TYOLD Day 59: Swank Suite

One of the most swank suites I have ever stayed in… Academy Awards viewing party Sunday!!

Entry Hall

Entry Hall

 

Living Room

Living Room

Living room and kitchen

Living room and kitchen

Bedroom

Bedroom

Part of the bathroom

Part of the bathroom

One side of the wraparound balcony

One side of the wraparound balcony

Other side of the wraparound balcony

Other side of the wraparound balcony

View

View

TYOLD Day 58: Vegas Differentlies

No, I didn’t run into my gastroenterologist at the all-you-can-eat buffet, but I did do a bunch of new stuff in Vegas today.

I got a tour of the new(ish) Downtown Grand hotel, which really impresses on a bunch of levels.  I’m declaring it the best hotel in Downtown Vegas right now and one of the best in town.  Amazing pool opening next week.

Ate at a restaurant at that hotel called The Commissary.  It’s a Latin kitchen, done as a sort of food court but with a funky, mismatched furniture thrift store meets cafeteria vibe.   The food was amazeballs – the Latin brisket, yum, and the Cubano torta with ham, slow-cooked pork carnitas, and cheese… love.

Got a tour of the Rock Camp in Vegas, which is where you can live out your inner rock star by jamming with famous musicians (the members of Judas Priest are in town this weekend), recording, and even performing at the House of Blues.  Fun.

Tonight had dinner at Triple George Grill, also Downtown, and was a little disappointed.  Buttermilk fried chicken but it was too heavy on the pepper.

Stopped at Fizz, the new champagne bar at Caesars Palace from Elton John’s husband David Furnish.  I’m so not a champagne person but I LOVED this place.  Intimate, grown-up, and a cocktail that mixed fresh strawberries,  fresh squeezed lemon juice, wild strawberry liquor, gin, and a touch of champagne.  It was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had in my life and I got to enjoy it in Elton John’s own VIP suite overlooking the club.  Swank!

Then finished off the night seeing The Jacksons at Planet Hollywood.  I was skeptical going in but I have to tell you it is one of the best, purely joyful celebrations of American music that I have seen.  I dare you to go listen to “Blame It On the Boogie,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” or “Shake Your Body” and not want to get up and dance.  They sound great, they dance their asses off (and they are not young men anymore) and just generally put on one hell of a show.

More Vegas-ing tomorrow including a car museum, a backstage tour, dinner and a show with friends from the East Coast, and rain all day Sin City according to the forecast.  Fun.

Shake Your Body

Shake Your Body

TYOLD Day 57: When the Universe Speaks, Do You Listen?

In order to fully grasp what I am choosing to believe is the “enormity” of what happened to me tonight, I have to take you back a bit in the cancer saga and repeat myself a bit.  It’ll be worth it, I promise.

When I got cancer, naturally I got an oncologist.  I was referred to him by my gastroenterologist and didn’t really do a lot of doctor shopping after I met him.  He was a nice guy, seemed knowledgeable, had good credentials, and a name that made him sound like a cartoon character. So I, naturally, nicknamed him Dr. Wile E. Coyote.

About a month ago, when it was time to get my quarterly follow up tests, I reached out to Dr. Wile E. Coyote’s office and they didn’t respond.  Numerous attempts yielded no results and eventually I found out that he had left the practice and relocated to Pasadena.

I am incredibly lazy and didn’t feel like schlepping my ass all the way out to Pasadena so instead I decided to go to a different doctor in the same practice in Burbank, near where I live.  Also a nice guy – I named him Dr. Kangaroo, because he kind of reminds me of the TV Captain of the same name.

Anyway, we did the tests and got back some “indeterminate,” so off I went to do the big test – the PET scan, which involves getting radioactive and lying in a tube for a long time.

As I wrote yesterday, the PET scan showed a spot – a tiny one in my armpit – that has grown since my last scan a few months ago, which is not good news.   The problem, according to Dr. Kangaroo, is that the thing is so small that it is too early to do anything about right now.  He says they wouldn’t be able to get a good biopsy sample and that surgery to just remove would be overkill.  So he wants to wait 8-10 weeks and run everything again and see where we are at.

I’m not wild about this plan.  I’m not good with waiting and besides, it seems like I have dodged this particular bullet one too many times and delaying this seems like begging for someone to shoot me.

