Everything That's Wrong With Me


My dermatologist doesn’t want to see me anymore.

I don’t know why. I used to love her. She was great to me. I thought we had a nice rapport. But in October I got a letter from her that said she would be closing her office, moving out of state, and not keeping in touch. She left no forwarding address. Her letter said this would all happen on October 14th.

I got the letter on October 15th.

The whole thing was very suspicious. Was she deported to another state? Did she lose her license? Did it turn out she didn’t know what she was doing all along? Was it me? I think it's a bad sign when even your dermatologist doesn't want to see you anymore.

Just, just leave me alone OK? Take your retched skin somewhere else!

Is my naked body really that atrocious? I mean I know it's a bit… reflective, but still. 

Luckily I found a new dermatologist. Which is good because I need a dermatologist on call. Especially in the winter when my epidermis pretty much just quits. 

If I don't moisturize my hands every 2 hours in the winter they crack and shrivel like a pair of sun-dried tomatoes… except not as delicious

So I find myself applying hand lotion regularly, in the morning, at night, several times throughout the day. However it is almost always right before I need to turn a doorknob or open a jar. So I look like a terribly stupid weakling with no grasp (literally) on modern technology.

Hey can you help me with this door?
Why is it stuck?
Oh… no.

At least I knew what to do about my dry useless hands. But then I noticed I had dry skin under my arms, both of them.

Great.

A new skin disease I had to worry about.

You see the dermatologist who left me kindly informed me last summer that I had psoriasis on my scalp. Silly me, I thought it was just a normal person problem like dandruff. No, it was something way more annoying.

My dermatologist told me I had two options for managing this awesome new addition to my life. My first option was an odorless steroid mousse that I would need to use twice a day for a week. She said that it would probably work.

Oooh steroids, maybe I'd get some muscles. But then I realized I hadn't worked out since ‘09 so that probably wasn't going to happen.

The other option was to put this incredibly stinky… stuff on my scalp every night for a week and sleep with a shower cap on. She said it would definitely work.

Having a medical professional tell me to sleep with a smelly shower cap on would probably be something that would make my wife laugh at me, something that would bind us together in embarrassment, and something that only my wife could love me for.

But I don't have a wife. Which just makes this another embarrassing addition to my private life. This would be really fun to tell to women.

Hey do you want to come back to my place? By the way I sleep in a shower cap that smells like the devil and I have armpit dandruff… More wine?

Sigh.

So aside from my lame scalp, and my deficient hands, I thought the dry armpit skin might be due to my deodorant. So I switched to a "24 Hour Natural Deodorant.” I now realize that is a phrase that should be banned by law.

When I took off the cap it smelled like lemons and maple syrup. Awesome, I support that.

However shortly after applying it I realized the label should have said "2 Hour Natural Odorant; Guaranteed to make you self loathing before lunch."

Which by the way, I looked up the meaning of the word “odorant” and it said:

An odorous substance; especially: one added to a dangerous odorless substance to warn of its presence.
And that sounds about right.

Hey guys do you smell that? Oh my god it’s Rich, RUN!

I caught a whiff of my own scent halfway through the day and almost punched myself in the face for being so stupid. The “deodorant” didn’t just quit, I think it switched sides. As though the task at hand was just too much for it.

I don’t think I can suppress this… but wait… I can make it worse!

Thank god my company supplies spray deodorant, which I then applied liberally while still wearing my shirt because I didn't want to be the guy standing topless at the company bathroom sink.

But applying spray deodorant with your clothes on is challenging. And it’s difficult to aim. So I’m pulling my shirt away from my body with the same arm that I’m trying to elevate so I can point this industrial can of aerosol stink remover at my dilapidated armpit. Naturally people walked in.

Hey Rich what are you doing?
Oh just… fumigating my shirt.

By the time I could finally get to my new dermatologist to tell him about my scalp, and hands and armpits I was exhausted. I fully expected my skin to just fall off one day like a snake’s.

I told my dermatologist about all of my issues, he gave me suggestions and solutions for all of it. Then I told him about my armpits.

He laughed and said

Ahhh, you’re getting old.

That’s not really the answer I was hoping for.

He told me that this happens at my age (28 is not that old people) and it’s due to the winter when it’s very dry and people take very hot showers. So he advised I take showers that were not as hot and moisturize under my arms.

Yea derm, twice last week I forgot to zip up my fly before I left my apartment but I'm definitely going to remember to put some lanolin in my armpit twice a day.

