Saturday, September 25, 2010

My search for steroids

Four o'clock in the morning is a desolate time of darkness and disrepute.

The streets are empty. The world is still in slumber. And I would be joining the world if it weren't for the pesky fact I need a job to pay for all my addictions.

Sometimes I'm so damn tired it hurts. I'll be sitting at my desk banging my head against any hard surface I'll find. I'll slap myself awake, rub my eyes like I'm scrubbing a bathtub. This isn't every morning, but it happens enough.

The cure for this? Well, caffeine, right? It's the steroids, the performance enhancing drug for the working stiff. If caffeine disappeared, our whole society would collapse. Besides soda, I don't tend to drink caffeine-enriched beverages. And drinking soda that early is not an option for me. Another complication: I just don't like coffee.

So where do I get my steroids?

My first experiment was Red Bull. It doesn't taste great, but I can deal with it. It worked those first few days, but then my body began to reject that stuff like Dikembe Mutombo. More than a few times a feeling of pretty intense chest-tightness attacks bombarded me hours after imbibing the liquid crack. I felt like my heart was about to shoot out of my chest. It was scary.

So I stopped my Red Bull affair.

For the next two weeks or so I just willed myself awake when those moments of tempting slumber beckoned me. My world famous Sears will, just the power of my mind. That's all I had.

Then ol' pal Z.C. Hossem came to town. While he has many talents, the one thing he strikes out on is recommending drinks for me. From the pure piss that was Speckled Hen to the rum-and-coke and the Bloddy Mary, he's been like that buddy in the romantic comedy who gives terrible girl advice to the moping male hero and laughs at the disaster sure to come.

He vowed to take me to Starbucks and introduce me to a coffee that could add some zip in the mornings. He ordered a venti hazelnut something and added a bunch of other stuff to it. It wasn't too bad, to tell you the truth.

My quest for caffeine was over.

Then after I dropped him off at the airport that day, I had another ... incident while driving back home. The closest thing I could describe it as is a panic attack, which I've had. Chest tightness, my heart acting wild and a kind of caged energy that turned my limbs tingly and a little numb. If not for the traffic on US-1 I would have had to pull over. It lasted almost a half-hour and lingered the rest of the night.

Thankfully, Zach's attempt on my life failed.

This was the final straw. I had to see the doctor about this. I figured it had something to do with what I was drinking, but I needed to be sure.

My hypothesis was correct. The doctors ran tests, even an EKG, and everything was normal. It was the caffeine. Had to be. The day I went to the doctor, I tried a small Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee and I was shaking like a kid on a sugar high.

"You need to drink decaf," the doctor told me.

Yes, I guess I do.

What she didn't tell me but what I know to be the truth now?

"You should've stayed with coffee milk."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Visitor

With not much to do, former NBA superstar Vlad Radmonovic decided to give me a visit in my Southern Florida habitat.

I will recount our adventures in cleverly titled sections because I know that's how Americans like to read when they decide to read at all.

The Part Where I Forget How to Drive

One of my best qualities is my perfect driving record. Have I been spotless? No. Ask Jeff Schaible about my thrilling U-turn of death. But I have no tickets at all and I can usually work myself around an area in which I've spent nearly four years.

But anytime former Lakers lazy man Radmonovic comes to town, I turn into an 80-year-old Alzheimers patients hunched over the wheel swerving into Farmer's Markets.

First, I get lost driving back to my apartment from the airport. A drive I've done dozens of times with no problem and suddenly we're on our way to Naples.

And I couldn't find an Outback Steakhouse. That took us an hour. I couldn't find a Boston bar where we could watch the Patriots game. We even missed the first touchdown of the season.

I also got sidetracked again while driving to Hollywood, having to circle around the airport to get back to I-95.

All this is made worse because you could drop Radmonovic in Siberia and he'd find the closest Siberian Shawarma within 20 minutes with only a dogsled and a map of Mordor.


Where No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

After the 1-15 Patriots cheated their way past the Bengals, Vlad and I took to the sandy courts nestled next to beautiful Fort Lauderdale beach. Of course I lost, but it was 12-10. Respectable. After a soul-searching swim in the warmest beach water I have encountered, we were headed home when I found part of a man's wallet in the parking lot.

I had his social security card, voter registration form and the works. Did I sell it on the black market? Did I steal his life savings? No. I called him and told the man I'd wait for him at the beach and hand him his wallet back.

While we waited, I got a parking ticket. Now, while we were paying at the beginning, a man came up to us and handed us his slip, which had few more hours on it. Great! So I displayed the slip but in my haste it flipped upside down, leaving only an old one face up for the parking inspectors.

Another mindless Sears moment for me. But since I still had the good parking slip, I vowed to fight the good fight the next morning and get the ticket rescinded. Finally, a Sears victory against the Man! Instead of being the lovable lout of loserdom, the sweet nectar of victory was close at hand.

So I waltz into the bureaucratic crypt the next day confident of victory.

"Can I see your Fort Lauderdale resident card?"

Wah wah wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I glanced at the ticket and lo and behold, "Fort Lauderdale resident" glowed up at me. They get discounted parking rates, the rest of us don't. Bye, bye, 25 bucks.

To recap, one man's nice gesture prevented us from just paying for the slip ourselves. And my decision to stop, pick up the wallet and wait meant my car sat in the parking lot 20 minutes late. So two acts of kindness = $25 parking ticket.

And you wonder why I'm a misanthrope.

No Life at Sun Life

I still remember my first trip to Fenway Park in 1995 in a game against the Brewers. The gigantic Green Monster. The smell of the impeccably green grass. The Citgo Sign. The wide, finely raked infield. The stuff that gets Bob Costas in the mood.

So with that in mind, I hoped to give the hulking bear that is Vlad Radmonovic a similar experience at beautiful Sun Life Stadium for an NL East slobberknocker between the Marlins and the Phillies.

It was an eye-opener, all right. Vlad could not believe the Rhode Island-mall type atmosphere for the game. The empty concourse. The endless expanse of empty orange seats. The ability to freely pick where we wanted to watch the game from center field.

An audience you'd expect at the Division 5B Rhode Island Sectional Semifinals between Scituate and Cumberland, not a major league baseball game with the two-time defending NL champions.

Only a short baseball throw from rightfielders Jayson Werth and Mike Stanton, we watched the Phillies fool around with the disinterested Marlins. Both of us were on TV for just a second on Logan Morrison's solo bomb to center. Only an obnoxious, foul-mouthed teenage girl added any spice to the proceeding.

"I F'n love F'n Jayson Werth! World F'n Champs!"

Damn kids these days.

The Lost Winter of 2005 Part II

Back in December of 2005, Vlad and I watched more than a few seasons of the Sopranos. Worse, I was watching those episodes for the second time. It's like we went on a huge meth kick and loss a month of our lives strung out in some dilapidated shack. Only with more gabbagool.

After several expensive meals (including a delicious $11 margarita for yours truly) and a salacious A/C controversy that cost me a yet-to-be determined amount of money, we decided to revert to cheap college student mode and watch The Wire, otherwise known as the greatest TV show of all time.


Again, I was watching these episodes for the second time. In my defense, you have to watch that show more than once. It is that deep. We zipped through an entire 10 episode season in about two days, but what a glorious, "life is futile and we're all cogs in an evil machine" two days they were!

Vlad has since gone back to New Jersey, but that doesn't mean I stop having fun. Yesterday, I saw the Kings of Leon perform. They put on a solid set. Nothing fancy. They just got up there, played their songs skillfully and left. They played all the songs I wanted to hear so I was happy.

And I got a $30 t-shirt out of it.