I hadn’t really decided, but I was considered reaching out to Dr. Wile E. Coyote to see what he had to say about things.  I was going to think about it while I was in Vegas, which is where I am writing this from right now.

So today I go about my crazy Vegas stuff – great dinner at a Chinese place at the Hard Rock; a fun show at The Stratosphere; then off to the most bizarre, and yet kind of fun, nightclub I’ve ever been to, which was a the MGM Grand.  Although I was having a good time and could’ve stayed longer, I suddenly decided it was time to go and I headed back to my hotel, Caesars Palace.

I got here about 1am, valet parked the car, came inside, and immediately veered off in search of the nearest bathroom.

I do what is needed and I’m washing my hands and a man walks into the bathroom and I catch a glimpse of him in the mirror and he looks familiar.  So I look again, trying not to, you know “look” because it’s a men’s room and that’s just a little weird, but I look anyway and I bet you see the punchline coming already….

It’s Dr. Wile E. Coyote.

We are both stunned to see each other at 1am in a bathroom in Caesars Palace and we go outside into the casino and talk.  He tells me that he’s here in Vegas for a conference and then goes on to apologize profusely for the disappearing act, explains what happened (it’s a long story but involves business stuff), tells me that he isn’t in Pasadena but in the same building only on a different floor, and then asks how I am.

So I tell him.

He gave me his new office number and his personal cell phone and is demanding that I come in to see him next week.  He isn’t saying that he will recommend something different than what Dr. Kangaroo recommended, but he is concerned enough about it that he wants to go over the PET scan himself.

I walked away from this so completely gobsmacked that I was nearly in tears.  I can’t begin to explain to you how many different things could have made that random, chance meeting in a bathroom in Vegas at one in the morning not happen – I mean the odds are astronomical.

But this is Vegas, I guess – the land of long shots – and I can’t help but feel that I may have just hit a jackpot.

listen

TYOLD Day 56: Sideshow

I wrote a TV pilot – I’ve actually written many, most of which have sat in the proverbial drawer and nothing has ever become of them – but this particular one was for a show called “The Life.” It’s a family drama about a woman’s journey with breast cancer inspired, a little bit, by my friend Mary’s experience. By that I don’t mean it was specifically about what happened to Mary but more that it was about the spirit and some of the lessons I learned during that – lessons that were reinforced when I got cancer later.

A big one is that life goes on. It doesn’t stop just because you get cancer. No matter how much I would have liked the world to change from orbiting around the sun to orbiting around me-me-me, the regular happenings of life – big, small, mundane, exciting, sad, happy, tragic, and otherwise – just keep on happening.

The other big lesson was that cancer doesn’t just happen to the person who has it, it happens to all the people around that person.

That’s what inspired the show: the idea that a person gets cancer but it isn’t the end of life or the beginning of a new life, it’s just “life.”

The pilot is called “Sideshow” and for the bulk of the episode you are immersed in the life of Jamie Harrington, a woman in her late thirties with a sweet but needy husband, two demanding kids, a pain-in-the-ass job, an ogre of a boss, a recently divorced mother, a screwed up brother, and a best friend in crisis. At the very beginning of the episode she mentions that she has to go in for a physical but then her brother’s relationship with a friend of hers implodes; her boss threatens to fire her unless she fixes a problem at work; she has to buy a birthday present for her difficult mom; her friend’s business and marriage are in jeopardy; her husband gets in a car accident; she backs her car into a pole; and on and on and on her life goes.

Then in the final scene she goes in for the physical and the doctor finds a lump in her breast. She delivers this monologue:

JAMIE
I remember when I was about eight, Dad took me to this carnival down at the fairground. One of those traveling things with rides that probably aren’t safe and animals that look like they are about ready to drop. I didn’t really want to go because they kind of scared me. The rides. It wasn’t about being scared to ride them it was more about… just the way these sort of big things loomed and hulked out over the fairground. Shaped like a giant octopus and a pirate ship. So I didn’t want to go but Dad insisted. “We’re going to have a fun family outing whether you like it or not!”(laughs)
So we get there and all the other kids were running from ride to ride and I wanted nothing to do with any of it until I saw the sideshows. This long row of bizarre attractions like the bearded lady and the three headed goat or whatever.
(beat)
I was wearing a blue dress. It’s weird what you remember.
(beat)
Anyway, I was there for hours. And I totally forgot about all the big scary rides because I spent the entire time just fascinated with the sideshows.
(beat)
I was too distracted by the sideshow to pay attention to the big scary stuff behind me.

