good for ten years!


i'm sure i've told you about the doctor i had as a kid, dr. dentinger. he was an old man, 6'6" and had to have been well over 250 lbs. a giant of a football player of a monster. he talked in his big, booming voice ("how's my old buddy, james?") and he scared the crap out of me. he'd jam the tuberculosis test into my forearm, ram instruments into my ear, press his dead cold hands deep into my abdomen. my mom wondered why i cried each time she told me it was time to see the doctor.

i've had other doctors since dr. dentinger, but none i really liked until i recently met dr. kawamoto. i went in today for a physical and because i was concerned about depression and anxiety attacks. i told her it ran in the family. she said she'd give me a brief screening from the a.m.a., and she read off questions like, "how often do you feel bad about yourself?" and "have you ever tried to hurt yourself or commit suicide?" i answered as honestly as i could, but i also thought the screening was a little ridiculous because, at the same time, even though i didn't know her well, i wanted her to think highly of me. there was also the fear that one wrong answer could lead to a lifetime of stray jackets and a daily dose of prozac. at the end of it, she declared me depression-less, and free from anxiety attacks, but she still gave me a mental health referral, in case i just wanted someone to talk to.

toward the end of the physical, she asked me the question i had been waiting to hear: "are you sexually active?" i told her the truth, and she made it seem like it was okay that i wasn't. because in reality, it probably is. she told me that if i do become sexually active in the future, i should use condoms and birth control. i just smiled. she then asked me if i had any questions about sex, and if i had a sense of humor i would've said, "yes, how do i get it?" but instead, i just told her no. finally, she started to say something along the lines of, have i given any thought to getting married? but she didn't finish her sentence. she trailed off, and it was like something my boss had done to me before. i didn't get it. older women's fascination with me getting married, but being too embarrassed to ask.

i had to get blood work done and then a tetanus booster shot. the girl who gave me the booster shot was pretty hot, and her name was katie. she stuck the needle in my right arm, and i remembered zack from saved by the bell getting a shot from the hot nurse. the whole thing took less than twenty seconds, and when she finished, she said, "okay, that's good for ten years!" i easily did the math. i wouldn't have to get another one of these until i'm thirty-seven years old.

i went to work, and it was pointless.

after work, i went to the library because i was amazed it was open. they usually close when it's too hot outside, and this afternoon was about 88. in the nonfiction section, i found this book, the lonely american, and here's a sample passage:

so josh came to therapy sessions and regularly complained that he had had a disconnected, lonely weekend in which he slept too much, watched too much tv, and ended up disgusted with himself. what emerged in therapy was that josh's life was so empty because he didn't want anyone to know that he had so little to do. he avoided social situations because he did not want anyone to ask him what he was doing. the reason: he had a nine-to-five job that did not interest him. the kind of crowd he was afraid to face were friends and relatives who were passionate about what they did, who boasted about their sixty-hour workweeks, who were busy all the time. josh had made his life emptier because it was not busy enough to feel like a high-status life. when relatives and friends who hadn't given up on him pressed him about why he hadn't shown up to a particular social event, his usual excuse was that he was just too busy.

i lay in columbia park a short while after reading this. in the distance, some band was practicing "when the saints go marching in." cars with their headlights on whizzed down rainier ave. i could see television sets in windows. i thought about myself in public, always with my headphones on, always tweeting or chatting, never available for anyone immediately around me. i thought about how i invited my neighbors out for drinks one time, and then when no one else ever planned anything, i got frustrated and gave up on ever trying to hang out with them again. i thought about how i have a very small group of friends that i see on weekends if i'm lucky and all the people i've just completely shut out of my life for one reason or another. i thought about how, over the past two years, i've completely disconnected myself from people, only left to wonder why i am so alone.

and then i tried to just not think at all. to get the voice inside my head to just shut up, if only for a minute. it was a challenge.

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