Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Joys of Humanhood (based on a dream I had last night)

Halfway through the second syringe of blood, emptying into the vein in the back of his mouth, Dennis's eyes widened suddenly and his stomped his foot against the floor. Of course, Dr. Shultz couldn't stop until the syringe was empty, and then he drew the needle out, pulled back his gloved hand from deep within the vampire's mouth and waited for him to speak.

"What," Dennis gasped out, cletching his chest. "Is that?"

The other vampires, who had already received the second infusion nodded. They probably had also had the question, but Dennis was the leader and they usually let Dennis speak first.

"It's probably your heart starting up again," Dr. Shultz explained. "It may be a little rusty, so the first few pumps can be surprising."

"But it's so loud," Dennis insisted. "I mean, I can hear it. Can you all hear it?" He looked around at the small cadre of vampires. "I can hear all of theirs."

"It's just because you're not used to it," said Dr. Shultz. "It will begin to fade into the background and you won't notice it."

"Hard to believe that! Not notice this thumping--and the breathing?" Dennis rolled his eyes and the other vampires nodded their assent, adding their own low murmurs to support him. "Really, I feel like I have to shout over the noises of my own body."

Dr. Shultz smiled to himself. He was looking forward to explaining flatulence to the vampire, but that would have to be a later lesson in being human. "This must be very exciting for you, I'm sure, but we're not quite done yet; we have one more infusion to go before you are fully and genuinely human. Now do you need just one moment to catch your newly found breath, or are you ready for the last needle?"

"Of course, of course, doctor, you must be on a schedule--trying to rush us out like this...what is it? Do you have another appointment of vampires coming in later? Or perhaps something much more important than just a handful of supernatural immortals?" Dennis could mock if he wanted, but he was still one injection away from being human again, so he left it at that and let Dr. Schultz change gloves and begin once more to empty enormous syringes of stale blood into thin vein behind the palentine velum.

As with the first two injections, this one went rather smoothly, except for one instance when the gag reflex of young teenage vampire unexpected kicked in and Dr. Shultz found himself sprayed in the face with who-knows-what kind of stomach content. The poor girl apologized profusely afterwords, by the dumbstruck expressions on the faces of the other vampires lightened the mood for him immensely as he wiped off his face and explained that it was quite all right, just a natural reaction, probably should have expected it. The last two left looked terrified that the same thing would happen to them, but they couldn't back out with Dennis already having received the third transfusion.

In fact, Dennis was already walking slowly around the office, picking up tongue despensors, cotton balls, glossy brochures and rubbing them between his fingers. "This is incredible," he said while Dr. Shultz was just finishing up the last injection. "Who knew that humans could feel so much?"

"You probably could have guessed; after all, you were human once. You've probably just forgotten it."

Dennis scoffed lowly while running his fingertips down a glass cabinet. "'I was human once.' I doubt it, or if I was, I've long forgotten it."

Dr. Shultz drew out the needle somewhat hastily and the vampire whose mouth he was in uttered an impromptu "Ow!" and then, startled, looked around at the others for approval. "Sorry about that," Shultz said to him, then turned to Dennis. "Well, you'll probably be remembering it soon. Being human will come back to you--like riding a bike."

"I never ride bikes," Dennis said. Pretentious undead git.

"Anyway, these next couple of days should be fun. You'll learn what it's like to be human--perhaps not a dashing and mysterious as a vampire, but it has its perks." He opened his filing cabinet and took out a stack of taupe-colored pages. He had made these up himself last night in preparation and, because he had a sense of humor, he used the same format on his computer that he used to explain mono and strep throat to patients. "These sheets should explain some of your follow-up concerns about rejoining the human race." He handed one to each of the vampires who immediately began studying it. "If you have any major concerns, of course, don't hesitate to call me on my cell--I've included the number on the bottom--but do consider first checking this sheet and observing those around you: many things you find strange may be quite natural after all."

"We know more about humans that you think we do," Dennis said. "We do have quite...intimate association with your people."

Dr. Shultz surpressed a shudder from the chill in Dennis' voice, but he smiled cheerily. "I'm sure you do. Speaking of which, now that you're off a ...liquid diet, you might enjoy engaging in the process of eating. I think you'll find it one of the more pleasant surprises of being human. I highly recommend Blue Tree Place on 8th--it's a nice west coast fusion place that will let you spread a little of that long-hoarded cash around."