My point is – and I swear I have one – that last week was one of sideshows for me. Shingles and way too much pain and too many painkillers and planning a trip to Vegas and trying to keep up with work and writing my Vegas site and writing a novel and binge watching House of Cards and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and on and on and on that I kind of forgot about the PET scan I had to examine the “indeterminate” results from the previous tests.

I got the results this morning.  There’s a spot in my left arm pit. It has grown since the last scan, but is still very, very small – only 11 millimeters. It is likely nothing serious and even if it is something serious it may very well have nothing to do with the last round of cancer. The problem is that according to my oncologist Dr. Kangaroo, it is too small to do anything about right now. They would not be able to get an effective sample to do a biopsy and if they just went in to cut it out there’s a chance they could miss it all together. You might remember that a year ago a similar thing happened with a single, very small spot and there was a very expensive, very painful surgery that couldn’t find the actual spot (or may have gotten unknowningly). The bottom line is that there’s just not enough information to figure out what is going on other than “something is going on.”

So Dr. Kangaroo is recommending waiting and repeating everything in about 8-10 weeks to see where we are at. If it has grown more, then we can do a biopsy and/or just go cut the little fucker out. If it hasn’t, then it is just a benign nothing and I can move on.

I’m not terribly happy with this strategy. Those who know me well know that patience is not exactly a strong suit and I have done entirely too much “waiting” with this crap over the last couple of years. It’s a wee bit stressful, which may be why crap happens like getting shingles. I may go schlep out to Pasadena to see Dr. Wile E. Coyote, my former oncologist, and see what he has to say about it.

But in the meantime I’m going to Vegas tomorrow through Monday so I will be doing a lot of Differentlies but postings on here may not be as daily.

After all, Vegas is the ultimate sideshow.

BTW, in case you’re interested and/or are a TV network executive and want to read The Life, here are the first three episodes:

The Life Episode 101: Sideshow:  life_101

The Life Episode 102: Waterfall life_102

The Life Episode 103: Crack in the Pavement life_103

sideshow

TYOLD Day 55: Quiz Master

I went back to work today (as in worked at the office instead of worked from home).  That was kind of a mistake.  Ouch.  So during lunch I decided to disconnect a bit and do something mindless.

I had been reading a story about the increasing popularity of those stupid “What Type Of…” quizzes that are everywhere so I sat down to do 10 of them on Buzzfeed.  I want that 30 minutes of my life back, but here are the ones I took and my results:

Which European Country do you belong in?
You got: Norway.
You’re extremely reliable, independent and tolerant. You hate injustice more than anything in the world. You love nature and you’re always up for a new adventure.

My comment: I love nature?  I’m sorry, but my idea of roughing it is a hotel without room service.

Which Weird Subculture Wedding Will You Have?
You got: Cybergoth Wedding
This is the Neuromance of a Lifetime.

My comment: Well, this one wasn’t fair.  I think the chances of me having a wedding of any kind are pretty low but a subculture one?  Unless you count Vegas with an Elvis impersonator as subculture, I’m out.

What Is Your Biggest Flaw?
You got: You’re too judgmental.
Be proud, Judge Judy. If someone is about to do something ridiculous, it’s not like you didn’t try to warn them.

My comment: Well, yes, this one is fairly accurate but trying to figure out which one of my many, many flaws is the biggest is like trying to figure out which Kardashian is the trashiest.

Which Completely Unnecessary Home Accessory Are You?
You got: Recycled Metal Hen
You voice is truly one of a kind. There may hundreds and thousands of similar hens out there, but your “artisanal attitude” has given you your own “unique coloring and shape.”

My comment: Um… with the what now?

What Would Be Your Fate in the Hunger Games?
You got: DEATH. You were engulfed in flames.
You were talented at staying hidden, foraging on the surrounding fauna. Unfortunately, you got a little too comfortable in the forest and overslept one morning. You didn’t even notice the manufactured forest fire until it was too late. May you rest in sizzling, toasty pieces.

My comment: Totally not surprising.

Joss Whedon Heroine
You got: Zoë Alleyne Washburne
You’re a pistol. You have zero time for liars and needless drama. You’re driven, goal-oriented, and have excellent judgment. If there’s a conflict, you know how to deal with it diplomatically without wasting time. You’re also quick as a whip, and extremely loyal to your close circle of loved ones.

