Tuesday, November 27, 2007

And The Winner Is...

I went to the doctor today, as I’ve been feverish for a couple of days now. Fortunately the problem is not too serious, but while I was there, he did share with me the results of my allergy tests.

And the winner for what is making my sinuses burn tortuously: cat dander! Yes, my cats are making me sick. Some people will chuckle at the irony of this. On the allergy Richter scale, cat dander rates a 5 for me (anything over 2 is bad). So, this means I need allergy shots, because God knows I will not get rid of my cats. The doctor was smart enough to not even suggest that course of action.

Cats were not the only thing. I am also allergic to dogs, Bermuda grass, American cockroaches (thank God I don’t see many of those), and something mysteriously named “Timothy”.

I wondered about Timothy. It made me think of that horrible song by the Buoys that was a hit in the Seventies—that song about 3 miners trapped in a mine, and they get hungry and decide to eat one of their group, who happens to be Timothy. The Seventies seem to be notorious for weird pop song topics. I guess if I had been there, I couldn’t have eaten Timothy (“Sorry, I have Timothy allergies”). I guess I should also consider myself lucky that my boyfriend isn’t named Timothy. We’d probably have to break up, or I’d have to get shots before I saw him again. That could kill the romance in a relationship.

Actually, it turns out that “Timothy” is a type of grass. Why they don’t just say so on the sheet, I don’t know. In any case, I will soon be getting shots to alleviate my allergies to Shiva, Andromeda, Joplin, Whiskers, and Timothy. And St. Gulick. (If you don’t know who St. Gulick is, you haven’t read the Gospel of Eris. Go buy a copy straightaway).

In the meantime, I am taking lots of vitamins. My doctors are holistic doctors, and are very big on vitamin therapy. So, I’m taking approximately 500,000,000,000 units of Vitamin A per day, and 10,000,000,000,000 units of Vitamin C per day. If you think those numbers aren’t realistic, you are right. The actual numbers are much higher.

According to my doctor, if you really want to get well fast, they can put you on a vitamin intravenous drip that will make you better in no time. It’s their secret for cutting down on sick time in the office—their staff gets it for free. I’m sure it would cost me a bundle.
But it’s a cool idea, and would keep me from having to remember to take my vitamins every morning. If you don’t plant something directly in front of me in the morning, I don’t remember that I’m supposed to do anything with it. Getting a shot once in awhile—well, hey, I’d just have to remember to show up for the appointment.

One of my little allergen bundles wants me to feed him now. Gotta go. Cheers.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday Joy

So it’s the holiday season again. On Thanksgiving morning, I watched the Macy’s parade. I’m not really sure why I still do this. I hate the Macy’s parade. I think I watch it for traditional reasons (i.e., I watched it as a kid), but the performances get more and more obnoxious every year. I am not fond of musicals, and the song performances make me cringe.

The next day I went for a long walk along the Delaware River, and had stopped in a cafĂ© along Harrison Ave. They were playing Christmas music. This no longer shocks me. Lewis Black was correct—Thanksgiving has become Christmas, Part I. I don’t necessarily even mind all Christmas music. Some of it, especially the traditional English pieces (such as the Wexford Carol), are quite nice. But they didn’t play this kind of music. They played more modern Christmas songs, by singers who Dave Barry aptly classifies as the “you don’t love me anymore so I’m going to jump in the bathtub with an electrical appliance” variety. In short, they’re wusses. I don’t like ordinary wuss music, and I especially don’t like wuss holiday music. They sing about children and love and Jesus and hope and trust in such a way that you pray for a painful Armageddon.

What is it about them that I don’t like? I thought about this, and I realize that it’s Carrie Brownstein’s dealbreaker in music—preciousness. Unless you are referring to gemstones, I don’t consider the word “precious” to be particularly complimentary. I cringe if my own mother uses it to refer to me. There’s something about the “preciousness” of these songs that is like an Amanda Bradley greeting card—full of supposedly heartfelt sentiment that smacks of being entirely false.

A friend of mine went away to see our Guru over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I stayed with her 15 and 16-year old son and daughter. Unlike me, they are born and raised traditionally Hindu.

My friend’s son had helped out serving the homeless on Thanksgiving with one of his friends. When I spoke to him, he was totally disgusted. “There was so much food left over. I kid you not—an entire room full of pumpkin pies. Even the volunteers couldn’t take it home. So do you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to throw all that food OUT. I don’t know what it is with these idiot Christians—they cook way too much food, totally overdoing it on one holiday—and basically say ‘f*ck you’ to the poor the rest of the year.”

I thought about that, and realized that he hit upon the very thing I despise about the holiday season. Everyone suddenly wants to get warm and cozy with all of humanity by throwing lots of stuff at them. Once Christmas is over, you don’t see the same level of concern for the homeless, or for orphaned children, or whomever. Just like Christmas music, it is full of sentimentality, with nothing that truly moves you behind it.

Christmas is an entirely secular holiday. It is meant to line the pockets of retailers, and nothing else. I love “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as much as the next person, but Lucy is unfortunately correct. The “keep Christ in Christmas” signs are bulls**t. Christ was born in the spring, probably in April. This is not about the birth of Jesus. It’s an ancient pagan holiday taken over by Christians in order to assimilate pagans to the new religion. I’ve never really forgiven the missionaries for doing that. The St. Patricks of the world did not do us any favors. The point of the holiday is to celebrate the end of shorter days and look forward to the return of longer days. People have traditionally dealt with this by feasting and getting drunk. People still do that, but they’ve added layers of commercial manipulation and guilt to the festivities. Makes me long for simpler times.

