…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Friday, June 30, 2006

scout says “nope” to dope

I have a confession to make. I find this very, very sexy:

I’ll surrender my lesbian card to the proper authorities if such lust sullies my integrity, but I can’t help myself.

The Tour de France begins tomorrow. Yay! And also, boo!

A doping scandal implicating a Spanish doctor and several superstar cyclists has cast a pall over pro cycling on the eve of its signature event. Incredibly, not one of the three riders who stood atop the podium at the conclusion of the 2005 Tour will race this year. Lance retired, and the second- and third-place finishers, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, respectively, were implicated in the doping dragnet. Just last month the thoroughly adorable and charming Basso won the Giro d’Italia, arguably the second-most important grand tour on the circuit. He dedicated his win, now tainted, to his recently deceased mother.

I understand the desire to take performance-enhancing drugs. Pro cycling is a brutal sport that requires long hours in the saddle and, as a result, a massively high pain threshold. The average person may be able to fold himself into the classic racing crouch, but holding it for five hours while pedaling at an average speed of 30 mph? That takes a special kind of determination and training. Your classic performance enhancers don’t so much give you a leg up on race day as they allow you to train longer and harder with less pain—they make you superhuman.

There are days on my bike when I feel bionic, and it’s an amazing feeling, like I could ride straight up a mountain and dance around on top. But most days I feel very, very human, with all the pain that entails. And it’s that essential humanness that makes us look upon professional athletes with awe, even idolatry. They seem heroic because they show us what the human body is capable of when pushed to its very limit, which is why it can be utterly heartbreaking to discover they weren’t so very human after all.

Cyclists who don’t use performance enhancers are harmed threefold: They’ve been denied an even playing field in past races by any number of dopers; every cyclist implicated for drug use casts doubt on the integrity of every other cyclist; and to further the insult, the eventual 2006 winner, a man who will have spent about 85 hours in the saddle to ride 2,261 miles over the course of 20 race days, will have a win with a mental asterisk denoting that he didn’t face the “real” competition—never mind that those guys cheated their way to past wins. And in a devastating turn, at least one leading contender who is innocent of drug use won’t be riding in the Tour because of the scandal: Alexandre Vinokourov won’t be allowed to compete because so many other riders on his team have been disqualified they don’t have enough men to field a regulation squad.

I’ll still be watching the TdF, mind you, and there are still plenty of well-toned calves that haven’t been disqualified to keep me happy, but the Tour is tainted for fans as well as riders. We’re so utterly human, and we thrive on success stories because they illustrate the art of the possible. But for heroes we’d best look to ourselves. Even if our “possible” doesn’t take us high into the Alps or sprinting through throngs of adoring fans, at least we know our victories are real.

*The calves featured in this entry belong to Levi Leipheimer and are in no way implicated in the doping scandal.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

road food

Don’t stop at the Denny’s in Buttonwillow.

Just because you remember a time when Denny’s was the last fork-and-knife sign for about a hundred miles of the most mind-numbingly boring stretch of Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco doesn’t mean that will be the case this trip. Remember, you thrive on mystery. Besides, people get killed at Denny’s. Also, Denny’s promotes the covering and smothering of perfectly innocent hash browns, an idea made even more horrifying by the fact that they stole it from the Waffle House. Stealing terrible ideas from other terrible restaurants sullies your cred, Denny’s. You can only coast on your Moons Over My Hammy® laurels for so long.

Just because you’re all proud of yourself for not stopping at Denny’s doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Resist with all your might the urge to stop at restaurants that make alluring promises on their signs, even if the gambit paid off at Max’s, where many, if not all, of the foods I’ve always wanted to eat were prepared tastefully. (What did "always" ever do to anybody to deserve its lowly uncapped status?)

It’s not fun to eat at Scrambl’z, not even if your tireless copyediting hard drive can spin down long enough to forgive the ambiguous ’z.

It’s not fun at all, and you’ll leave feeling like you may never want to eat again. But then you’ll remember that you bought some saltwater taffy at Casa de Fruta and decide that you may be able to choke down a piece or two.

Always stop at Andersen’s, and don’t order anything but the Hungry Traveler’s Special.

