June 2004 Archives

I had the day off from work today, a day owed to me due to my working through the Reagan Memorial Day that state employees received earlier in the month. Even in death, Ronald Reagan managed to cut government services one final time. My office manager announced that those of us who had to come to work on the national day of heavily orchestrated mourning could take a different day off later, to honor whoever we wanted. She herself was taking the following Wednesday, "in honor of Ray Charles."

Rather than devoting my thoughts to the Gipper, I spent the day thinking about the Gimper. That is to say, my mom, who was going under the knife once again today. This time, she was having her kneecap removed, above the artificial knee she got two years ago. Her sensitive, caring children like to call it her "pretend knee".

The procedure was designed to reduce knee pain, though the surgeon admitted he'd never done it in these particular circumstances before. Kneecap removals, we learned, are not usually a part of the knee replacement process. These procedures are generally reserved for gunshot victims or the recipients of Mafia violence. Maybe Mom has been spending too much time at the track, I mused.

God knows the woman loves her TLC makeover shows, so I harbor suspicions that it was a purely cosmetic decision. I became wary when the initial knee replacement was done by two of our neighbors, who took two entire days to get the job done, though they did stay within their thousand-dollar budget. Mom was pretty surprised afterward, let me tell you. Clearly, the old kneecap was totally out of style with the rest of the new knee, and arguably a legitimate fashion emergency.

My sisters and I tried to be as sympathetic as possible as the surgery date neared, never asking directly about the provisions of Mom's will, or if she'd get to keep the kneecap in a little plastic jar afterward. (The wire she had removed in the last surgery is still a legendary item, though my suggestions to turn it into a Christmas tree ornament have received a lukewarm reception so far) Megan called Mom the night before to ask if she could have her aquamarine ring if anything went wrong. Kelly broke into the conversation, declaring that she was staying the night at Mom and Dad's to be a source of comfort, and to make sure she knew where the good jewelry was hidden. She also added, "Sucka!"

All black comedy aside, I spent the day very worried about Mom. Would she be OK? Would the procedure work? Would she embarrass the family by speaking in a British accent under the influence of sedatives? My anxiety grew when her surgery was delayed, because someone got "stabbed" and needed "life-saving surgery" or they would "die". Whatever, Kaiser Permanente.

Finally, they took her into the operating room in the late afternoon. There was a strong sense of relief all around, and not just because her complaining ended. When they wheeled her out in the evening, she met Dad with an anxious look, full of questions about those she truly cared about.

"Who's winning the Giants game?" she asked.

"Giants, 1-0," he answered.

"Who's pitching?"


She frowned. "No, he's not. He pitched this weekend against the A's."

And then I knew she was going to be alright. That is, unless she had money on the game, which the Giants' craptastic bullpen blew in the bottom of the eighth. If so, there's no telling what those Mafia animals might do to her this time. I should start searching the house for jewelry right away.



Zembla has new friends, now visible on the "Outsiders" section of the links. Click to explore the short films of Australian media superstar Dan Ilic, the occasionally-movie-tagline-obsessed writings of former Squelch editor and Berkeley expatriate Kenny Byerly, the street-smart courage journalizing of fellow Fitzpadrick associate and Mike Pagliarulo admirer Brian Dermody, and the library-and-bling-based writing of Heuristic Squelch alumnus Cynthia.

Also, fans of discount baseball and smuggled hard alcohol should take note of the Two Dollar Wednesday Baseball mailing list. The Oakland A's offer two-dollar tickets and dollar hot dogs for Wednesday home games, and we cheap bastards like to take advantage of the promotion. They've scheduled a lot of the games in the afternoon this year, so the list will also announce and coordinate non-Wednesday baseball outings. I think there's a promotion that involves Mountain Dew cans and an absence of personal dignity that will also give you cheap tickets.

Ten days ago, there was a tremendous Two Dollar Wednesday game, as the A's defeated the Cincinnati Reds 17-8. For those of you scoring at home, that works out to twenty-five cents per run. If that weren't enough value, Oakland starter Rich Harden entered the K ZONE!!! by striking out eight batters in his 5 1/3 innings of work. As a result, each fan won a free two-liter bottle of soda. It's like they're paying you to come to the games! Get in on the action while it's still ice-cold and carbonated, dammit.

It's good to have Zembla back up and running, especially with link-heavy entries that let me feel like I'm doing a lot of writing, even though I'm mostly just typing. But, as Mao Tes-tung famously blogged, "The journey of a thousand characters begins with a single keystroke. C U L8R."

David Foster Wallace speaks tonight at the Swedish-American Hall, and I am so there. So is Kristen. In the past, I have attended these readings with the same mindset as attending a rock concert. Because Neal Pollack actually is a rock star, this attitude has served me well. But for David Foster Wallace, is the classic white t-shirt, replete with hand-scrawled slogan, the best way to go?

On a side note, I think that authors really should try to make their appearances more like rock shows. As a former amateur stand-up comic, I know from experience that these kind of performances go a lot better when the crowd is drinking. If nothing else, the writers should sell t-shirts, keychains, posters, thongs, anything that will move. People coming to these sort of events probably already have the author's most recent work - book sales aren't the way to clean up. Besides, book sales are just going to feed some fat corporation's profits. As any indie rocker could tell you, the merch is where the real money comes in.

For Mr. Foster Wallace, I considered a few different slogans:

"The T-Shirt of the Trial-Sized Dove Bar"
"Curious Boy With Ordinary Hair"
"Wheelchair Assassins, West Coast Chapter"

And, of course:

"David Foster Wallace Is A Son Of A Bitch"

None of these seemed that great. I didn't have too many spare shirts. And, more importantly, I realized that I'm probably not going to meet him at this event, which is for the best, because I figure he's a little high-strung, what with the obsession with word usage and refusal to fly on airplanes.

I thought, "What would David Foster Wallace himself do, faced with this dilemma?" Then it came to me. Just like he did when he neared the thousand-page mark of Infinite Jest, I would simply stop. So, if you see me tonight, strolling towards Cafe Du Nord, remember that I'm wearing normal clothing, not because I was too lazy to actually make a t-shirt, but because life itself is incomplete.

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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