Monday, June 2, 2008

I got an ultrasound yesterday

No, I'm not pregnant.

But I am doing my best to turn into my father. I've sported a mustache occasionally. The woman informs me that my back hair seems to be filling in, which is disturbing on several levels. And now the back beneath that hair is rapidly breaking down.

After a week of intense agony triggered in part by 15 miles of canoeing over the holiday weekend, I visited a physical therapist. She did not give me any specific reason for my back pain, instead pointing to potential aggravating factors, such as my desk job, that my upper back slopes more forward than it should (making me more at risk for back pain), and that it seems as if my upper vertebrae are collapsing on their cartilage.

This is all very troubling information to me, since my father has had cartilage removed from his back and five vertebrae fused together. His back does not generally feel good.

The therapist then ran an ultrasound machine over the afflicted area, saying something like "the deep pulsing waves will help relieve tension." It sounded very scientific yet new-agey at the same time, which did not provide me with much mental comfort, or, as I've determined a day later, physical comfort.

Still, I am sure the pain I am currently feeling is much less than the pain endured by those individuals who choose to pass a living person through their lower regions.


Slate, an online magazine owned by the Washington Post, is one of my favorite websites. It covers a range of topics, including art, entertainment, science, and politics. It even offers a weekly poem, which is obviously of interest to this barely-practicing refugee from the fine arts establishment. In my humble opinion, a lot of the poems published in Slate suck, or are at least fairly unapproachable. They are chosen by Robert Pinsky, who, from what I have read of his recent musings on poetry, is a pretentious prick and one of the reasons why the masses don't give a shit about poetry. (Check out his terse and completely useless responses to "Frequently asked questions about the business of verse.")

But this week's poem, "The Names" by Joe Wilkins, moved me. Maybe the people in it and the landscapes described struck me as Midwestern somehow, opening up some deep-seated ache for home. But it also reminded me of the song "We can't make it here," which I've written about previously.

The closing lines from "The Names":

...This country I call home is, like yours,
lost, and my people too are lost, like me,

so let me hate with them, let me sit up at the bar,
and curse the banker, the goddamn-silly-designer chaps
the new boss man from back east wears,
let me speak the names of the dead and get righteous,
for at least one more round.

On the surface, the poem is about remembering the people from the author's childhood who have died. The poem also clearly deals with socio-economic issues. But I can't help but feel a certain pointed politcal undertone as well.

I only talk politics when I've been drinking, and even then I don't have enough convincing information to back up my beliefs. But sometimes it feels good to get righteous, and Wilkins speaks to that, which in turn speaks to me. There is something cathartic about a rant, especially the unfocused, wandering, tangential, stream-of-conciousness rant, and in tough times, who couldn't use a little catharsis? As Wilkins says, "It's easy,/ and some days easy's what I need."


The other day, the boss lady took us out for ice cream. Most of the crew ordered sundaes. As she ate her maraschino, one of my co-workers said, "Look, I've got the proverbial cherry on top."

"No. No you don't," I replied sternly.

"What?" She seemed confused.

"You don't have the proverbial cherry."

"What do you mean?"

"It's a real cherry. There's nothing proverbial about it. The cherry is actually there. I saw it."

Later, while telling the story to Rowan, I started to feel bad. This was the same woman whom I went nuts on when she claimed that "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins was actually about a man drowning.

I heard her make this claim from my office, and started shouting, "No, no, no. Not true. Not true!"

Sometimes, I just can't stop myself from being an asshole. And sometimes that bothers me, but I guess it's part of who I am.


Also, being the hard-living rocker that I am, I really like the Nonpoint version.

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