Seven Drunken Pirates, Seven Deadly Sins, Seven(ish) Weeks Ahead

I admit, I felt a little bit like a heathen on Ash Wednesday.

Instead of going to church or receiving ashes, I went to….a Flogging Molly concert.

Of course, I have always held some fundamental Presbyterian discomfort about Ash Wednesday. Or Lent in general. All the self-flagellation! All the ash that gets in my hair! All the guilt, all the fishsticks on Fridays! When I look around, I see a lot of people who give up stuff for Lent, with scant spiritual benefit. One friend told me that she gave up masturbation one year…and spent the Saturday night before Easter in bed with an issue of Playgirl, counting the minutes until midnight. Does neglecting Mrs. Rosy and her five daughters really lead to unity with the divine? (I don’t know, but I do know this: I was thinking about Lent this Sunday during church, and recalled said friend just as our pastor said, “Lent begins with Ash Wednesday….and climaxes with Easter.” Your immature blogger extraordinaire had to chomp on her knuckles to keep from snorting.)

So I hit the Hammerstein Ballroom on Ash Wednesday instead, accompanying my friend V., a devoted Flogging Molly fangirl. And it was GLORIOUS. Punk isn’t really my scene, so aside from a few casual listens to the CDs that V gave me, I wasn’t familiar with their music. But the high energy of the band and the crowd had me bouncing along and singing to whatever words I could catch. When we weren’t dodging the mosh pit roiling right next to us, anyways.

At a more sedate moment.
At a more sedate moment. Image courtesy of

Dave King is a terrific frontman, performing with gusto and punctuating the show with lots of anecdotes (including a crack about….all of us heathens who weren’t at church for Ash Wednesday). And funnily enough, he shares a name with an Irish friend of mine. Whom I met…in line for admission to an Irish band’s show. (Three guesses as to which one.)

The whole show captured what I love best about a good concert– the mix of the corporeal and spiritual. Bodies bumping against each other, dancing to the music, the sweat, the electricity, the euphoria, the snap of community when everyone is crowded together, singing the same song. It’s pure, natural joy. You couldn’t have slapped the grin off my face. Or flogged it off.

But I’m looking for that connection to the spiritual in me, longer lasting than a three-hour show and more fulfilling than an awkward worship service. So my goal for Lent is to spend more time with God. Really with God, not just a “Wassup, nice to see you here!” on Sunday mornings. An adding on rather than giving up. Things in my church are chaotic and painful at the moment, so the time is ripe to shift the focus away from the Christian community and towards the individual relationship I have with this amazing, perplexing, infuriating, giving God.

No fishsticks.

And probably no moshing, either.


S*** Patients Say, #2

….literally. I called my old man from a couple weeks ago:

Old man: Did I go back to the doctor? Oh yes! They took an X-ray of my stomach. Do you know why I was having so much pain? They told me I was full of POOP! So I took some….what is it? Maalox? Meltamix? Metamucil! And I feel all better now!

Fun fact of the day: Clozapine, an anti-psychotic medication, can cause feculent vomitus and….wait for it…..lethal constipation. Read about it here:

Sounds like a pretty crappy way to die.

Valentine’s Day, Part 2: Waltzin’

Do you need a paramour in order to have a good Valentine’s Day? Perhaps. I’ve had a handful of marvelous February 14ths surrounded by friends (most notable: with 75 APO brothers at Serve in Philadelphia, in 2009). But having one sure does make it nice….nicer than last year’s, anyways, in which I was recently rejected and did nothing except sit in bed, eat cheese, and listen to U2 bootlegs.

(Don’t even ask how many Friday nights I have done just that. I’m like the rock and roll version of a crazy cat lady.)

So this year, I had a date. But before that, I had an intimate evening of heavy breathing with my TNT teammates. 400M hill repeats, oh joy! You’d think, after running up and down Prospect Park’s north hill hundreds of times in the years that I’ve lived in Brooklyn, that it would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, gravity’s ability to both keep the planets in orbit and kick my ass never falters. But that’s the only way you make progress, right? Right….hills be damned.

Then, after a Superman lite quick change in the bathroom of the store where we stash our bags, I transformed from Sweaty Running Caroline to……well, Slightly Less Sweaty But Disguised With Perfume Dancing Caroline. Straight after practice I was headed out to a ball!

Thanks to our teammate Aimee for snapping the photo.

With hottie teammate and fellow quick-change artist Gina

A ball. A real, honest-to-goodness ball. A Waltz Ball, to be exact. I had heard about it from an email list I’m on that consists entirely of offbeat events taking place throughout the city. And lucky me, there was a gentleman I had been out with a few times before who was down for a little social dance. (“I might need some coaching with the waltz, so bear with me,” he said. “It’s three steps and turning in circles,” I told him. “Just don’t break my toes, okay?” He said he’d look up ‘how to waltz’ videos on Youtube. How thoughtful.)

So I went to one of Brooklyn’s many industrial graveyards, wandered through a couple of warehouse complexes, and then managed to find the enormous warehouse-turned-art-studio where this ball took place. I think there was one space heater for the whole place, so I spent a long time crouched on the first step of a makeshift treehouse, coat over my bare legs, squeezing my sore calves and wondering 1. how much of a workout waltzing was going to be after those hill repeats, and 2. when the hell my date was going to show up so that I could steal his coat as well.

