Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dudes of Cancer: Monsieur April

“If you don’t like onion rings, then I don’t even care ‘bout ya” – Trick Daddy

Michael C. Hall

If you haven’t seen the show, then I don’t even care 'bout ya. Dexter—a Showtime series about a blood spatter analyst who works for the Miami Metro Police Department and kills people in his spare time to feed his need—is awesome. Michael C. Hall plays the title character.

Dexter witnessed his mother’s bloody murder as a young boy, her body sliced to pieces, her blood saturating him as he howled, alone, and sitting in it. Dexter’s mind repressed the memories, but he was left sociopathic and emotionally dead.

Michael Hall’s father died of prostate cancer when he was just 11 years old. He plays the role of the emotionless monster so well that one has to wonder if his boyhood trauma made him into a real-life Dexter. That just may be considering he married his sister, that sicko (well, at least his adopted sister on the show…same thing, right?).

I was saddened earlier this year to learn that Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a very treatable form of cancer when diagnosed early. He kept his ordeal fairly quiet, and accepted his Golden Globe Award wearing a beanie.

Just days ago, Hall was said to be “fully recovered” from cancer and back to work on Dexter. I can’t wait for the next season. Nothing shows cancer who is boss more than Monsieur Serial Killer getting back to his trade.
Dexter's Michael C. Hall

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Iron Marrow

My bone marrow has had a rough seventh year of life, through no fault of her own. Because I received so many blood transfusions over the years, my organs accumulated iron. My ferritin level—a measure of the iron in my bloodstream—was over five times the upper limit of normal. Treatment consisted of getting my blood drained monthly.

Being the go-getter that I am, I requested my doctor to draw off more blood, and more frequently. After several months my harassment finally worked and I now get 400 milliliters of blood removed every three weeks—nearly enough to fill a bottle of water.

My bone marrow thinks that my request was intended to piss her off (keep this on the DL, but it is funny hearing how exhausted she gets when I exercise the day following my blood draws). She also makes heinous threats, like depriving my penis of blood. She feels entitled to the life of a normal, middle class bone marrow.

I try explaining that sometimes life throws shit your way that you must deal with—like cancer, a second cancer, or perhaps a bone marrow daughter when I was far too young to conceive one. And had I known it would be a female who refuses to toss the baseball around, I surely would have waited for a male-transplant. Ultimately, you just feed her candy tobacco and she’ll get over it—young bone marrows are resilient like that. Pegging her in the platelets with a baseball and crying, “Why a girl, God, why?” helps, too.

She’ll be better off with less iron, anyway. I think all that metal has gone to her stem cells and transformed her into a rager. She brags about how many chin-ups she can do and the size of her "lymphocyte pumps," whatever the hell that means. She already earned the Guinness record: Max Hemoglobin Press for a female bone marrow aged three to six.

Feel free to wish my sweet little bone marrow a wonderful birthday (she turns seven years old on Saturday). Hopefully I can convince my doctor to take 500 milliliters next time. She’d probably faint walking up a flight of stairs.

Leia Mais…

Monday, April 19, 2010

Arlington Update: Jamming Out

After surviving my stem cell transplant in 2003, my dad’s coworkers scrounged a few hundred dollars for me to buy myself a present. I chose to spend it on something practical. I narrowed my options down to the following:

Old-fashioned popcorn machine
retro popcorn machine
Snow cone maker
retro snow cone machine
XM Radio
Delphi XM satellite radio
At that time XM Radio had fewer than 1 million customers, but JD—always one of the first to adopt new technology—had bought a unit for his Wrangler, and I loved it. The commercial-free music, clear sound, and plethora of sports channels gave XM a slight edge over popcorn kernels. I splurged on the Delphi SkyFi car unit and home boom box.

Throughout my six years with XM, I had only two qualms: no modern, hard rock station, and no mainstream rock station. I could only take so many ‘90s alternative and Shins/Killers/Muse-type songs. I voiced my concern to XM in an e-mail. “As an economics major I don't see why an upgrade can't be made,” I wrote. “The cost of changing the music selection pales in comparison to the fixed costs of the satellites.”

He lost me at “fixed costs” and didn't respond.

When I moved to Arlington, I cancelled my subscription to XM because of the county’s vast public transportation. Though I miss it now, at first I enjoyed flipping through commercial- and static-ridden FM stations. It reminded me of the old days.

I also realized that XM lacked one more key station: an equivalent to Hot 99.5. Shockingly, even 99.5 doesn’t play the hot new shit enough for me, so I created a playlist on Grooveshark dominated by Justin Bieber tunes. Don’t be ashamed if you have to Google Justin Bieber—I did the same thing when I kept hearing his name mentioned. Trust me—he’s worth the hype.

Keep in mind, though, that this is coming from someone who outright purchased two Britney Spears albums. Let that soak in before judging me.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Strikeout: Part II

These segments are a continuation of my 2007 story, Strikeout.

I was in the computer lab my senior year of high school with The Stumbler and my crush, Munchkin. They were discussing a party she would attend that night, and how I should accompany her. Munchkin told The Stumbler that I was going to get play that night, and it was obvious she wanted me to overhear her.

My nerves went haywire. I pretended not to listen as I furiously typed gibberish, though the look on my face suggested I found the solution to peace in the Middle East. I forced myself to stop by her work that afternoon, though.

I first ran into 7-11 and bought her the blue pack of Starburst, formerly known as California Fruits before Mars changed the flavors and name to Baja California. The original blue pack was one of the best candy packages ever assembled. I was hopeful that Munchkin shared my passion for corn syrup and hydrogenated palm oil.

I felt like I was about to make an inauguration speech in front of two million people. I strolled into her work—palms wet, sweat dripping down my ribs from my armpits, shaky with an unsure voice. I cleared my throat several times, and then slammed the beautiful blue package on the counter.

