Thursday, March 23, 2006

Plasma for Plasma Screens

This is one of those periods I experience from time to time, where I don't have enough money for all the things I want. When I say "things I want", I am not talking about cars, accordions, boats, unicycles, personal jets, laptop computers, Ronco food dehydrators, plasma screens, or electric staplers. I gave up on that type of thing a while back. What I mean is things like gas, food, socks that match, jeans without holes, rent, etc.

I have paid most of my rent for next month, but still owe for utilities. I can wear holy jeans, especially now that it's warming up a bit. I don't have any slumber parties scheduled in the immediate future, so the sock situation is fine. I can raid food from my mom's house whenever I need (I call it "shopping"). Also my roommate works at domino's and brings home a pizza every other night.

Mom, if you're reading this, don't worry. I am eating just fine. I'll prove it: Yesterday I ate cereal, spaghetti (the kind that is four different colors), green beans, an orange, and two sandwiches. Don't worry.

But as I will be driving quite a bit before payday rolls around again, I'll need some gas. Fortunately my veins are flowing with a substance worth way more than $2.399/gallon.

Yes, my friends, it is time to donate plasma once again. For $20, you let them suck a bunch of your blood out through a big needle, whirl it around in a jar to extract the plasma, mix the remaining red cells with saline solution, then shoot the red cells back into your arm via the same hole and same needle. You can even see the little bottle fill up with your own plasma. Its creepy and exciting.

My last experience with this was a bit traumatic*, but I don't always fold like a cheap lawn chair. This is $20 we're talking about. And you can go back like 2 or 3 times a week, almost like a part time job. Personally, I would tap the ol' savings account before I resorted to that, but still.

*Since they are using the same needle to extract and inject your blood, it has two channels, which means it is like twice the size of a regular phlebotomy needle. I got through the sticking. Everything was going fine, until I noticed my bottle wasn't really filling up anymore after it was 3/4 full. I looked down at my arm and saw a viscous red fluid creeping out from the where the needle met my flesh. Shouldn't the blood be going into the tube rather than on my arm? I raised my hand and someone came over. "Oh, this shouldn't happen." Good. We agreed on that. She took out the needle and we saw a little red tail hanging out of the hole in my arm. She wiped away the blood and pulled out what looked like a kangaroo joey. A clot had formed in my vein and had blocked the needle. They said I was done for the day and could collect my $20 even though I couldn't fill up their bottle. All in a day's work.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Smoker's Dilemma

Smoke or not? There are other ways to be rebellious, but nothing quite so much as smoking. I think its because it is no good for anyone. It rots your lungs, annoys everyone around you, is expensive, and makes you smell bad. It's like you're rebelling against everything at the same time.

And we all like to feel rebelliuos now and then. It's thrilling. For some people this means jumping out of an airplane, and for others crime (whether the harmless kind like skinny dipping in a hotel pool or the other kind). For still others staying out way past midnight drinking caffeine is rebellious.

The only trouble is deciding when enough is enough. Someone once advised me to try anything that has no permanent consequences, which include addictions, pregnancies, criminal records, severe injuries, and death. I was VERY curious, all through high school, as to what it was like get high on weed. Running through this list of permanent consequences I could easily rationalize that weed meets none of the criteria since it isn't chemically addictive.

I never tried it, but that was not for lack of willingness. Nobody ever offered me any. Sure, of course that's good thing that reflects well on where I grew up and who my friends were, but it was also oddly disappointing at the time.

Fortunately (in a strange sort of way) I was offered a legal, toxin-infused, non-medicinal conventional cigarette, which I refused. The kid offering it to me was one I did not like nor respect, and I was quite indifferent about his opinion of me. Besides, unlike marijuana, tobacco is VERY chemically addictive, and totally out of style.

But I have tried tobacco. I have. Several times. It was exciting, edgy, rebellious....everything I hoped for. But after the novelty wore off, some of my friends and family members saw me smoking and I felt ashamed. Then I noticed how I was feeling sick a lot of the time and I would resolve to quit. Quitting was easy, until I would suddenly notice I was smoking again.

The thing that finally helped me quit was my alarm clock. As soon as it went off, I realized that hadn't really been smoking; I had only been dreaming that I was smoking. The smoking dream has occured three times I think, and I very much enjoy it. All of the thrill of smoking, none of the consequences.

Dream about these things, but don't do them. If you do, what is the point of dreaming?

Sigmund Freud: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

René Magritte: "This is not a pipe."