You’ll be tempted to step outside the warm embrace of pea soup, but the pea soup is canon—you’re at Pea Soup Andersen’s, silly—and if the first bowl leaves you wanting, the HTS is all about the refill. My limit is generally one and a half bowls, with practically a whole loaf of unstingily buttered pumpernickel. Mmm. Your HTS comes complete with beverage, and some otherwise sane adults may be tempted to order a milkshake just because they can. However fondly I remember the sweet and savory and altogether creamy delight of vanilla-milkshake-and-pea-soup goodness I enjoyed as I child, I’m cognizant of having failed to recapture that same bliss the last time I ordered a milkshake with my HTS, sometime in my 20s (I mature[d] slowly). If you have a full set of adult teeth, you’ll want to stick with a soda or hot beverage.

Finally, when you make it to San Francisco, go to Citizen Cake, or its little sister Citizen Cupcake, and get the Lovers’ Cake. Oh. My. God.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

gone to the dogs

The lesbian-killing dogs have come for us.

Just when we thought our neighborhood couldn’t get much seedier—what with our being regulars on the city’s graffiti-cleanup service—backyard dog breeders have moved in next door. We’re one cockfighting den, crystal meth lab, and hand basket away from the breaking loose of all hell.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We moved into a neighborhood which, while not glamorous, was characterized by optimistic Realtors as “improving.” Sure, our no-nonsense lesbian real estate agent warned us that a house abutting an apartment building and lacking a sidewalk invited a vague sort of trouble, not to mention lower-than-average property values for the Zip code. But it was precisely that crippled property value that brought the house within our financial reach, and given that we were then ourselves apartment dwellers we were willing to give the unpropertied the benefit of the doubt regarding their ability to live side-by-side with sophisticates like us.

Trouble of a less vague sort has arrived not in the form of apartment tenants but homeowners, or at the very least home dwellers, the kind who bark, bark, bark the night away, and presumably the day as well since their ire is particularly roused by our animal companion, Biscuit, who spends her days in the backyard, whimpering. This is Biscuit in happier times:

The next-door dogs moved in two weeks ago, into the backyard of a house that had been vacant since Mrs. Friend died six months ago. (We were charmed by the idea of a next-door neighbor named Mrs. Friend until we found her to be sour, demanding, and ungrateful; when we rebuilt the falling-down fence separating our two properties—a project for which we could have asked her to share the $1,200 expense but didn’t—her only comment was, “It’s about time.”) When we saw a U-Haul truck in her driveway two weekends ago we hoped for the best; the chances of our new neighbors being more personable than Mrs. Friend were at least 85%. I thought maybe I should take some cookies over and introduce myself, get things off on the right foot, but the thought, as so many others, failed to result in action. Now it’s two weeks after the U-Haul sighting and we still haven’t seen our new neighbors—none of the hominid variety anyway.

Our spectral neighbors’ first act of aggression was the clearing, via hired help, of Mrs. Friend’s bougainvillea, which had formerly climbed her back wall to a height of well over 10 feet. The impressive spray of purple flowers once camouflaged the concertina razor wire that rims the property line of the apartment building behind us: Whether it’s there to keep the tenants in or others out, the aesthetic smacks of prison yard. The yard crew also tore out a couple of small fruit trees.

But any palpable absence was forgotten once chain-link became visible over our fence line, and it didn’t take long to intuit that our new anti-foliage neighbors had built a kennel of some scope: Any pack of confined, agitated dogs can tell you that, and if we had been, by some miracle, able to ignore them, Biscuit would surely have alerted us.

The chain-link is an eyesore, and the incessant barking is a nuisance, but we would soon discover something far more insidious about the next-door dogs. When my partner peered over the fence to see just how many dogs had moved in, she saw three adults, one of whom is pregnant, and they aren’t just any dogs: They're Presa Canarios. This is what one looks like:

You may remember this once obscure breed from a 2001 wrongful death case. In January of that year two Presa Canarios had lunged at Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old athlete, trapping her in the doorway of the San Francisco apartment she shared with her girlfriend, and the larger of the two dogs, a 123-pound unneutered male named “Bane,” mauled her to death as a caretaker for the dogs, neighbor Majorie Knoller, reportedly stood by.

Knoller and her husband, Robert Noel, both of whom were then defense lawyers, were keeping the dogs on behalf of two Aryan Brotherhood prison inmates, Paul “Cornfed” Schneider and Dale Bretches, who, despite the inconvenience of serving life sentences without parole, were running a backyard breeding business, reportedly intending to supply the Mexican Mafia with fighters and guard dogs for meth labs and such. Bane was one of eight breeding Presa Canarios owned by the inmates, who farmed the care of the dogs out to various intermediaries. Knoller and Noel had taken in Bane and Hera—the second dog involved in the attack on Whipple—when another woman who had been caring for them complained that Bane was vicious and should be destroyed.