But then he finally found the warehouse, and brought me a Valentine’s Day rose……so I really couldn’t steal his coat after that.

The Waltz Ball was started by a few artists and musicians, and so it had a sweet and quirky vibe throughout. We were instructed to take dance cards, affix them to our wrists, mix & mingle, and then request dances with people by writing out names in their card. Did they actually do this in social dances of yore? I have no idea. Did people actually use these at our ball?

Poor neglected dance card

….Yeah, no idea. I grabbed a pencil and declared myself Loverboy’s dance partner, and we pretty much forgot about the cards after that.

They had a string quartet playing an assortment of waltzes, from funky contemporary dances to the classic Tennessee Waltz. There was a Cupid with a clown nose, skating around on rollerskates and ordering people to dance. Off in one corner was a kissing booth….made out of an old refrigerator box. They had a makeshift bar selling Guinness in cans and handmade orange-ginger chocolates. We all took an intermission from dancing to watch a firebreather and aerial dancers, swooping around the random treehouse in the middle of the floor.

But mostly we danced– clumsily at first, but with more finesse as the night went on. He only stepped on my toes once….but then bought me Guinness to make up for it. Booze aside, it all felt delightfully reminiscent of Delta, my “alternative” high school. Amusing costumes, offbeat decorations, strange people, good times, and a chance to indulge in some un-self-conscious silliness. Far more charming than hill repeats…..or spending Valentine’s Day reliving my last Bruce Springsteen concert and being FOREVER ALOOOOONE.

Monsieur Dance Partner and I tried to snap a photo, but in the low lighting none of them turned out. Here's the most artistically terrible shot.

And of course, having such a fine gentleman as a date made all the difference. {No comment on making out in a refrigerator box, though…..that’s something everyone should experience for themselves!} Apparently he had a good time, too, because we’re going out again. And what, pray tell, will our next date be?

We’re going to see Phantom Menace in 3D this week.


Valentine’s Day, Part 1: My Stalker

I have a stalker.

I mean the nice, generally innocuous, roll-your-eyes-and-move-on sort of stalker, not the creepy, restraining order, oh-God-can’t-leave-the-house-without-Mace type. He is a strange old man of presumably Asian descent. I say ‘presumably’ because…I’ve never actually met him in person. He somehow found my work number this fall and has been calling me on a weekly basis since then.

Given that he’s a funny old Asian man, I’ll call him Pai Mei:

picture courtesy of Google Image search magic.

Pai Mei, he of "Kill Bill" fame (one of my faves)

He called me no less than 3 times last Monday, Valentine’s Day Eve. The first time I was on the phone with a patient. The second time, I figured it was him and ignored the call because there was no way I could blow half an hour of my day listening to him ramble. The third time, I had stepped out of the office and walked back in to this voicemail. Which is transcribed thusly. Word for word.

Hi Caroline, this is Pai Mei. At [insert his phone number here] I’m calling about, what time is it, 4:21? Just to wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Right. Only before. So that you get it tomorrow. Although you might have taken the holiday off. I think today too you’re off. Because, you know, you haven’t returned my calls. Any of them. So all the best until the time that I call you again. Or that you call me, whatever the case is. Right? I’m still taking care of my health. And thanks a lot. Have a good day, dear. Enjoy! God bless! Bye bye!

I have learned to expect this from Pai Mei (more on this later). But I couldn’t help but sit at my desk, phone to my ear, snickering about this absurd start to my Valentine’s Day.

It all continued to be absurd, but that’s for Valentine’s Day, Part 2……

In Which I am a Klutz and Get Scrubbed Down with Clorox

This was my plan for tonight’s run: warm up, 4 miles tempo pace (around 7:45/mile), 1 more mile at a 7:25 pace, cool down. Blood sugar was 150 at the start, Florence and the Machine on shuffle, YAY all around.

This is what actually happened:

The first 2 miles were mostly YAY all around. Flo serenading me, big yellow moon in the sky, running at what felt like just the right effort level even though I couldn’t really tell what pace I was going at (silly Caro, going without the Garmin). My Dexcom started having a freakout before I left, showing that I was almost 100 mg/dl higher than my meter and going double arrows up, so at some point it buzzed at me and I dismissed its wildly inaccurate freakout to keep running.

But then, halfway through, I was skipping along in the dark when– kaBOOM– my foot caught on an uneven patch of sidewalk. I let out an “ah ah AH!” as I went down, as if I were about to sneeze instead of faceplant. And then, splat.

My first thought was, “HNNNNNNGARRRLLLLHHHH.”

My second thought was, “Oh shit, did anyone see me?”

Continue reading

S*** Patients Say, #1

Old man: Oh, hello sweetheart! Yes, I’m back after last week. I’ve been so constipated and I can barely eat. I thought, maybe I’ve got the flu mixed up in my stomach. So I came to get my flu shot.

ETA: Not only did he believe that constipation = flu….but upon further inquiry, he told me he had already gotten his flu shot. Three weeks before.

It appears you are missing the point

In my work at Ghetto Outer Borough Hospital (heretofore named GOB Hospital), I look at a lot of patient charts.

In the basic info section, there’s a label called “Appearance.” Usually providers will write something like:

APPEARANCE: pleasant, alert, oriented.


etc. etc.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a resident who had written:

APPEARANCE: Pt wearing sunglasses, multiple necklaces, multiple rings, and bracelets.


Good to know, Dr. Vogue.

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