survivors discovered at some point and I haven’t worked out whether or not they can actually leave the basement to go get “supplies” or what have you. I guess they would have to though, unless there’s a secret tunnel to the Jamba Juice down the block so nobody would get scurvy in the third season. It turns out writing a TV pilot is hard. But I think the real lesson here is that we can all breathe a sigh of relief that I have no influence on TV programming whatsoever.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Failure of the Day: M. Night Shyamalan

Chris, in case you were wondering, is a genius. He's a certified IQ genius it's true, but that's not the kind I mean. I mean a psychic movie genius. At least he says he is. He says he figured out the twist of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs after seeing only the trailers for those films. So when he saw the trailer for The Village and proclaimed he already knew the twist of that movie as well, I figured it was time to put up or shut up. I had him write down the twist and seal it in an envelope.

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We drove up to the Century in Corte Madera to see it because it's a nice theatre and near the restaurant we wanted to go to for dinner.

It was a good movie. I liked it. Afterward, we went outside and I opened the envelope.

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Keep in mind that this is Chris's first go at using the digital camera in his new PDA and my first go at adding photos to my blog, and we are having varying degrees of success.

Suffice to say, what is written on this scrap of paper is the precise secret of The Village, in some detail. It's too blurry to read, but I prefer to think of it as courteously not creating an early spoiler.

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