“Hi, Ben! Starburst…thanks.”

“They’re California Fruits. They’re the tastiest.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Somehow, my cognitive abilities functioned enough for me to converse for 40-60 seconds, just long enough to get her number—clearly a mistake, as now I would have to talk to her again.

I called that evening, pacing the floor, and thankfully she didn’t answer. I was free to play my video games with a normal heart rate as she did not call me back.

At my five-year informal high school reunion, I talked to a long lost friend about the exact same things I talked to all reunioners about—what are you doing, how are things, yada yada yada. Two tall girls wearing limited apparel walked past me toward the bathroom. I halted our pointless conversation to ask my friend if he noticed the girls’ height. “They were monsters!” I said.

“They were tall, but I wouldn’t call them monsters. You’re just short.”

We continued talking, often beginning sentences with, “Hey, remember back in high school when…” I looked to my right and saw the two girls walking back toward me. They stopped at our table. “Did you call us monsters before?” What do you have, dog ears?

“Um. No. What?” I said. My friend was smirking. He might as well have been pointing at me.

“We definitely heard you call us monsters.”

“No, see, my friend here was explaining how he thinks Bigfoot exists, and I think it’s stupid to believe in monsters. He claims that genetic mutations can occur that would create a humanoid, and the poor feller would never be left alone in society.”

“Whatever, short stuff.”

That’s the second time I’ve called a girl a monster (see Strikeout #6), and it is quite rude. Damn milk drinkers.

I leaned over the ledge late one Saturday night at Clarendon Grill, watching the live band. My friends were scattered around the restaurant. Though very loud noise bothers my ears, I enjoy seeing live music and don’t seek it out enough. The band was playing rock cover songs, and I could dig it.

Something brushed my tush. I turned to see if Zeke was messing with me, but didn’t notice him. My attention returned to the band, now playing Fall Out Boy. Then I felt an ass pinch, with a full finger clamp. I quickly twisted to find the culprit standing at the bar staring at me, motioning for me to come join him. I consented. “Are you pointing to me?” I asked.

“I sure was. Can I buy you a drink?”

I looked at the Bud Light in my hand. “No, I’m good.”

“Anything else I can get you?”

“No thanks.”

I walked back to the ledge. When I later used the restroom, he was at the urinal next to me. I picked my speck on the wall to stare at and hoped the dude strictly abided by men’s bathroom etiquette.

Was this incident an omen that a change was to come regarding my ineptitude with the ladies? Or was it just a random dude who saw me as a fine sexy piece of ass?

My roommate, Millennium, and I met our teammates for our first skeeball match in the DC league we joined. There were eight of us on our team named “Skeet Skeet Skeet” (my suggestion, closely followed by “Will Skeet for Balls” and “Our Dog Skeets Pink Lipstick,” also my ideas). Girls comprised half our team. My attention focused on the shorter girl, Hot4Teacher. So did my roommate—why are tall dudes always snagging the short girls?

Hot4Teacher and I conversed well. She was a third-grade teacher, I once thought about becoming a high school teacher. She spent time in San Diego, I heard their zoo is phenomenal. She lived in Bethesda and I used to receive cancer treatment there. The similarities were astounding.

Once back home, Millennium and I discussed our skeeball team. Most people in the league seemed older, and our team was no different. Millennium thought Hot4Teacher was our age, but I could tell she was slightly older. I pegged her at 28-30.

Writing a book has provided me tremendous internet searching (read: stalking) skills. I investigated Hot4Teacher, which was far too easy since her Facebook privacy settings were turned off. I found what looked to be her profile. It said she graduated from college in 1993. I figured it was a prank profile. Then, I found an early 1990s list of marathon runners, including the athletes’ ages. Her name was listed. Hot4Teacher is now 38 years old—about 50% older than me.

Though we won our first skeeball match, our team was horrendous, finishing the season 2-6. Late in the season three other girls were playing shuffleboard and needed one more player. I volunteered, not least because shuffleboard is more fun than skeeball. Also, the girl on my side of the table was smart, fun, short, and pretty as hell.

We spent the next couple of hours together, with brief breaks so I could get my skeeball rolls in. She was a college intern working on Capitol Hill. I impressed her with tidbits I learned in The Economist. Before leaving, I got her digits.

I reverted to Swingers on how long to wait before calling, but then realized that Vince Vaughn is full of shit. I called two days later, left a silly message, and then received a return text message. After many more attempted funny texts and another voicemail, and a week-long silence on her end, she decided to meet up with me.

If a relationship could exist entirely on written instead of oral communication then I would be pulling a Ben Roethlisberger number of chicks. Since I would be forced to speak, though, I arrived at our meeting place early and downed two shots of cheap rum.

I had a pleasant time, but somewhere I messed up because she kept yawning and claimed she had to do work after our social engagement. I left a message two days later and did not hear back.

I had ample time at work to consider what went wrong. Two rum shots: too much, too noticeable? Did I ask too many questions about her growing up on a farm? How could I not be curious when she said she’s eaten bear jerky?

Why didn’t I wear one of my Brooks Brothers slim fit shirts?

Was I too vague when I said I wrote a memoir but didn’t disclose what it was about? Was I not funny enough, too boring? When she said she was a good three-point shooter, I hope I didn’t go on a tangent about my man crush on Kobe Bean Bryant.

When my book eventually gets published and I reach balloon boy-fame, then hopefully stating that Black Mamba is perhaps the most talented (which is different than the best) scorer of all time will not hinder my chances. All ages* between 21 and 45 will be fair game.

*females only, with the sole exception of Kobe Bryant (...not that there's anything wrong with that)

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