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It's cold out West


I've always suspected that Pamie and I are on some weird parallel life track because we were born one day apart (both early April, same year), but now even though she lives in L.A. and I live in Austin, we both managed to get sick at the exact same time.

I could go into all the other similarities, but it would end up sounding depressingly like I went out of my way to contract flu-like symptoms in order to bolster my case that Pamie is my long-lost Anglo, separated-at-24-hour-length-birth twin.

So I won't do that.

But I'm pretty sick.

The night before last I started sneezing a lot and started releasing phlegm as if I were Hooch from Turner and Hooch. Then yesterday, I picked up echinacea (I love that word, by the way. Say it out loud. It's great fun) Ricola throat drops, some generic cold and flu medicine, and two boxes of Kleenex. The Kleenex boxes are almost gone. All I did at work yesterday was edit stories, sneeze and blow my nose all day. I work in a small office and I felt really bad that I was exposing everybody to my dangerous germs, but I had so much work to catch up on that I didn't even feel I could justify going home early.

So I plowed on, running through my box of Kleenex Expressions! as if I were trying to mop up The River Phlegm.

It's pretty gross.

Last night, Rebecca played Florence Nightingale and overloaded me with warm, diluted orange juice (yuck), Vics Vap-O-Rub (yeah!) and NyQuil. I was lying in bed with a wireless Internet laptop I'm reviewing, and my loaded up Game Boy Color, so when she arrived, I was like Geek Boy Of the Serengetti. In between checking message boards and running around the Web, I was trying to become supreme Pokémon Puzzle Challenge master. I didn't look pathetic or sick at all except that every few minutes, I would lean over to blow out a cubic liter of snot or run to the bathroom to spit out multicolored rainbows of my innards.



I'd only been to Albuquerque once. A few years ago on my way to Phoenix. A quick stop at the airport, looking out the windows at brown mesas.

This time, I was visiting Rebecca, who was staying at her brother's apartment. They picked me up at the airport and took me shopping and the rest of the weekend was a blur of skiing, spa treatments and a visit with Rebecca and my Uncle. My Uncle Rick, my dad's brother, is this amazing guy who has a great amount of patience and who has always been this unseen cultural force in my life.

He's the guy who, when I was very young, let me hang around when he was doing theater and probably gave me the bug to want to do plays and comedy later on.

He's the guy who first introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons, which doesn't sound like a big deal, but it opened up a lot of worlds and a made me much more open to a lot of fiction that I read now and a lot of other interests.

He's living in Santa Fe now, working for a hospital, and he spent the whole day with us Saturday. He took us gambling, giving us each a crisp $20 to spend. I lost it and then ATM'd more money to lose. Rebecca won $50 on slots and paid him back. We had a little divergence in luck there.

Albuquerque was still as brown as I remembered it. I think there's some sort of ordinance in New Mexico that every building has to be made of adobe and has to be the color of a latte. But that strange color glows at sunset and when you're driving near Santa Fe through the mountains, watching the snow reflect the orange in the sky... It's pretty breathtaking.

I wanted to say all these funny, snarky things about my trip, but nothing comes to mind. The people were very nice. The mountains were beautiful. I went shopping and had a great time.

A woman on the ski slopes who was in the same ski class told us that she moved from Austin to Albuquerque. She said Albuquerque feels like a small town. She said it reminds her of what Austin used to be like.

Funny thing is that people who move to Austin from other places always say that about living here. I think she's right though. Austin has changed a lot even in the three and a half years I've been here.

Rebecca said something really funny this weekend. Actually she said a lot of funny things. I keep telling her she needs to give up pharmacy school and try stand-up. She does a killer Thom Yorke impression (usually employed in mocking my devotion to Radiohead). We were at a brewery having dinner and I was saying how cold and drafty it was. "Well it is a drafthouse," she said, matter-of-factly.. Could somebody please give her a round of applause?

One very funny froofy thing we did was go to a spa with Rick. This spa, Ten Thousand Waves (or as I call it, "Ten Thousand Hard Fingers Burrowing Into My Tender Flesh"), is a Japanese spa with kimonos to wear and cute little rooms. We were late getting appointments, so they wouldn't let us do entire packages. Instead we had to do all a la carte treatments.

Rick and I both got short massages and "salt scrubs."

Now the massage I was used to. But I was all sore from skiing and, two days later, I'm really hurting from the massage. Why is it that I always end up more sore than when I walked in when I get a massage?

The salt treatment consisted of something that sounds like it's right out of porn or some Eastern European torture film. First they pour hot oil all over body. Then they sprinkle sea salt all over you (I had a tiny cut on my wrist from skiing and did I jump from having salt poured on it? Yes. Yes, I did.) and make you feel like a pork chop or a honey roasted peanut.

They scour your body hard with all that salt, exfoliating your skin like Ethan Hawke did in Gattaca. I giggled briefly and the very serious therapist, a short man with glasses, asked what was wrong.

"I feel like a French fry," I said. He was not at all amused.

Then they ask you to shower, but don't try to take all the oil off. It's part of the treatment.

I don't mind telling you that I have the softest male skin in Austin right now. I am smooth, baby. I was a-salted.



By the time I got back, I was tired but happy. It was a busy, but really fun vacation.

I spent the flight to Albuquerque finishing up the third Harry Potter book and the flight back playing Pokémon Puzzle Challenge on the Game Boy Color I just bought.

Yes, I'm a big 25-year-old infant. I know.

The sad thing is that I brought a link cable in the secret hope that there would be some kid with another Game Boy I could play against on the flight.

I call it my second childhood.



Have you seen the promos for Temptation Island? That just looks like the biggest ball of guilty pleasure to come down the pike since Showgirls.

Now, here's the smart way to play that game. If you're single with no prospects and you have a friend of the opposite sex who is similarly getting none, you should get together, act like a totally committed couple, and then go on the show and have all the guilt-free sex you can handle.

That's really the best way to play that game.

If you think you'd have a good shot at winning, check out this chart. It might help you be a Tempation Island survivor:




For the first time, I wrote something here that made somebody I know upset.

My dad got peeved that I wrote about him throwing me in a pool when I was little to see if I could swim.

See, the thing is, that's the story I've heard all my life from my mom, who has been known to exaggerate. The story was so funny and I heard it so many times, that I always just assumed it was the truth, but now my dad was hurt that I wrote about it because it's really not completely true.

It turns out he was in the water with me, not throwing me in from poolside, and that he only let me go for a few seconds to see if I would perform a miraculous baby-swim. He admits now that it was a silly thing to do, but nowhere near as bad as I described it.

So, sorry Dad.

Now the thing about the dog's eye popping out -- that's totally true. Every word of it.



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