My comment: She’s great but I totally wanted to be Buffy or at least Willow when she was a kick ass witch.

Which House of Cards Character Are You?
You got: Garrett Walker
Ah jeez. Sorry, you got the President. Hey, at least you’re in charge right?

My comment: Now that just sucks.  I’m SO Claire Underwood.

Which Muppet Are You?
 You got: the Swedish Chef
You don’t have eyes, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t the best chef in the land.

My comment: I can live with that.

What City Should You Actually Live In?
You got: Barcelona
You are a little bit of everything: half party, half pensive. You’re just as happy out clubbing as you are spending a long dinner with friends. You’re known to have a unique taste in everything, and you’re proud of it.

My comment: Yeah, I’m “happy out clubbing.”  That’s me.

What State Do You Actually Belong In?
You got: Vermont
You like to take things one step at a time making sure things are done properly. You’re someone who appreciates every moment and are never someone to get too worried about this or that. You’re always up for hanging with friends or just exploring on your own. You’ve also got some great syrup, so there’s that.

My comment: VERMONT?!  Maybe for a few weeks when the leaves are changing but as soon as I see a snowflake I’m getting my ass back to Cali baby.

Swedish-chef

TYOLD Day 54: Vegas A-to-Z

I freely admit that I’m whiffing a bit on my Differently for today.  I’m still not feeling great from the whole shingle catastrophe and it was a perfect, lazy Sunday to do absolutely nothing.

But I did work on my weekly Vegas column this morning (my 656th over the last 15 years!!) and came up with a fun new way to look at Vegas – by assigning a “winner” of a best hotel, restaurants, bar/nightclub, attraction, shop/store, or show to each letter of the alphabet in literal Vegas A-to-Z.  After 656 columns, it’s hard to come up with new, different, original stuff so I’m going to use this for my Differently today (so there, nyah).  The full piece is over here on Vegas4Visitors.com but here’s the short version:

A – Absinthe
There is lots of competition here including the fabulous Alizé restaurant, the fun and informative Atomic Testing Museum, and the wonderful Aria hotel but I’m going to have to give A to this gleefully profane skewed take on Cirque du Soleil style theatrics that remains one of my favorite shows in town.

B – Bartolotta
I considered giving B to Bellagio, Blazing 7 Slot Machines, or even the Bonanza Gift Shop but in the end had to go with the most amazing Bartolotta and its deliriously fresh Mediterranean specialties.

C – The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Contenders here included Clint Holmes, Caesars Palace, and a trio of C-capped restaurants including Citizens Kitchen, Culinary Dropout, and The Cupcakery but The Cosmo takes the letter for its hip and fun updating of what a Las Vegas casino/hotel can be like.

D – Downtown Container Park
This terrific new addition to Downtown Las Vegas features shopping, dining, drinking, and a fire breathing praying mantis. That combo helped it beat out the worth options of The Downtown Grand and the Discovery Children’s Museum.

E – Eat Downtown Las Vegas
It’s the beignets, really, that made me tip the E to this wonderful little Downtown Vegas eatery over strong competition including Encore, Emergency Arts, and Exotics Racing.

F – Fountains of Bellagio
You can never go wrong with the iconic water show at the Bellagio, although I’ll admit it was a tough choice considering the other possibilities. First Friday, the Fremont Street Experience, Fleur restaurant, or the Forum Shops would have made good representatives for the letter F.

G – Green Valley Ranch
I enjoy the Grand Canal Shoppes and think the Golden Nugget is one of Downtown’s best hotels. Plus Gilley’s, on the Vegas Strip at Treasure Island, is still a fun place for a rootin’ tootin’ good time. But this one was really no contest – G belongs to Green Valley Ranch, one of the best locals’ hotel-casinos in town.

H – Hash House a Go Go
It’s possible that the High Roller Observation Wheel will steal the H after it opens but for now that letter is owned by the delicious, twisted farm food at Hash House.

I – Insert Coin(s)
Just because there isn’t a lot of competition for this letter doesn’t mean that Insert Coin(s) was somehow a lesser choice. This fun video game inspired bar and nightclub is one of the best in Downtown Las Vegas.

J – Jeff Civillico
The crazed antics in comic juggler Civillico’s show at The Quad will keep audiences of all ages entertained, from kids wowed by the stunts to adults appreciating his off kilter sense of humor. Other J options included JabbaWockeeZ at Luxor and the JW Marriott hotel.