Sigh.

Maybe I should just see if there's some armpit mousse.

Fiji - Getting There

I am a big fan of the weather. I enjoy experiencing a wide assortment of elements throughout the year. I like the variety and the changing of the seasons. Granted when I was in Arizona and we had 330 days of sunshine... that wasn't bad either.

This winter in New York though is easily the snowiest I can ever remember. It seems like it has snowed every single week when usually it seems we don't get our first big snow storm until February.

And since I live and work a block away from a subway stop, and don't have a car, the fact that we have been virtually abused by snowfall hasn't made me that upset. Honestly the city is prettier under new fallen snow. Granted the nasty black tire slurpee the streets turn into after it snows is another story but hey, I try to see the good.

Usually New York winters get so brutally cold that your face freezes and the wind makes you angry. You find yourself walking up the street at a forty-five degree angle on a particularly blustery day screaming at the wind:

Stop it! Just stop damn it!

But when it snows it at least gives the cold purpose. Like that was its job, to produce cold. And it succeeded. Good job weather!

And I do love the snow. I think it’s beautiful and amazing. I revel in it. I stare at it. I soak it in. I take pictures of it. I think it is the coolest thing in the world… until I have to go somewhere.

As the vacation I had spent the last two months planning approached, I became more and more aware of just how panicked the weather can make you (and by you I mean me) when the country’s biggest snow storm and your two week trip to Fiji fall on the same day.

Let me back up.

I won a trip to Fiji last year for a video I made for the Fiji Water Air Pacific contest. Two round trip tickets from Los Angeles to Fiji.



And that's F-I-J-I ladies and gentlemen. Not FIGI as every single person I know seemed to be calling it.

So I had to first get the time off, find a travel buddy, and then actually book the trip, which was like trying to teach an otter to play the saxophone.

At least that’s how it felt.

Here's the abbreviated version:

I call the Fiji hotline 4 different times to check available dates (I didn’t trust the operators I spoke to).

I call Fiji to book my trip. They say call the main office.

I call the main office, they say I must call Fiji back and tell them to book it for me.

I call Fiji back, and the same dude says I must call the main office and go through them.

I say NO! You book it!

He books it.

I have to mail in my certificate proving I won. I do so. They don’t receive it.

Now I have to fax it.

And of course this is the one day of the year I am home sick from work with the winter plague.

At home, I don't have a fax machine. I don't have a scanner. I don't even have really good handwriting. So instead... I now have to schlep myself to the copy store like an idiot. I feel like salty death. Its raining and I am now wearing snow boots, ASU tear away pants, a sweatshirt, and an orange down vest. I look like I am on the starting five of the home depot polar basketball team.

Did I mention I feel like death?

I get to the copy store and essentially… buy a fax? Because that's what I am doing. So I buy one fax to send to the Fiji people to prove I am not some random idiot calling to pretend I won a contest to fly 97 thousand miles around the planet just so I can plant my pasty white ass in the sand. There are a lot of places much closer where I could do that!

Eventually the fax is received and the peasants rejoice. And even though this is a trip that I won, I still have to pay taxes on the tickets. So after the back and forth my credit card is charged for roughly the same amount as the Louisiana Purchase.

And then days before my trip, I read reports of cataclysmic rains attacking Australia and the warning of a CYCLONE heading for that region of the earth the same time I am due to arrive.

It is as this point that I realize I have no idea what the hell a cyclone is.

So I Google cyclone.

And then I Google “How to survive a cyclone” where I find my 2 favorite tips.

Protect yourself with rugs and blankets.

Never assume the cyclone is over.


Right, because I’m sure my jungle beach hut made out of grass in the middle of equatorial nowhere in the middle of the Pacific will have an abundance of “rugs and blankets.” I’m not packing those either.

And never assume the cyclone is over? So what am I supposed to do, just walk around the rest of my life hoping the cyclone is over but carrying a bag full of rugs and blankets just in case?

Hey Rich what’s with all the rugs and blankets?
Oh there was a cyclone 5 years ago, but I’m not sure it’s over yet.


Once I managed to finally wrap my head around that awesome bit of fear the snowstorm of the millennium hits, well, America.

With it comes snow and freezing rain so severe that news anchors are going outside and punching ice... to prove how icy it is.

I even saw a newscaster pointing out all the different kinds of ice. Ice in the snow. Ice in the trees. Ice on the sidewalk. It was like Dr. Seuss was doing the news. Hell it probably would have been better if Dr. Seuss did the news, I love it when things rhyme.

