It was approximately two years ago that I spent nearly 21 hours tangling with the ER at LA County USC Hospital or, as it is really known, General Hospital. I still recall that grueling day and night and day again. I still really hate anything airing on the CW network. I still lament not having THS TV. It's a free premium channel that shows some epically bad action films from the 70s. The film that Craig is ranting about over the phone on any given day typically is airing on that channel. Alas, it is on every cable and satellite provider but mine. Most of all, I remain amazed at how many people that facility treats on any given day and how good that care can be. In my case, it was excellent. The only problem is one that is unavoidable. There is a lot of waiting involved in being seen at General Hospital. To quote the always profanely elegant Nadia G of the Cooking channel's Bitchin' Kitchen, 'when you're a broke-ass, you wait in a lot of lines.' Now, I must amend that a little. The wait times at the ER are considerably shorter than that 21 hours. After my visit, there was a big news expose about that. The county cracked down and the time got way shorter on average. My last trip to that ER ha me in and out in four hours! Thankfully, I haven't had to visit an ER in well over a year.
This week, I had a two part wait. The first part was at the oncology clinic. Then, I had to wait around an hour and a half before going to wait at the primary care clinic. In between the clinics, I had to climb up then down then up these stairs to the left. There is another set of stairs beyond those to reach the building where my clinics are. It was a grueling experience to put it mildly. The Popeye's Fried Chicken helped a little – but not very much. The time that I have waiting in the clinic or inching along the 10 west freeway to and from the hospital has been an opportunity to read. I don't think I've read this many books since Grad School. I've read most of Anthony Bourdain's bibliography, including his delightful fiction and an amazing book on Typhoid Mary. I've read all sorts of food fiction and non-fiction. I've also read enough literature, literary history and lit criticism to teach a course (though I really don't want to). I've tried to study Japanese, but that requires a book, a notebook and far too much room than I have on the express bus or the clinic waiting room. Reading is also less stressful while I'm waiting.
The current book I'm obsessed with is The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik. It is a history of the restaurant and the cookbook as well as the history of the kitchen table primarily in French culture. This all sounds like the height of food nerdom, but Gopnik's gift as a writer is to make any topic very personal and accessible. His writing is always amusing and engaging. He wrote one of my favorite books ever, Paris to the Moon. It was a touching memoir about how he came to be a columnist in France and what his life was like there. But it was about so much more than that as this book is about so much more than food. Though Gopnik proclaims that this book is not a cookbook, his incredibly sensual descriptions of preparing and eating food have caused me to make a couple of the meals he detailed. One description involves a revolution in the way I make scrambled eggs. Yes, scrambled eggs. Gopnik is correct when he says that simple cooking is never really simple. He has made me look at myself as a cook in a new way that's rather exciting. Beyond that, I'm enthralled with his wonderfully elegant way of connecting with the reader. It made the waiting almost joyful! Of course, I recommend it and Paris to the Moon as highly as possible.
Fits and Starts
This week was a throwback to earlier days in my illness. I'm not ill, mid you. But my physical challenges were more pronounced last week. I can say that the acupuncture is having a positive impact on the pain. And I am getting more and more miles in with each walk. The throwback was the fatigue. I went from being able to write or edit until right before going to sleep near midnight to being unable to focus on anything but rudimentary TV shows after dinner around six pm. There were a couple of days when I didn't do anything at all. I think I'd having a period of adjustment to new meds. Strangely, I did manage to accomplish many things on my list. The editing proceeded in a timely fashion. I uploaded corrected versions of two titles. And I uploaded a new video in my Yaoi cooking webseries, Cook Like a Uke. Any one interested in learning about an almost basic Japanese breakfast (almost because I substituted sausage patties cut into cute shapes for natto beans and grilled horse mackerel. The reasons for this and for the technical glitches make for a comedic blog. You can find that and a link to the video HERE.
I cover all that I'm allowed to publicly talk about in the paragraph above. More news is hopefully coming soon as I am bursting with surprises.