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Oakland office building lobby

July 20th, 2001

Pain In The Ass
I drove over to the doctor's office Thursday morning to pick up another set of lab paperwork so I could then drive over to the hospital and have the blood work done again. The receptionist said, well, they'd further checked the lab analysis they'd received on Tuesday and the lab had in fact done the test, that she'd talked with the doctor and he wanted to do an ultrasound guided biopsy next month at his office when he returned from vacation. The reading was 5.1, better than the earlier 6.2 reading that set all of this off, but still higher than the 3.8 it's been for most of my life. She gave me pills, an enema kit and a set of instructions, "next patient, please" and told me to be gone. OK. What the hell. Next month.

Friday evening. I don't know if this one drink in the evening thing is panning out. I'm sitting here after my Wild Turkey and water and I'm not really ready to write. You don't write worth a damn on alcohol, and although a single drink wasn't really considered alcohol back in my salad days, a single drink in the evening is now something to do when you don't want to concentrate. Or write. Or carry on a perceptive conversation. A beer with breakfast doesn't work. Wine with lunch? Who needs afternoon coherence? I do most of my thinking in the mornings, after all, no actual demand for afternoon analytical talent. Interesting to say that. I would have been more embarrassed if not more circumspect when I was younger.

That's not true, you know. You were always too loose with your mouth.

Yes, yes. They say insight comes with age, but not much. Those years I spent in the investment business, the land of the tight lipped and the three piece suit. At least I got a kick out of the suits.

Lapse of memory story Number 99: Yesterday, I had my annual exam at the cardiologist's. GoodOakland City Center concert timing, because of this biopsy thing, and I wanted to ask him about the blood thinner pills, how long before this biopsy should I stop taking them and when should I restart. (Four days before, start on the day after the biopsy, since it takes four days to gradually ramp up.) His office is located in Palo Alto, which is a forty five minute drive (on a good day) south. I drive down to the Dumbarton Bridge, cross the bay and dog leg down to Palo Alto to his office. Coming back, I drive back through Palo Alto (crowded little town) and get on Highway 101 north, thinking the traffic wasn't as heavy as I was expecting. The cardiologist had run a stress test and the visit had dragged on until it was approaching the late afternoon commute. So I drive on thinking, "well, at least this is going OK. Maybe I've dodged the bullet".

Good. Driving along. Watching the various traffic entering from the right. Thinking, well, OK, the airport is coming up, yes, there's Broadway. The tests had gone well. No need for complications along with this biopsy business. Wait a minute. Broadway? Before the airport? Oakland airport? Oh, shit. I missed the turnoff to the Dumbarton bridge. Just totally spaced out. I missed seeing the turnoff to the San Mateo Bridge, which should have warned me of my mistake.

Now the airport I'm passing is the San Francisco airport and I am entering San Francisco from the south during the height of the commute, heading for the Bay Bridge and Oakland. And what is this? Why is my gas light flashing? I am truly fucked. I am listening to the radio through all of this and the announcer is saying there are two stalls at the moment on the Bay Bridge upper deck. (Upper deck or lower deck? I realize now he said - I think - upper deck, which is not so bad, since you go to Oakland on the lower deck, but I heard it to mean my lanes were blocked and this six lanes of parking lot was going to remain a parking lot.)

This is not the first time I've done this. Last year, I missed the turn off and had to take the San Mateo bridge further to the north, but this time I didn't come out of my reverie until I'd hit the point of no return at the airport. I've done worse things in my past, in my late twenties and thirties, but back then I was stoned to oblivion, three in the morning, wind whipping through the window, radio blaring, as I hallucinated my way along the highway. Interesting now to think I may have come full circle.

So, short term memory loss? Wild Turkey whiskey every evening? Mid term memory loss? I guess. It all comes together, eventually. As I sit here writing this, my one drink sloshing around in my noggin, I'm not really worried about it. The doctor said the one drink a day was like one cookie a day, the calories add up. He was more worried about the health effects of weight gain, than anything else. No comment on whether the one drink was good for the heart of not. I got back to the office almost two hours late and missed shooting the City Center concert they hold on summer Thursday's after work, which is a pain in the ass.

The banner photograph was taken in our building lobby and the second photograph at an Oakland City Center Thursday afternoon concert. The quote is from The Zen Koan, by Miura and Sasaki.