Some of the vampires were taking notes, but Dennis caught the hint and went to his bag to removed a stack of bills. "I hope this will be sufficient for your efforts, doctor. We'll see you again in a few days, yes?"

"Yes, I hope so. Take care of yourselves out there: it's a dangerous world and, after all, you're only human."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Crass and Tawdry in Los Vegas

After my first trip to Los Vegas, I came home and bore my testimony about how if there can be a beautiful, holy temple in crass and tawdry Los Vegas, any of us can keep ourselves pure and unspotted from the world. Unfortunately, all anyone remembers of that testimony is that I used the words "crass" and "tawdry." The guy in my ward who's from Los Vegas still gives me greif over it.

But you know what? I'm sticking with crass and tawdry. A couple of girls in DC got asked to drinks at a nightclub after repeated (and falsely) insisting that they were 17-year-olds from Arizona. Another person in our group was asked if she had an ecstasy to share with her interlocutor. The streets here are literally paved with porn and I can't begin to describe the t-shirts they sell here. Even the things that are beautiful--the Bellagio fountains, Caesar's palace, the rainstorm in the middle of the Miracle Mile Shops--are all facades, spectacle built on and supporting of greed, lust, and selfishness.

But I know that there's a lot of good here. Here's something: I got a temporary henna tattoo at one of the storefronts out in front of the Travelodge from a guy that I'm willing to describe as "sketchy." He wore a straw-snakeskin cowboy hat and had tattoos (real ones) snaking down his arms and crawling up his neck. In his garbage were several empty cans of alcopop and I could smell in on his breath as he leaned over my shoulder to trace my bird in ink. He kept muttering, giving low, repeating groans, and, while I can't prove that they were track marks, he definitely had a couple of dots of blood over veins on the top of his arms, which I know from physiology is a next step once your inner arms are scarred up.

Yet, maybe it was the fact that he was working on a part of my shoulder that few people see, much less touch, but I really felt a deep kinship with this guy. I could even say I love him, in that vague, undirected, love-of-humanity kind of way. What I really want to do is tell him that he's a son of God, who lived in the presence of God and was sent by God's love to earth. I want to tell him that he will live forever. But this is crazy stuff--this is what street preachers do. I don't even have, for example, a Book of Mormon to give him, not even a passalong card. I kind of have in my mind that I'll write him a thank-you note for the good job (and free touch up) he did on my temptatt and drop in there how loved he is of God but I don't even know his name. And I am scared.

But all of these people here, even the crass and tawdry ones, down inside, they have souls. That's pretty wonderful.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Carpe Thursday

Margaret brought this to my attention, which made me start thinking about day-seizing. Thursday, perhaps. I got out my "Winter 2010 Schedule" Word document and figured that I could spare Thursday afternoons and evenings between 12 and 8 for wild shenanigannism and hijinks.* I started making a list in my planner of things I was to seize from my diem: peaks I haven't hiked, pedicures I haven't gotten, and a lot of International Cinema I've missed. This year I'll do the things I want.

Then I started thinking about the things I've done this year. I've pretty much been doing what I want all along. I have this year

...kayaked in the Potomac around Roosevelt Island,

...spent a few days in Tempe with Jen and Paul on a whim (And went to the No Doubt concert while there),

...went to a Gogol Bordello concert with Jen and Linsey,

...gone to Disneyland for my birthday--and on a a school day too!

...been ice skating, played racquetball, took a Hip Hop Hustle aerobics class, and learned to play tennis,

...invented an imaginary roommate, outfitted her room and pranked Heather for more than 2 weeks into thinking "Amber Cox" was real, and then

...adopted a "memorial flowerbed" on Center Street in honor of aforementioned fake roommate,

...doorbell-ditched a lot of cookies, flowers and soup at my neighbors' houses,

...went caroling along the street and at the widows/widowers in my ward (with treats, too!),

...took a run down to the cemetery on Halloween day--in costume,

...held a talent show at the Old Folks' Home wherein I participated in several talents, including a Coke-bottle choir,

... went to a Pilgrim Feast on Thanksgiving and a cabin retreat for Christmas (thanks Mom!)

...wrote a novel and

... bought a new,shiny, superlight laptop.

On the flip side I still have my peer review research, RMMLA paper, thesis and Dr. Wimmer's project to do. So may its time I stop gathering rosebuds and make sure that I'm getting the haymaking done.