My friend’s daughter now has a job in retail. I picked her up from work on Friday, and noted that she looked disgruntled. “My feet hurt” when I asked her about it, “and they played that goddamn CHRISTMAS music all day—that ‘jazzy’ variety—that just about drove me insane.” I felt bad for her. I remember going to a certain mall in Central New Jersey, where they had this 30-foot tall mechanical singing polar bear set up for the holidays. The voice of the bear was much like that of Barney the Dinosaur, a voice which I can tolerate for about ½ of a nanosecond. If this was designed to make me shop at the mall, then I had some bad news for the management. I had been looking at a piece of jewelry on one of the carts in the mall. I looked at the woman who was minding the cart, and realized that she had to listen to this ALL DAY. It’s even worse than being inside one of the stores, where you might be able to drown out the bear with some appalling holiday music of your own. I realized how blessed I was to work in a library, where noise is not allowed.

So—some holiday advice: leave the semi-automatic weapons home when you’re shopping or dining for the next month and wear earplugs (or bring the ol’ iPod with you) when entering any sort of shopping mall. Shopping may be the reason for the season, but don’t overdo it. Cheers.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Randomness: Gospel of Judas and two new blogs

Today I have mostly stayed in, not doing housework, and wondering if it will snow at all later. All this while enjoying some French wine.

This morning I spent some time reading Elaine Pagels’s recent book, “Reading Judas”, which is about the recently discovered Gospel of Judas. The text is dated from the early Christian church, and is interesting in its view on martyrdom. While Iraneus, Ignatius, and other “orthodox” Christians were encouraging martyrdom on the part of persecuted Christians, this gospel clearly shows that there was dissent on that view in the early Church. The writer looks at martyrdom with as much horror as he does on religions that practiced human sacrifice. The gospel’s message has much in common with Hinduism and other Eastern religions, in its assertion that humans already have a connection to the Divine, and it is sacrificing human passion that is required, not any kind of blood sacrifice. The so-called “Gnostic” texts are interesting in how they show the divisions in the early Church. Once the Master disappears, the followers immediately lose their sense of unity, and start asserting their own understanding of the Master’s teachings via politics and other human agencies. It’s fascinating to contemplate.

On another unrelated note, I have discovered two newer blogs from interesting writers. One is ex-Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein, who writes for NPR, in a blog called Monitor Mix. Carrie is a very funny writer, and encourages comments from readers. I encourage you to read this one—her latest post about cell phones is absolutely hilarious.

I also discovered via Technorati a blog called You-Dope-ia by a gentleman calling himself Melak Ta’us. When I read his blog, I feel like he and I were separated at birth or something-we’re both obsessed with LOLcats, Led Zeppelin, news items in physics and other field that we have no comprehension of but are still fascinated with, and the religious “fringe”, for lack of a better term. I recommend his blog highly.

Monday, November 05, 2007


With apologies to my friend who works at Geico. I hate that stupid Gecko. And the cave men. I love LOLcats, though.

The Curse of Allergies

I am home from work again today, suffering from allergies. This may surprise you. If someone else wrote that sentence, I’d think, “Wow, what a total wuss.” But I assure you that this is not a few sniffles or a cough. When I get allergies like this, the event takes on Biblical proportions, and allergy medicine of any kind does not help.

It usually starts like this: I wake up feeling pretty good, maybe a sneeze or two, but I am ready to go out and dive into whatever it is I need to do that day: work, grading papers, running errands. Then, as I am driving, I start to sneeze, and a burning sensation takes over my entire face. Every time I sneeze, my eyes rain enough tears to cure the Southern drought. If I had any makeup on to start with, I can kiss it goodbye. I then alternate between sneezing until my lungs want to pop, weeping torrents, and trying to breathe. It’s always wonderful when this happens at work. I try to ignore the sensations and keep working, but it’s virtually impossible. Anyone who comes into my department starts out with, “Hi, Brigid, how are you—holy sh*t you look miserable. Aren’t you going home?”
And this goes on until I leave of my own volition, or my supervisor comes out of her office and says, “I can’t stand to look at you anymore. Go home.”

Today I left of my own volition. I went as far as to make a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow morning. When it comes to doctors, I am far worse than the stereotypical male. I like to blame everything on PMS or bad astrology. I could have a major body part dangling and bloody, and I’d say, “Oh, I’ll be fine—probably just PMS.” I have nothing against my doctor. He is a decent fellow, and I go to him because he actually listens to my problem and doesn’t throw handfuls of prescriptions at me. He gives me all my options, traditional and holistic, for dealing with the problem. He doesn’t yell at me if I’ve gained 5 pounds since my last visit, and didn’t even yell at me when I’d waited to come in with poison ivy that had blistered so badly, it looked like it would develop its own language and civilization. The problem is that I have no time. Emergencies don’t fit in to my schedule. So I stall on doing anything about going to the doctor for as long as I can.

So, as you may imagine, this gets to be pretty bad. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why this happens—is it weather, a food allergy, stress, demonic possession, or what. I wouldn’t mind it happening once in awhile, but it’s happened 4 times in the last week. I am past being miserable—I am now angry. You see, the theory I have developed in my burning delirium is that there are angry demons somehow related to my sinuses that like to wreak havoc for no good reason. I call them Bob and Beatrice. If you throw medicine at them—Benadryl, Comtrex, Sudafed, Tylenol Sinus, Advil Sinus (or just Advil)—they get furious and create more havoc. Sleep and ice packs to stop the burning seem to be the only helpful thing. That and maybe an exorcism, but I can’t find my handbook. In any event—it was also suggested to me this morning that I might have an infection. I actually hope so—that means there could be a medicine out there that will make this better.

In the meantime—I am willing to settle for mild sniffling and a headache, if I can maintain it.