After the attack, Knoller and Noel might have had misgivings about ever getting involved in this mess, musing, How did two nice Jewish lawyers like ourselves get involved with an Aryan Brotherhood attack-dog racket that resulted in the death of a neighbor? As my therapist is fond of saying, “Those red flags you see aren’t there to cheer you to the finish line.” But where we see red flags, the Knoller-Noels saw an opportunity to bond: Three days after Whipple’s death, the couple adopted inmate–dog breeder Cornfed Schneider. He was 38.

Did I mention the bestiality? Cornfed reportedly circulated pics in prison of “Mom” in compromising positions with Bane, while “Dad” was said to have orally copulated with the dog. Unfortunately, any such evidence was barred from trial as irrelevant. The prosecution had to make do with their 30 witnesses who testified to having had terrifying encounters with Bane and Hera; in fact, had the victim been anyone but Whipple, she might have testified as well: Bane had bitten her before.

Despite the obvious charisma of the defendants, after 11 hours of deliberation the jury stoically delivered a guilty verdict. Noel, who wasn’t present during the attack, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Knoller was convicted of second-degree murder (this being only the third time in U.S. history a jury had handed down a murder conviction in a dog-mauling case), but the murder conviction was later thrown out and she served half of a four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. Both are now out on parole, perhaps living next door to us! Bane and Hera were destroyed in the wake of the attack, but their snarling progeny live on, no doubt seeking to avenge their wronged parents. Perhaps they’ve found their mark.

I’m not saying Presa Canario appetites are limited to lesbians, though the Knoller-Noels went for a Hail Mary and blamed the victim, saying the dogs may have been provoked by hormones or pheromones peculiar to Whipple. They might as well have claimed Whipple conjured the dogs’ ire through Voodoo. And the next-door dogs probably aren't kin to Bane and Hera after all. The popularity of the breed soared following the publicity surrounding the court case. Who wouldn’t want, as one breeder put it, “a pit bull on steroids”?

Well, I don’t. Nor do I want a pack of them living next door, which is to say nothing of Biscuit’s preferences. You see, Biscuit, while a very brave dog in the house, is a total sub bottom in the presence of other dogs. So while she knows in her heart that it’s her dog job to assert ownership over the backyard, and before the invasion of the next-door dogs she was as fierce as could be about enforcing her authority—by barking her little spaniel head off—whenever strangers loomed near, she now cowers and whimpers and tucks her tail whenever the other dogs bark, which is whenever she’s in the yard. As a result she’s become too anxious to do just about anything in her backyard: play ball, chase squirrels, eat, pee, etc. Again, here's Biscuit:

And here's a Presa:

So, to recap, Biscuit no longer has any fun in her backyard, and she’s courting kidney damage. And we would prefer not to be mauled.

So I’m dedicating myself to finding ways to get the dogs gone: noise ordinances, a maximum-dog-limit violation, owner negligence, anything. Maybe a nice, nice animal control officer, once summoned, can find illegal fight training implements or evidence of other mischief, like cockfighting, or a meth lab, or some of that legendary Presa-human canoodling. I officially don’t care. And if none of that works, perhaps puppies might enjoy an amuse-bouche of Snausage with shaved white truffle and antifreeze zest?*

*I would never harm an animal, ever, no matter how mean and snarly it is. This line is for comedic purposes only.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

electoral college flunkies

“I think we should volunteer as poll workers for the next election,” I announced to my partner Tuesday night after we voted* in the California primary.

*Or maybe we didn't vote. No, we definitely voted. But our votes might not count, contrary to the popular slogan.

For the first time in my 20 years as a registered voter, I seem to have fallen through the cracks, the cavernous faults, in the system—my partner too, the both of us. Neither of our names were anywhere to be found on the roster at our polling place, the same polling place that has received us for every other election in the four years since we moved into our house, which also seems to have been sucked into a time-space vortex: Our address couldn't be located on the Roster of Last Resort, where poll workers can do a reverse lookup to try to match an eligible precinct property with its disappeared residents. But even our house wasn't eligible to vote; our address was within the precinct boundaries, but it may as well have been in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Funny, that, because the Democratic Party certainly knows where we live. We've been wallpapered with mail urging us to vote this way then that in the ridiculously close gubernatorial primary. We also received our sample ballots, complete with the address of our polling place in the Twilight Zone, an otherwise bland elementary school auditorium. The Dems know our phone number too. Assemblywoman and state senate hopeful Cindy Montañez's minions called so many times I was ready to tell them that even though I had long ago decided to vote for her, if they called one more time, I would break ranks and join the Peace and Freedom Party—because they have the nicest logo.