K – KGB
The best burgers in Vegas are found here at Kerry Simon’s joint at Harrah’s. It’s hard to beat that although the eye-popping spectacle of KÀ by Cirque du Soleil certainly came close to doing so.

L – L’Atelier
This one was tough. In restaurants you’ve got Michael Morton’s Downtown “instant classic” La Comida and the Cajun wonders at Lola’s. In nightlife there’s the fun speakeasy concept of The Lady Silvia along with the Cirque du Soleil powered nightclub Light at Mandalay Bay. Plus, Le Rêve at Wynn Las Vegas is like Cirque’s darker, more visually arresting sister. All worthwhile considerations but there was no way, really, for me to do anything other than give L to L’Atelier, the mind-blowing (and mind-blowingly expensive) restaurant at MGM Grand. Eat here and you will remember it for the rest of your life.

M – Michael Jackson ONE
This was probably the hardest letter for me to choose a winner in. I mean, look at the list of competitors: Mac King, Mystére by Cirque du Soleil, Mesa Grill, Mon Ami Gabi, Mirage Dolphin Habitat, The Mob Museum, Megabucks slot machines… the list goes on and on. But I remain in awe of the music, artistry, and Cirque presentation of Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay and so had to give it the M.

N – Neon Museum
Restoring and maintaining Vegas’ history of neon art wins the N for the Neon Museum over it’s only real competition New York-New York.

O – Old Homestead Steakhouse
The easy choice would have been to give O to O by Cirque du Soleil. I mean, it’s right there – how obvious could it be? But I wound up going in a different direction, probably because I’m hungry as I write this. If you can afford it, there are no better steaks in town than found here at this temple to all things beef at Caesars Palace. An honorable mention has to go to the Oh My Gosh Ganache cupcake at The Cupcakery. Dessert, don’t you know.

P - Penn & Teller
There were some good challengers here in the form of the Pinball Hall of Fame and the new Kerry Simon eatery in Downtown Vegas called Pork & Beans, but P is for the princes of prestidigitation, Penn & Teller, whose show at The Rio continues to be one of the smartest in town.

Q – The Quad
Okay, this one was mostly because there is no other Q worthy of even mentioning that I could think of. But in its defense, you kind of have to tip your hat to the changes being made at the former Imperial Palace. The rooms still need a LOT of help, but the casino, restaurants, bars, and other main parts of the building have gotten some seriously nice upgrades and its worthy of a nod.

R – Red Rock Resort
I thought about the fantastic Japanese delights at Raku Grill (I’m hungry, remember?) and the fun throwback shopping found at Retro Vegas, but this locals’ resort takes the R-shaped cake for its combination of beautiful design, gorgeous rooms, and relatively affordable costs.

S – The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
It’s possible that SlotZilla will zip past the competition when it opens in the spring, but for now The Smith Center is owning S for its wonderful blend of world-class performing arts center and intimate local venues.

T – Todd’s Unique Dining
If you want gourmet quality food but don’t want to pay gourmet prices, get off The Strip to this out-of-the-way delight that serves up some of the finest cuisine in Vegas. Other options included Table 10, Todd English PUB, Top of the World, Toy Shack, and my favorite table game, Three Card Poker.

U – Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em
This table game is a relatively low-stress way to introduce yourself to the world of Texas Hold ‘em. Plus it’s the only U I could think of.

V – Vegas! The Show
I love this throwback revue at Planet Hollywood but I have to admit it was a tough choice given the wonderful, handmade concoctions at Vanguard Lounge.

W – Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign
Wynn Las Vegas would have been the obvious choice and of course you can’t deny the most popular slot machine ever with Wheel of Fortune, but the sign is iconic and nothing says Vegas (literally) better.

X – XS
Here’s another one where there wasn’t a lot of choice but it doesn’t mean this isn’t a great nightclub. Located at Encore, it’s one of the few that feels relatively grown up and remains one of the hottest in town.

Y – You
There wouldn’t be Vegas with you, so you – whoever you are – win this letter. And yes, it’s primarily because I couldn’t think of anything else that started with a Y.