So I check my airline to see there are six flights to Los Angeles the day I leave. The first four have been cancelled before I even wake up. Mine is the sixth. And by the sheer will of the universe, I make it to the airport, onto my plane, and off to L.A with no issues.

And so began 10 of the most amazing days of my life.

To Be Continued…

Snow Problem At All

Just in case you’ve been in an isolation chamber for the last week, I would like to let you know that the world almost ended this week because of a snow storm.

Well, kind of.

Here is an observation for you: The amount of snow you can tolerate is directly proportional to how much physical space you have in a city. If you are in some place like the Italian Alps, bring on the snow. Gallons, tons, oodles of it!

If you are in a cramped place like New York City? Eight snow flakes fall and every grocery store turns into a Black Friday sale with people killing each other to get milk and bread into their wagon.

Why?

Why does 1 snow storm make people feel they need to go out and buy enough groceries to last them through the end of the next decade?

It snows every year in New York. But some winters are worse than others and when the hype surrounding a snow storm starts, people go bat guano crazy.

That is assuming of course, that the snow actually comes.

If, like last week, the blizzard actually comes, congress shuts down, crime stops, and there is nothing to report about except the snow. So you have these ridiculous news reporters out in the snow demonstrating to us just how snowy the snow storm is.

Reporting at its finest.

First of all they feel the need to take a ruler and put it in the snow to show you how much snow is out there.


As though we wouldn’t believe them otherwise. Like this idiot is going to get on camera and go;

Uh yea so far today we got about… umm…like… 200 feet of snow.

Then they do things like pick up the snow and have the cameraman zoom in as they mash it between their finger tips to show the texture.

They also get a shovel and shovel 1 scoop of snow and toss it into the street to show how heavy the snow is.

Thank you for that. I was just sitting here wondering what the procedure was for shoveling now but you went and showed me.

Meanwhile some poor shmo is standing off camera waiting to get his shovel back so he can continue cleaning off his sidewalk in peace like he was before the van full of Cronkites rolled up to give in-depth interviews with the snow.

Last week, not even exaggerating here, I saw a newscaster crawl through a snow igloo some 8 year old had made.

How does this help anybody?

I can imagine the conversation going on off camera that led to this Journalism school graduate to risk being crushed by 50 pounds of snow to demonstrate that… the snow is real?

As though there is some couple in New York watching TV as they get ready in the morning;

Wife: Hey hunny what does the weather forecast say? How bad is the snow?
Husband: Well, it’s enough to build an igloo that you can crawl through.
Wife: Enough to build an igloo?! Well then I should put on my “Enough snow to build an igloo boots” then.

Every newscast goes into crisis mode using the same huge news fonts and dramatic music they would use if there had been a terrorist attack.

Might I point out that what is falling from the sky is snow… not grenades.

I understand that bad things can happen with inclement weather, and it can adversely affect people but you do not need to bring me 24/7 coverage of the snowstorm 2010 as it happens. Here is how the news broadcast could actually happen.

We apologize for interrupting your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this late breaking story.

It is snowing. Bad. Stay home.

Now back to CSI Sheboygan.

Much like last year I was able to get a snow day off of work when the Snowpocalyptic Snowmaggedeon hit. Seeing as I was out of groceries (big surprise) I made the decision to go out and get a couple of slices of pizza from the place around the corner.

Well of course since I had stopped watching the idiots on TV I didn’t realize that this was probably the worst time to go. Just walking the 200 yards to the pizza place I felt like I was trying to return the one ring to rule them all to the depths of Mordor. The snow was blowing 100 miles an hour up into my nose. The walk isn’t shoveled. And I’m running, like an idiot, in snow boots because I’m starving and really want pizza.

And running through that much snow, in boots, there is really no way to not look like a complete idiot because you have to move every single part of your body just to generate enough momentum to keep going forward. Add a pizza box into the mix and people driving by must have though I escaped from a mental pizza institution.

By the time I got back in my apartment with my soaked pizza box I felt like I had just run a triathlon.

I was outside for 3 minutes tops and I was exhausted. It reminded me of when I still lived at home and had to shovel out my car.


Most snow is fun up until the point at which you have to relocate it.

I definitely do NOT miss that about living in the suburbs. Shoveling snow. Jesus. That is about the worst thing in the world. I used to really like going outside in the middle of the night to shovel the snow as it fell. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. And it’s easy when there is only 1 or 2 inches on the ground, its pitch black outside, and you are the only one around. It’s all very Zen.