So, what happened? We got all the mailings and fielded all the phone calls, but we were unlisted come election day. Did Bush manage to pass some last-minute secret legislation barring the gays from voting? Imagine the scramble to scrub all those names from the rolls. And what of closeted people? Ferreting all those folks out would demand a level of forensic aptitude similar to that of the hanging-chad posse. When I mentioned my Bushwhacked theory to a bisexual friend she asked whether her vote would only be counted as half, or maybe it would count fully, but only when dating a man—or, presumably, thinking lustily after one.

We voted “provisionally,” which made me feel like a bad voter, like I had let my subscription to Democracy lapse or something. I kept telling poll workers—who numbered 10 at my precinct, fully two of whom were working in any meaningful way—that this had never happened to me, that I had always been on the roster before. I grew especially defensive when asked whether I had voted in the last election. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I pride myself on coming back again and again, bravely voting for the candidates who never win. When I fall off a horse, I climb back on immediately—or maybe a couple years later when the next election calls, once my internal bleeding has stopped and my scars have begun to tan and my therapist tells me it's safe to feel hope again.

We had pink ballots, and pink envelopes to put them in, lending credence to the antigay idea—all those pink envelopes going straight to the shredder. Confused about what to do with them in the meantime, the poll worker who accepted ours tossed them onto a messy pile atop the table—not a pile of other pink envelopes, mind you, just a pile of random crap. Near the pile of crap sat a woman working the roster; she seemed deeply confused by the alphabet, smiling as voters said their names then blankly leafing through her log as if it were a picture book. While we were there, not a single voter's name was located without their intensive assistance—“Go back a page. Go back another page. There, I'm three from the top…there [pointing at name].” Another man sitting at the table was charged with presenting to each voter his or her partisan ballot. Though he had only five possibilities in front of him and the vast majority of voters identified more narrowly as Democrat or Republican, he was vexed by the presence of Green, Libertarian, and Peace and Freedom Party ballots. He kept handing them to people, hoping to get lucky.

Early morning confusion? Nah. We voted after work; it was 7 p.m. And the polling place wasn't busy either. California posted a voter turnout of around 30%. (Has W. been nothing if not a cautionary tale about the consequences of electoral complacency?)

Worried about the future of our pink ballots, we sought the most competent poll worker in the room and asked if our envelopes, having been tossed onto a table, had been handled properly. She rolled her eyes, clearly not for the first time that day, and retrieved them, assuring us that she would take care of them. She gave us slips of paper with a number we could call in 30 days to make sure our vote was counted. It's not clear what, if anything, could be done at that 30-day mark if we found that our ballots had been thrown out, but she seemed like a good cookie, so we entrusted our pinks to her and left the precinct.

“That was a fiasco,” I said to my partner as we were leaving.

“Yeah, but they made damn sure I got my 'I Voted' sticker,” she grumbled.

Come to think of it, poll workers do seem awfully focused on sticker-giving. Is that emphasized in poll-worker training? Maybe Democracy is a sham and we're being bought off with penny stickers to think we're somehow participants in this thing.

I know that polling places are manned by volunteers, and that precinct crews are cobbled together from a coalition of the willing, but is it so much to ask that they also be a coalition of the able?

Polling places used to be run, it seemed, entirely by retirees, and while our elders often exhibited, say, a lack of urgency about their duties—and sometimes a dash of officiousness since, after all, it had been years since anyone had actually listened to them when told what to do—they usually knew what their duties were by the time we were an hour or so into the morning hours. I miss the olds! They were cute in their little red-white-and-blue-banded Styrofoam boaters, sitting behind card tables with patriotic bunting. And they volunteered, I imagined, because it seemed to them important and fun at the same time.

By contrast, Tuesday's poll workers acted as though they had pulled short straws and had gone on intellectual strike to protest their lot. Why else would someone pretend not to know the alphabet? I wonder how many tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of votes are mishandled and invalidated in elections because poll workers don't know what they're doing. Or don't care. Maybe Election 2000 wasn't so fluky after all.

I bristle a little bit whenever I hear someone joke that juries are made up of 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty. I think jury duty is important and I really don't mind doing it, and I don't think that makes me stupid. Maybe it's time I felt the same way about working the polls. Elections, however sparsely attended in the U.S., are important: Do I really want my vote handled by someone who can't pick a Democratic ballot out of a lineup?