Z – Zombie Apocalypse Store
Grrr. Arrgh.

list_vegasaz_490x275

TYOLD Day 53: 9 Things

A few weeks ago I read this article about cleaning out the clutter from your life, both figuratively and literally, and it suggested a monthly purge of 9 things.  Take 9 things you don’t use (or rarely use or are tired of using) and donate them, throw them away, burn them, run them over with your car, drop them in the ocean, or whatever other method you choose to remove them from your life.

Don’t do any of those last three… burning things is illegal, running them over with your car can wreck your car, and the ocean one is just pollution.  Give a hoot.

woodsy

Anyway, I can’t find the article anymore and I don’t remember why 9 was the magic number, but it stuck in my head (so apparently it was magic) so today, since I was feeling a bit better, I decided to do that for my Differently.

BTW, better, in this case is definitely relative.  I seem to have moved from the debilitating pain portion of shingles to the severe discomfort portion, which probably qualifies as “better” although it is stretching the definition of the word rather thin, I believe.  I did feel good enough to warrant an expedition out of the apartment, a lovely change of pace over the rather monastic life I have been living the last week.

So I hobbled around my house and picked out my 9 things.  They were:

  1. A suitcase that had seen better days
  2. A bag of clothes (which I counted as 1 thing)
  3. A pair of speakers (ditto)
  4. A set of headphones that I won at a Christmas party raffle
  5. A phone/clock/alarm thing that was very 1993
  6. A CD/radio thing that was very 2004
  7. A pre-Blu-Ray/wireless DVD player that was very 2007
  8. A stuffed animal that came with some flowers from work when I was recovering from my cancer surgery
  9. A pair of lampshades that were brand new that didn’t fit the lamps I have but I was too lazy to take them back so that sat in my closet for 4 months (eventually I bought a different pair of lampshades and THOSE didn’t fit either but I was going to be damned if I was going to let those rot, so I went and bought new lamps to fit the new lampshades)

I took it all to the new Out of the Closet Thrift Store that opened up just down the street from me recently and booyah – I feel 9 things lighter, for whatever that’s worth.

 

TYOLD Day 52: Savannah’s Squares

I have been working on a novel – an epic, really – that I’ll tell you more about later, but the important thing about it as it relates to The Year of Living Differently is that I learned, today, about Savannah, Georgia’s squares.

A big chunk of the book takes place in Savannah, a city I consider to be one of the most beautiful in the world.  I’ve been twice, most memorably on one of the Plucky Survivors trips with Mary in 2008.  We stayed at a beautiful inn overlooking Reynolds Square and walked around the city (in the stifling humidity and heat) and saw a bunch of others, but I never really knew all that much about them.  As research for the book, now I do.

Savannah was built through the 1700 and 1800s around a series of park squares; 24 of them to be exact. Each one is different. Some are blocks long and wide, others barely postage stamp in size.  Some have monuments or fountains, while others are simply lawns and trees.  Some are more famous than others for one reason or another.  Monterey Square, for example, was where you can find Mercer House, once owned by the singer Johnny Mercer and later the home made infamous as a murder scene by the book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Another, Chippewa Square, is also known as “Forest Gump Square,” since that movie’s bus stop bench scenes were filmed there.  One is even a graveyard, of sorts.  Wright Square is the final resting place of Tomochichi, the Indian chief who welcomed the first colonists to the area.

Of the 24 original squares, 22 of them still exist in what is known as the Landmark Historic District.  Three were lost to urban development but one, Ellis Square, was rebuilt with a modern sensibility (a parking garage rests beneath it).

After my research I have picked a favorite square – the one on which my main character lives – Troup Square.  It is located several blocks south of the main business district and the Savanah River on the eastern side of the historic district.  It was one of the last squares laid out, having been built in 1851.  It isn’t the biggest or most beautiful square – I think the latter prize goes to Whitfield Square a few blocks away, which has a charming gazebo in the center.  But Troup is the most interesting for a bunch of reasons.

First, it has a dog fountain.  Originally installed as a drinking fountain for people in Forsyth Park, a large green expanse in the Historic Victorian District a few blocks to the south, it was later moved to Troup Square and lowered so dogs could use it.  An annual “blessing of the animals” is held every October, turning the already pet-friendly square into a virtual house-pet zoo.

But second, and more important at least to my novel, is the armillary.  Installed with the park when it was built, the globe-like sculpture was designed as a model of the celestial spheres, the arcs on which various planetary objects and the sun moved around earth.  A lance through the middle, with a starburst on one end and an arrowhead on the other, is surrounded by several rings including one that has the various signs of the zodiac on one side (the Crab for cancer and the ram for Aries for example) and Roman numerals representing the months of the year on the other.  The whole thing sits on a base supported by six turtle figurines.