But then the next morning there is 96 inches of snow, your cars have been sealed into the driveway by 3 different snow plows and you’re trying to move tons of frozen white shit with a 15 year old chipped piece of plastic attached to the end of the stick. You pull a muscle in your back, your sweating; so you take off a coat, and then your sweat is now freezing.

Yea, that I don’t miss.

Cold Hard Facts

I don’t want you to think that I hate winter. I really don’t. But February is about the point in the year in New York when dramatic frustration starts to set in. Here is why.

The cold is getting annoying.

I know I don’t live in some frigid place like Chicago, or Canada. You guys have it way worse. I get that. But it’s all relative, and as far as New York goes, the last 2 weeks in this city have been frigging freezing.

All this super bowl coverage of Miami isn’t helping either. I wake up and watch a special report from the pretty people pool at the Fufu Shishi hotel with all these tanned and glistening bodies in the sun.


 And then I go outside and the cold hits me in the face like a frozen punch of awful.

It’s been so cold in New York lately people won’t even walk down the streets. They are outside mind you, but they aren’t walking. They are running. But not just running, they are running down the streets screaming curse words at the top of their lungs.

Specifically the F word. That one is extremely popular.

So I’ve started doing it too. I first tested it out in Chicago over New Year’s. And let me tell you, it really does help. In fact while you are doing it, it feels kind of cathartic. It is the only thing that makes sense when it gets this cold outside.

Before I go any further I would like to tell you about a scale I have invented to determine how cold it is outside. The next time you go outside start counting. The amount of seconds it takes you to curse is equal to how awful it is outside.

If it takes 10 seconds it is pretty bad outside. If it only takes 4 seconds, it is really bad.

I went to a play last week with some friends and we had a dinner reservation at a restaurant about 5 blocks away.

Well I couldn’t even count how cold it was outside because before I even left the theater I was swearing up a storm. It was so $#&@%’n cold I thought about just lying down in the street and calling it quits because I didn’t think I could make it.

But I didn’t call it quits. I started sprinting and shouting. And in my sprint I passed other people doing the same. We were like a bunch of screaming fireworks passing each other the middle of the street.

But it’s not just the weather itself. Cold all the time always, ok, it’s awful. But it is the putting on of hats, gloves, dickeys, etc. that I find so exhausting.

Here is what you need before you leave the house in the summer.


Step 1. Get dressed.
Step 2. Leave the house.

I remember finding out that I had gotten a scholarship to Arizona State University. Tempe is known as the Valley of the Sun and temperatures regularly reach 115 in the summer and winters are extremely pleasant. I remember telling all of my friends that I was getting rid of all my pants. Arizona State University was going to pay me to not wear pants.

NO PANTS!

A couple winter weeks at home during break was easy. Plus it was Christmas, it was New Years, there were friends to catch up with. And just when the cold started to get annoying you were headed back to school for one of the 330 days of sunshine that Arizona provided every year.

But I am going on my 5th winter living in New York and it sucks. I mean waiting outside on the train platform is enough to make you go crazy. Now I understand why people carry flasks.

Here is what you need before you leave the house in the winter.


Step 1. Get dressed
Step 2. Select coat from your winter assortment.
Step 3. Put on scarf. Tie yourself some sort of Boy scout/sailor knot hybrid
Step 4. Button, zip, and cinch your coat
Step 5. Put on gloves
Step 6. Put on hat

Then you hustle outside, and get in a car or a train where you stay bundled until you get too warm so you take some of your accoutrements off. But then you arrive at your destination so you have to put them on again. So you rebundle and make your way to work where once inside, you unbundle.

I am not even including all the other ridiculous things you need to do like put on skin moisturizer, and lip balm, and special hand crème that smells like something used to lubricate jet engines because your cuticles are shot and its so frigging dry out you’ve got dandruff and your back hurts because you’re a decrepit 26 year old who tried to squat press his friends when he was 15…

Ahem. I digress.

So by 9 am you’ve gotten dressed and undressed like 4 times already.

God forbid you have to go out for lunch, or you need to run an errand. Any trip outside means bundling and unbundling again. And unless you plan on spending the night at work you have at least 1, possibly 2 bundle/unbundlings ahead of you.

