I’d Rather Spend Valentine’s Day At Home [Friday Thoughts W/ TeeCoZee]

Good Moleman. I didn’t want to make a fuss, but now that you mention it…it’s Friday, February 15, Two Thousand and Nineteen. The weather in Brooklyn is 47˚ & Pantone 13-4138 and somewhere, somebody is sleeping. Somebody else is sleeping, too. A good portion of people on the West Coast are happily sleeping in their beds, possibly drooling, having a wet dream or better. And here we are in the Eastern Time Zone, being awake like a bunch of suckers. And me? Holy hell, I wish I was still sleeping in my warm bed with the woman I love. But the cat took my spot and I’m on my 14th consecutive week of The Thoughts. I’m not trying to break this streak, no matter how cozy my bed is. So I guess I have some things on my mind…

– I was wandering around downtown Manhattan the other night, seeking refuge from strong winds and weaker bladders. The only problem was that I was not logistically allowed to leave the World Trade Center area, as I was waiting for Rachel to get out of work. In other words, I was Homer Simpson after drinking too many Crab Juices. But it was after 11 and all of the bathrooms in the space vagina Oculus were closed. Finally, through the mist I spotted 2 golden arches. I was at first reluctant. I’ve been to enough 24 hour McDonald’s to know what to expect. A padlocked bathroom, a line that goes back to the door with one runny-nosed employee behind the counter and when you finally get your waterlogged-chained key, you find that a hobo had shat in the middle of the floor and then peed into the center of it to make it look like a volcano or self-contained lake or something. But at this point, I was willing to contribute to the sculpture.

Upon entering the place was a breath of fresh stale fry air. The floors weren’t littered with trash and newspapers. The flickering fluorescents were replaced by the stylistically-placed fluorescents that were really popular with the kids in the mid-aughts. Instead of Reggaeton or Trap, the stereo blasted some tasty Spin Doctors tunes while happy tourists bee-bopped with their hamburgers. The bathroom was even unlocked! There was a burning cigarette ashing into the sink like a stick of incense, but the bathroom was unlocked! This wasn’t a McDonalds. This was the Denver Airport. Or at least, this is what I’d imagine the Denver Airport to be like. And in true Denver Airport fashion, you could “charge your phone” on the multiple power mats installed in every table.
But of course, they didn’t work. I went to the website listed and it also didn’t work. Could it be that the brand new amenities were already outdated? Is technology moving so fast that gadgets are becoming defunct after only a few years only to be replaced by something that’s basically the same thing but made to look brand new? Of course that’s the case. It’s a no-brainer. This McDonalds only proves that the flightiness of our culture makes something hip one day and unhip the next. Like Spin Doctors or the city of Denver. But you know what never goes out of style? McDonalds, I guess…

It is at this point, I should note that this isn’t a happy story, but it does have a happy ending. Also, the Vaporwave Album of the Week is “The Binary Ocean” by Mindspring Memories. I actually recommend that you play it while reading. It helps.

I left McDonalds and headed back to Tower 4 in perfect timing. As I walked up, I could see Rachel through the glass, walking across the lobby. I adjusted my tie and re-gripped the flowers in my hand. Showtime. When she walked out the door, she saw me and froze. She must’ve been surprised that I brought her flowers. Or maybe she was surprised that I was waiting out in the cold this long. Either way, she looked very cute. Her smoking co-workers were also impressed with my display of love. I offered her the flowers and said “Happy Valentine’s Day” but she didn’t really respond.

So I said, “We should get an Uber”
“Where do you get one around here?”
She looked around, “Okay.”
“You don’t know where to get an Uber?”

It was then that I noticed that her pupils were completely dilated. My stomach dropped. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong. I signaled over to her co-workers and asked if she’d been acting strange before. One said no, in fact, they were just having a conversation a few minutes ago. I could see panic in her eyes. I didn’t know what to do. It was as if her brain had been ripped out. It was…as if she had another stroke. She grabbed my arm and started shaking. Her co-workers helped me get her down to the ground and turned on her side. One of them called an ambulance. She started foaming at the mouth. I don’t remember how I reacted, but I know I was crushed inside. Here we go again. Back to the land of hospitals, doctors, pain, lonely nights, crammed schedules and therapists. She had come so far and accomplished so much. And as the flowers fell to the ground, it all got erased. Could she overcome this again? Is this final? Is this our lives now? Will she ever work again? Will she live?

And among those thoughts, they all drifted back to Broad Channel Bagels. A few of us went out to the Jamaica Bay shortly after Hurricane Sandy. We had the best intentions, but truth be told, we were out there for a first-hand taste of disaster porn. But that’s besides the point. We hunkered down at Broad Channel Bagels for a late lunch. The place was dim as it was running from generators. The teeming clientele consisted of firefighters and police. Somber and quiet. You could tell that they’ve all been up for days. Most of them either stared at the ground or out the window. I remember feeling a sudden guilt. These people are sacrificing their lives to save others and here I am, hoping to take pictures of a broken boardwalk. The grills were running on propane tanks and at one point, out of the blue, a fireball shot out from the kitchen. There was a sharp panic that lasted only 10 seconds. Everyone was okay. One of the firefighters shook her head. With tears in her eyes she exclaimed, “I don’t know if I can take much more of this”. I never forgot those words or her thousand mile stare. All I could do is hope that I would never feel her pain. But that night, I got close. As I sat on the cold ground, clutching Rachel’s hand, I muttered that quote.