The exact meaning of all of this is apparently lost to time but I’m choosing to believe that it’s more than just a sculpture; it’s a guidepost of sorts – a map of the universe.  When you read the book (presuming I ever finish it), you’ll understand why this is important and why it’s cool bit of synergy that I hadn’t expected to find.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Who wants to go to Savannah with me to see it in person?

troup

armillary

TYOLD Day 51: Radioactive Shingles

Because of my different oncologist, I had to get my PET scan in a new place today – the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center in Burbank.  It’s significantly nicer than the place in Glendale I had been going to, which had the Liberace lobby and was located in a strip mall.

But it had a certain charm and a really hot guy technician so I have to say I kind of missed it.

The Disney Cancer Center is where my oncologist, Dr. Kangaroo, is located also so I’m not new to the building but new to the radiology and nuclear medicine department in it.  Everything there is all very well maintained and relatively new and the people are nice and it’s all very Zen.  They had a big screen TV in the waiting room showing video of various waterfalls.

When I was at the doctor the other day for the shingles saga, the TV was showing The Price is Right.  If you can’t figure out which one I preferred, you don’t know me at all.

The technician, who I’ll call Phillip (because that’s his real name and I’m too stoned on painkillers to come up with something funny to replace it with), walked me through everything as if I’d never done it before even though I explained that I had, but I appreciated it anyway.

He checked my glucose – apparently if it’s too high it’ll screw up the scan – then injected me with the radioactive isotope.  It’s very cold when it goes in, which I’ve always thought was strange.  You think nuclear and you think hot.  Whatever.

I was quite loopy by this point because I had taken both a Percoset and a nerve blocker pill before walking in; the shingles are causing a great deal of pain and I was worried about lying in the tube for that long unable to move.  So after the injection comes the quiet time in a recliner while the isotope works its way through your body.  Unlike the Glendale facility where they tell you not to do anything – no moving, no reading, no Angry Birds, no email, etc. – here they said I could listen to music or read the magazines on the table.  I fell asleep instead.

An hour or so later Phillip took me in to the scan room.  The machine here is different.  In Glendale it was basically like two big donuts, each one several feet thick.  Here is was more like one big cannoli.  I got into a gown, laid down, and put my arms in the pillowcase I had brought.  This was a trick I learned at the Glendale facility.  Since you have to lay there with your arms above your head for an hour, putting them in a pillowcase reduces the pressure and allows you to relax your arms more.  It’s not exactly comfortable but a lot less uncomfortable than trying to hold them there.  Phillip was impressed.

I promptly fell asleep again and about 45 minutes later the scan was done and I was on my way home.

I’m pretty sure now that the combination of meds I’m on for the shingles (antiretrovirals, steroids, three different types of painkillers) and all the meds I take for everything else that’s wrong with me combined with the radiation is going to give me some sort of villainous super power.

Of course with my luck it’ll be something lame and totally useless.  Like I’ll be able to turn liquids into solids with the touch of my hand but it will only work on a few things like split pea soup and certain puddings.

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TYOLD Day 50: The Trevor Project

I’m a little too broken to do anything too original for my Differently today.  For the record, shingles suck.

But this pain is transitory and temporary and will get better eventually and I will forget about it and move on and I was thinking about that and how kind of selfish it is to be whining about how much shingles sucks when there are lots of other people out there suffering more and longer than I am.  (That run on sentence brought to you by Percoset).

So, to extend my random acts of kindness in a low-impact kind of way, I decided to make a donation to an organization that I have always respected but never actually done anything for. 

I chose the Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline dedicated to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death for gay youth in the United States?  Approximately 30% of gay youth attempt suicide near the age of 15 and they are 2 to 6 times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual youth. Conservative estimates say that about 1,500 gay kids kill themselves each year.

The Trevor Projects operates a 24 hour a day phone line (plus text, and chat hotlines) for kids in crisis.  They also have educational material for adults (parents and teachers especially) to help identify at risk kids, arrange education and training for youth and adults, and much more.  It’s a terrific organization and I’m proud that my differently today was to donate a little bit of money to hopefully help someone who is going through something much worse than a nasty case of shingles.

Learn more at TheTrevorProject.org.

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