Saturday, December 27, 2008


I hope everyone had a good holiday. I did. It was freezing when I left New York. It was five a.m. and I woke up at my friend's house in Brooklyn and walked outside and everything was ice. I was pretty much asleep and I took a real spill on the ice, not as bad as when I went ice skating, but still a body-on-the-ice situation. Then I got on the plane and fell asleep and got to Maryland and it was already warm. My dad's friend's grandson from Mexico is staying with us. We went to the Hirschhorn and saw the infamous Ron Mueck "Big Man."

For Christmas I got a lot of books, maybe some other things, a pair of nice slippers, a nice shirt from Mexico, a bottle of mezcal with the worm in it, some prescription drugs that were my present to myself, and a jacket that isn't here yet.

Yes, lots of books. I got Mating by Norman Rush, Light in August by Faulkner, Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi, Shadow Country by Peter Mathiessen, and maybe something else, I can't remember right now. In the bookstore I picked up a paperback of The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg, my favorite novel from 2007, and noticed that the quote on the cover is from my review.

I also saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Some beautiful, amazing moments, but they're isolated, and I didn't like the movie much. The deathbed framing device is damning... rarely have I seen clearer evidence built into the structure of the movie that the filmmakers lacked confidence in the strength of the story they were telling.

But probably the best part of the last few days was when I went to the doctor at NYU cancer center for a lump in the flesh of my lip. "Well, it's either a tumor or a mucocele," he said. "We'll just see." So he anesthetized my lip and then took a syringe with a huge needle and stuck the needle into the lump... which immediately popped and I saw a fat droplet of clear fluid burst into the syringe. Oh my god. Why are experiences involving the sudden, slightly painful extraction of matter from the body (pulling loose teeth, bursting ripe zits) so satisfying?


Ian said...

Imagine lancing a three inch diameter abscess from the crease of somebody's armpit. That was probably the operative highlight of my intern year, because I had planned ahead with wintergreen oil on the front of my mask (those things have a loathsome smell) and because I still hadn't seen any really cool stuff yet. Nowadays I find the sort of satisfaction you mention by removing herniated disks or tumors that have been compressing the spinal cord or nerve roots. It's amazing how 'happy' a mass of nervous tracts can look once you've relieved it of a large, well-circumscribed lump that had mashed it into small corner of the spinal canal.

Anyways, glad you had a good holiday. I saw a movie you should check out--a swedish vampire flick called Let the Right One In. It has just the proper measure of gore, love, adolescent angst, and revenge.

Looking forward to reading Midnight Picnic. Lately I've been reading a bit of David Foster Wallace, with I find is a decent antidote to the hebetating influence of 17 hour work days.

Have a good New Years!


j. a. tyler said...

thanks for the reminder about THE QUIET GIRL. I put it on my shopping list. anything else I need a reminder to read?

enjoy new years.

N A said...

Ah, Ian. I miss talking to you. You're never online anymore. Saving lives, I suppose...

I was thinking about you the other day--I might email you with a medical question that's up your alley, maybe.

J.A., I hope you like the Quiet Girl. I'm looking fwd to rereading it. There are too many other books to read. I can't burden anyone else with my reading list. The stack beside my bed is too big.

sam pink said...

i really liked HELTER SKELTER

N A said...

Good! I got it because Ned Vizzini recommended it. So that's two recommendations.