As the paramedics came, a light snow started to fall. It was something out of an overly dramatic movie. I could picture the camera zooming out above us as I yelled “fuck” to the heavens. Inside the ambulance, things were looking pretty grim. She wasn’t responding to any commands to move her arms or legs. She didn’t know what her name was or my name or the year. That was when the questions starting flooding to me. What happened? What’s her medical history? Is she on medication? What’s her social security number? Who’s going to sign Manny Machado? Do you think it was a stroke or a seizure? Has she acting like this before? I tried my best to answer them while mumbling expletives under my breath.

We arrived at New York Presbyterian at around 1 AM. Luckily, the midnight rush of junkies had already ended and the place was already sleepy. 6 people swooped in when she got wheeled into a room and I was whisked away by two others. I realized, at that point, that I had made a grave mistake. If only we had gone to an NYU hospital, all of her information would already be on file and people would have a much easier time treating her. This butt-fumble could be attributed to the fact that we were worried that she was having another stroke, so time was of the essence. Obviously, the nearest hospital was key no matter how clueless they were. I did the best of my ability to check her in while I could hear her yell “Ow! Fuck!” from behind the curtain. By the time I had her registered, she had already been whisked away to get a cat scan.

Afterwards, they wheeled her back in. Even though her glasses were off, she still recognized me. “Hey baby”, she said, and it was the sweetest words I had heard in months. [I discovered later that “Hey baby” was what she meant to say when she first saw me. Her inability to do so confirmed to herself that something was seriously wrong.] She was totally 100% herself again, she just took a 20 minute vacation. I danced around the empty ER and then paced and then danced some more. The excitement wore off and the boredom started to settle in. There we were, stuck in an ER on Valentine’s Day, with no vacant rooms upstairs.

It was one of the longest nights of my life. She drifted in and out of sleep, but the chair I was in did me no favors. It’s one of those modern pieces that appear to be comfortable, feels comfortable for up to an hour and then becomes total torture afterwards. The perfect waiting room chair. Slouched back enough for cheap thrills and too rigid to promote sleep. Until the day I die, I will never get over how much I hate that fucking chair. Any time I got close to sleeping, it was interrupted by the chatting employees on the other side of the curtain. Two of them had a 45 minute conversation about Once Upon A Time In America. I really wanted to join them, but I hadn’t seen the movie in well over a decade. Also, WHY ARE THEY HAVING A LOUD CONVERSATION ABOUT A 35 YEAR OLD MOVIE AT 5 IN THE MORNING?!? I was also just overwhelmed in thoughts. Thinking of different scenarios that could have happened. What if I wasn’t planning on picking her up from work? What if it happened while she was waiting for a train? There are thousands of different scenarios in which she could have been seriously hurt or even died. How did she end up having it in front of me, surrounded by co-workers, on one of the most heavily-policed blocks in America? How did we end up playing out such a perfect scenario for an imperfect problem? What does it all mean? These thoughts kept me up until the morning shift came and the ER sprung into life.

After hours of getting no further tests done and no real answers or timelines, they finally took her upstairs for an EEG, or as psychopaths call, “electroencephalography”. It’s a test in which they attach 19 electrodes to the scalp to measure abnormal brain activity. The technician acted like Doctor Strange before he had the accident and became a superhero or whatever. He was as eccentrically charismatic as a High School writing teacher and had an affinity for puns and smooth jazz [and also abrasive jazz, fusion jazz and jazzy jazz]. The experience was actually kind of cool. He manipulated the audible aesthetic of the room to promote different brain patterns. I really wanted to recommend some vapors for him to try out, most notably, “The Binary Ocean”, but he was a man of intense concentration. Obviously I never want to see him again, but if another EEG is ever needed, I hope he’s available.

After that, we spent a bulk of the day waiting for her MRI and subsequent results. While we waited, a plethora of crazies filtered in and out. There was a frequent hum of yelling and moaning. One lady stole another patient’s untouched lunch. One guy decided that he had enough, ripped his IV out and successfully escaped. Multiple people were on the brink of death. And all I could do was sit there, brain dead and lost in a haze of sleeplessness. I didn’t eat, I didn’t drink any bevs, I didn’t even catch a glimpse of the outside world. I just couldn’t leave her side. Even though she was okay, there was some implanted defense mechanism that prevented me from walking out for fresh air.

At the end of the day, it was deduced that she had a seizure brought upon randomly from the scar tissue in her brain. There was no further damage to her head and no real way to prevent it except for an upped medication, a rabbits foot and crossed fingers. By the time we were sent on our way, we had spent 18 hours in the ER. Through the waiting, hunger pangs, nausea and turds underneath the toilet seat, we left with not much more information than we came in with. When we got home, there were still 3 hours left of Valentine’s Day. I put the dead flowers in a Harry Potter cup, cried for a little while and then we held each other until we drifted to sleep. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the holiday. And I was never more happy to be home.

We also ate an entire pizza. Like a whole ass pizza.

Try this trick over the weekend: Don’t die. Eat an entire pizza.

Have an extra-cheesy weekend, everyone!