The Election Assistance Commission, whose slogan is “Making every vote count”—all this emphasis on our votes “counting” raises a red flag or two for me—lists Chris Walker at the Office of the Secretary of State, (916) 653-7244, as my contact should I want to pursue becoming a poll worker in California. Following his contact information are the words “Languages Needed: None.” It's all coming clear to me now.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


In my last entry I freely admitted that I suck for failing to discuss with my EEG tech, “Misty,” the immediate dangers of greenhouse gasses, despite Al Gore’s well-reasoned entreaties to help spread the word. Then Friday morning I bore witness to the awfulness that is this billboard at fourfour.

I want to be part of the solution. Really, I do. Which is why I now realize I can no longer keep silent about a social ill that has recently seeped into my consciousness: Insulair™ Coffee Cups To Go!

OK, this just pisses me off. I understand that we’re a go-go society, that we have meetings to catch and deadlines to meet, that the habit of drinking a cup of coffee while skimming the morning paper died when I Love Lucy went off the air. I get it.

I also came to understand long ago that coffee mugs don’t travel well. This when my mother, apparently after years of psychic torture, let slip a whiff of displeasure at my father’s habit of microwaving a cup of Yuban instant for the road then driving to their destination at a steady crawl of 10 miles an hour to avoid spillage. One night as Dad watched the carousel turn round and round, waiting for the ding of doneness, my mother hissed at me through gritted teeth, “He knows we’re late for bowling.”

Finally, I understand all too well that a daily Starbucks stop can get pricey. I’ve lately been weighing the financial pros and cons of taking mass transit to work. I save $70 per month in payroll parking deductions, plus another $40 or more in gas for my relatively fuel-efficient coupe. But subtract $52 for my monthly Metro pass and another $50 in Starbucks expenses (because I can’t bring food or drink on the bus and the coffee brewed at my workplace is soul-destroyingly weak) and I’m saving a grand total of eight bucks. Plus that whole ozone thingy, which brings me back to my point.

Travel mugs, people! They’re nice. They keep our coffee warmer longer. Hell, I’ve been known to drink from mine all morning, break for lunch, and revisit it afterward—only to find my coffee still retaining heat! (My partner thinks I'm courting bacterial distress since I drink my brew with milk, but so far, so good.)

I can understand why folks who buy their morning fix at the coffee house might balk at the idea of carrying a travel mug to and from work—though Starbucks’ll hit you with a 10-cent cup-saver discount if you do! But thinking back to the days when I wasn’t considered too damaged to drive and was decanting a home brew strong enough to slough my stomach lining, I can’t imagine a circumstance under which I would have wanted faux café cups—unless maybe I knew my property was being eyed for the next city landfill and I naïvely thought there were sweet, sweet profits to be made.

Given that most regular readers of my blog are far better people than I when it comes to thinking globally, I know I’m hitting the wrong demographic here, just as Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is likely to be seen overwhelmingly by greenish Democratics for whom the 2000 election decision was at least as bitter a defeat as it was for Gore himself. But what surprises me most about faux café cups is that it’s not just the environmentally insensitive big-box stores selling these things: I saw Insulair™ 10-packs this week at Whole Foods, right next to the Planet green cleaning products.

Before we start a letter-writing campaign to ask Whole Foods to stop carrying Insulair™ Coffee Cups To Go! let’s give the product literature a chance to make its case:

“Drink Through Dome Lid provides leak-resistant secure fit.”

My Cup™ has a secure lid too, vacuum-sealed even. (On a copyediting note, they could afford a hyphen in “leak-resistant” but not “Drink Through”?)

“Triple Wall Cup for extra strength and sturdiness to-go.”

My Cup™ is sturdy, so sturdy that it doesn’t have to be thrown away after one use. (“To-go” doesn’t even need a hyphen here and they still deprived “Triple Wall” of one.)

“Channels of Air provide insulation to keep drinks hot and protect hands.”

I’ve never known air to keep anything hot.

“Paper Construction creates a true coffee house experience, and it's disposable.”

Well, I’m all for disposable coffee house experiences, but I think we’re putting a lot of pressure on these cups if we’re looking to them to provide plushy seats and pretentious patrons too. They do come with Wi-Fi, right?

“Tapered Base easily fits into car cup holders.”

