Thursday, July 28

Eyeballing Carpet

I've been laid out for two weeks after an old back injury flared up. I know it sounds unlikely, but it turns out there is actually a point where pain pills and DVDs just aren't as much fun as you'd think. Hopefully, rest and large needles that are periodically inserted into my back will do the job, because I'm getting tired of staring facedown at the carpet -- the only position that doesn't hurt. Things must be getting desperate if I'm actually yearning to go back to work.

I'm like Shaq or someone, I've got a whole team working on my behalf: 2 physiotherapists, a GP, a back specialist, and just for good measure another back specialist 2000 miles away who is taking time off is vacation to give me advice over the phone. I've got an extravagently sympathetic and supportive wife and a devoted parental support duo. I've got a masseuse who got me on her table, grabbed my fat roll and told me in a gentle yet unyielding Teutonic accent that if it weren't for my beer gut I probably wouldn't have these problems. She has the healing touch and sends me home smelling intensely of lavender. Despite all the help, I'm still spending most of my days going eyeball to shag fiber.

I've become a very close observer of carpets. From a distance of about 3 inches, I watch our own carpet go through the pristine-to-disgusting stage between visits from our cleaning woman -- from off-white to very off-white. You wouldn't believe some of the vile stuff you see by day 6, and I thought we were reasonably clean people. I've camped out on the tasteful floral print rugs of Harley St doctors' offices as I soak up the pity-filled stares of middle-aged receptionists. I get a whole range of responses from London's unflappable cab drivers when I tell them I'll be traveling facedown on the floor of their taxis on the way to my physio appointments and MRI scans. One woman cabbie never stopped clucking at what a poor dear I was, and even went into the pharmacy to pick up my economy-size pack of codeine pills. Another never acknowledged I was there -- not a word, not a glace. It was like I was on the run from the Mafia, keeping a low profile to evade snipers. These are the things that pop into your mind when you spend a significant amount of time staring at the floor.

The last 10 days in particular have been a drugged-out blur of boredom, nagging pain, frustration and fear. On the plus side: 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', 'Miami Vice: Season One', 'Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince', and 'This American Life.' Codeine gets a passing grade, but just barely. Without it I'd be chewing the carpet instead of staring at it, but the buzz has lost its buzz and the side effects on one's plumbing are best left unsaid.

My back is too screwed up for me to do much at all, but not quite screwed up enough for surgery. That's a good thing, or at least I keep telling myself so. I'm resting and getting cortisone shots in the hopes that it will calm down my inflamed, herniated disc. (Discs are like cylinders of Jello that sit between your vertebrae; One of mine has sprung a leak, putting pressure on the nerve that sends sensation down my right leg).

Be good to your lumbar regions, people. You don't want yours to get angry.

Friday, July 1

Smell ya later, suckers!

I'm off to New York for the week to catch up with friends, see my wanderlusting brother, and most importantly to gorge on chicharrones de pollo, fried dumplings and Brooklyn pizza.

Anyone reading this, try to call me in New York on my fancy new Skype number: 718-577-1276. I may not be near a computer to answer, but you can leave a message and I'll call you back.

"Control the agitated, belligerent senile"

From an old pharmaceutical ad:


Wrong on so many levels. From a 1970s Star Wars coloring book:

I Dream of Venus

Venus Williams has always been one of my favorites. She has a gawky, gangly kind of grace that I like. She's not as muscle-bound as her sister, but she can cover the whole court in about three strides.

That said, for the last three years she has basically sucked. She pulled a stomach muscle, got into fashion design, and basically didn't seem interested in tennis anymore. When I saw her lose -- to a 15 year old! -- in stright sets at the French Open last month, I assumed she was done, and I wasn't alone.

Turns out, not so much. Venus spanked my other fave, the not unattractive Maria Sharapova, in a Centre Court match yesterday that had everyone's jaws on the grass. I've never seen her play so well -- where the hell did that come from? She was hitting the ball with unbelievable pace and precision, and made Sharaprova totally ineffectual.

If she can keep it up, Venus will be ascendent once again.

In tangentially related news, check out this great article from the Sports Illustrated archives about John McEnroe's 1981 Wimbledon victory, where he finally beat his nemesis Bjorn Borg.