December 29th, 2004

Bert

The good life with paint fumes

My shrink and I have a special relationship. Not a sexual relationship, which is what that often means in reference to a psychologist, but a special one. That's why he felt he could call me at 10:00 last night to ask if I'd go wait for the phone company representative at his new office from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM today. It's also why I agreed, and why I found myself entering a deserted commercial building at 8:03 this morning with a plastic bag loaded with a couple books and a notebook to keep me company. The directions he gave were spectacularly crappy and I encountered yet another situation where having a cell phone turned out to be a good move. A few calls sorted that out.

So I was left in the unfinished office alone at 8:00. It was a complete mess. There were paint chips all over the floor, venetian blinds and a bunch of cardboard and some rolls of stripping lying there. More importantly, because mess doesn't really bother me, the whole place stank of paint fumes and I was light-headed and nauseous within a few minutes of entering. I managed to get the windows open, and by sticking my head out of one of them I was able to get breaths loaded only with the typical level of New York air toxicity, which was quite a relief. So I got to spend the next 3.5 hours either breathing in fumes or sticking my head out into the frigid air with light snow flurries. I'm lucky that I like the cold, or I would have been miserable.

As for how I spent the time (besides the coughing and such) it was pretty enjoyable, if only for the heavy layer of irony I managed to put on the proceedings. I brought my shrink's new book, entitled "The Good Life" and searched in vain for the chapter about standing (no chairs yet) in a room full of plaster dust at 8:07 AM. It wasn't there. (Incidentally the book did say that he's matured as a therapist over the last decade, which is interesting because that's how long I've been with him and I haven't seen any of the new revelations so far. Of course I'm still paying the old rate. I wonder if he's like an ISP. You can stick with the old deal at the old price if you want, but you get the same lousy service you did back when you signed the contract. If you want the benefits of improved technology you have to pony up the extra cash. Am I getting therapy that's 10 years behind the time?)There was a good deal of anti-commercialism sentiment in there, appropriate since the room I was standing in, his new office, is across the street from the new Time Warner building and its mall. Mind you this is not the sort of mall you'll find in Suburbia but rather an indoor shrine to overpriced luxury goods where the moderately wealthy people who cannot afford hirelings to shop for them but do not want to have to travel from store to store on Fifth Avenue (where the riff-raff are actually still LEGALLY allowed to do crass things like look into windows) can go to feel comfortable while spending the gross domestic product of Latvia on a coat of freshly slaughtered Mink skins. There was apparently some sort of limousine competition going down outside the window since I saw up to three of them arrive at one time. The funniest was a group that included a normal town car followed by a stretch town car followed by the Kareem Abdul Jabar of stretch Town cars. Each was met by a white gloved porter. The book reminded me that money doesn't buy happiness.

I was hungry, of course, since I didn't have time to eat breakfast, so naturally the windows directly across from the office I was in happened to belong to the kitchen of a restaurant where I got to watch Hispanic men prepare so much chicken you'd think the Boggs family was meeting there for lunch. Between that and the plaster dust I felt as lightheaded as a Garfield float in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. Fortunately I had my iPod so I was able to keep my wits about me by performing important experiments like "Can you turn gay from listening to wussy songs presumably lusting after women, like 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' or 'Jessie's Girl'?" The answer is not in 3 hours, although I must admit that my wrist started feeling a little limp towards the end, but that might have just been the weight of my iPod, which I clutched in my hand in the hopes that it would not fall out of my pocket on to the sidewalk below while I hung out the window gulping some slightly-fresher-air. At one point some maintenance people showed up and cleared away the paint chips and cardboard crap. They wore air purification masks, which is always comforting when you've spent the last 2 hours in that room without one.

Eventually the phone guy did show up and it's been a long time since I've been that happy to stare at a guy's ass while he messed around with wires in the ceiling. Then I went to work and got the materials necessary for some mailings I need to make while my boss is away. On the subway ride home I listened to Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" and a bunch of Sublime to try and dewussify my ears.

It didn't work.

I also didn't get writing done today. I had a headache from the paint. Que Sera.
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