This is listed under “patented features.” Does My Cup™ know it’s in violation of a patent?

“No cup sleeve to get in the way!”

I never knew cup sleeves to be a pox on humanity. At any rate, My Cup™ doesn’t have or need one either.

Only one reason remains why coffee drinkers may prefer the Insulair™ Coffee Cups To Go! to My Cup™: infantilization. The classic paper-and-plastic assemblage we’ve been sucking on since the dawn of the latter coffee house boom of the ’90s has become as comforting to us as a mother’s teat, a bona fide adult sippy cup. No wonder we can’t let go.

Step away from the seductive Drink Through Dome Lid. Liberate yourselves from the culture of disposability. The young sippy-cup sippers of the world thank you in advance for your efforts.

Whew! That really took a load off my conscience. Now back to my regularly scheduled programming of tiresome self-obsession.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

do try this at home

I look spectacularly silly right now. Like I’ve been made up—by grade-schoolers—to play a character with a massive head injury in a school play. I’m not sure what kind of elementary school pageant would call for a character with a massive head injury. Maybe I’m playing a Sikh.

I’m in the midst of my continuous EEG, which, thank Jesus, is being conducted in the comfort of my home. It turns out Kaiser has a “to go” option, so I went in yesterday afternoon to get wired up by a bubbly tech we’ll call “Misty.”

Misty knows lesbians! She told me about them after I used the word “partner” and the pronoun “she” in the same sentence. From then on much of what I had to say drew inevitable comparisons to Misty’s lesbian neighbors, with whom I didn’t feel much simpatico, at least from what Misty had to say about them.

I liked Misty, even though we didn't seem to share much common-ground acreage ourselves. When she asked me what I had done over the Memorial Day weekend I told her that I had seen the Al Gore movie.

“Oh, yeah, how was that?” she asked, marking my scalp for electrode placement.

“Not exactly the feel-good hit of the summer, but definitely worth seeing,” I said. “You know, if you don’t mind adding global warming to your list of worries.”

“It’s a different world out there now, isn’t it,” she said, shaking her head.

Actually, the primary point of the film is that we are and always have been our own worst enemies, that our boogeymen du jour merely divert attention from our ongoing self-destruction. But I wasn’t sure I needed to have a potentially distracting conversation with someone who was now attaching electrodes to my head. (See, I’m already failing to live up to my responsibility—articulated during the end credits of the film—to talk to everyone I know about the immediate dangers of global warming. I suck.)

When I say she was “attaching” electrodes to my head, I’m talking about capital-A Attachment. For my first EEG I had some putty-like stuff on my scalp, but this time Misty was adding a layer of adhesive—after assuring me that my hair wouldn’t be ripped out during removal—that smelled like model cement and made my eyes burn.

“Do you ever worry that you’re doing permanent damage to yourself by working with that stuff all day?” I asked.

“I kinda do,” she said casually. “I’ve read reports that claim it’s totally safe, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not. I don’t think you need to worry about one application, though.”

“Oh, I’m not worried about myself,” I insisted. “But you don’t want to become one of your own patients.”

“That’s for sure,” she said. (Hey!) “Close your eyes for a minute while I do the front ones.”

She didn’t need to tell me twice. I shut my eyes tight. “Of course, if you look at it another way, you get to huff on the job,” I joked, inhaling a little myself.

When I said I smelled like a nail salon Misty said, “No joke. They used to use acetone to get it off, so if I leave any glue behind tomorrow, you can totally use nail polish remover to clean yourself up.”

Ah, the low-tech fix.

After about an hour of placing electrodes and shellacking my scalp, Misty said it was time to wrap me up. As she winched gauze tightly around my head I told her that when Jayne Brooke was having a continuous EEG on Grey’s Anatomy she got to wear a stylish black skullcap over her electrodes. Misty snorted in response and added more gauze.

It’s now T minus 30 minutes to removal, or at least my ride to removal. My partner had to attend commencement today, leaving me mighty afeard I might have to ride the bus to the hospital, but my friend S generously offered to take the afternoon off work to give me a ride. I’m not sure I can express how very grateful I am for this, both because it’s just plain nice to be treated with such kindness and because I was having visions of my freaky self on the bus with my head full of electrodes and gauze, looking for all the world like a patient gone AWOL—you know, blending with my fellow passengers.

So I’m off to see Misty, and when I return I’ll no longer look like a post-op neurosurgery patient. And I'll no longer have to carry around my bulky brain-wave recorder. And I can take a shower! All good things.