By the time you get to the end of your day you’ve bundled and unbundled 12 times. And for what? Just so you don’t die? I’m honestly not sure it’s worth it. I mean that’s like 60 times a week for at least 3 months. That’s over 700 times a season. No wonder everyone is so frigging tired in the winter. I’m surprised more people don’t end up in the doctor’s office because they pulled their “coat muscle.”

And god forbid you have to wear those modern earn muffs they call 180s that wrap around the back of your head. Now admittedly they work, so I own a pair. But so do half the people on the street. They are an awesome invention. But something must be wrong when half the city is walking around looking like they got their head stuck in a clamp.

If I wasn’t so damn pale I would just move to one of those islands in the Caribbean where guys walk around in a bathing suit and no shirt and make a living unloading the shrimp boat.

Granted I’d probably get melanoma after about 40 minutes. So yea that’s out.

I guess I’ll just stay here. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go finish tying my scarf

Snow Day

I think often about my childhood. I think about the things I did and no longer do, or the things I had and can no longer have. And whenever winter storms blow in, I think about snow days.

As a child there was no greater lottery than getting a snow day. The sheer chance that school would be closed because there was too much awesomeness outside seemed almost unfathomable.

We had a bunch of snow last week in New York and I got something that is as rare as the white whale, an adult snow day. My company has a rule that we must close when New York City schools close. Last Monday my work was closed due to snow.

What follows is a step by step recount of how a typical snow day went as a child and how it did for me last week as an “adult.”

Child: Wake up at 6 am and run to the window to see the snow. Run to the TV to find out if schools are closed. Wait in anxious anticipation. Turn on radio and listen to school closings while watching the ticker on the bottom of the news. Witness my district on the TV as one that’s closing. Jump for joy and celebrate by running around the house and gathering up all snow gear for day of playing in the snow.

Adult: Wake up normal time. See text message announcing work is closed. Text back, “really?” Celebrate by immediately closing eyes and going back to sleep.

Child: Spend 45 minutes putting on long johns, shirts, sweatpants, 2 pairs of socks, snow boots, jacket, gloves, scarf, and hat. Zip everything up closed and tight. Get ready to spend several hours jumping and frolicking in the snow. Realize I have to pee.

Adult: Spend 45 minutes trying to go back to sleep but curse the irony that on my day off I can’t fall back to sleep like I do every other working day. Walk around apartment in boxers and lay down on the couch. Get comfortable and ready to spend several hours not moving. Realize I have to pee.

Child: Run outside and start shoveling the walk into a huge pile on the lawn. Eat entire handfuls of fresh snow. Finish shoveling and immediately jump head first into the pile of snow. Lay there for 20 minutes making snow angels.

Adult: Excited to eat breakfast but too lazy to make something; lay on couch eating entire handfuls of dry cheerios. Go back to bed and dive headfirst into my pillow. Lay there for 20 minutes making bed angels.

Child: Build a snowman. Throw snowballs at trees. Build a fort. Throw more snowballs. Tackle snowman. Build a better snowman. Completely destroy all snow in front yard.

Adult: Wake up 2 hours later. Go back and sit on the couch. Do nothing.

Child: Come inside around noon because I am hungry and have to pee. Strip off 7 layers of snow clothing and realize under it all I am drenched in sweat. Go pee. Sit at the kitchen table where mom has prepared me a most delicious hearty meal of hot soup and grilled cheese.

Adult: Realize I have to pee. Sniff self and realize I stink. Contemplate eating. Think about the simplest possible meal I can make. Pour pre-made soup into bowl and microwave. Put cheese between 2 slices of bread and fry. Eat while lying on the couch.

Child: Redress in snow clothing, boots, coat, jacket, hat, gloves, socks, scarf, zip, zip, zip. Go outside with sled. Walk like a yeti to the park to join all the other kids sledding down the big hill.

Adult: Lay on couch. Watch progressively worse television. Do nothing.

Child: Sled down the hill, run up the hill, sled down the hill, run up the hill. Try to stand on sled while going down the hill. Fall on head. Pretend not to be hurt. Walk around dizzy for 10 minutes.

Adult: Lay on couch. Do nothing.

Child: Trek home from sledding around sunset. Put all clothes in dryer. Have cookies and milk. Run into the living room and plop down on the couch exhausted. Watch afternoon cartoons and finish your day.

Adult: Stuff half a Toblerone bar in my face. Chew while horizontal. Contemplate the meaning of the words “Saturated fat.” Look outside and notice it is getting dark. Decide to shower. Turn off TV and start my day.