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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rilke On Life

I find myself at a weary place today and nothing really to say. I read these profound words by Rilke this week, so I'll put them up for you. They make me feel better and maybe they'll move you too. --

"You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."
Rainer Marie Rilke from "Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Los Angeles Skin

An offspring of “Racial Reconciliation” a post from

Since living in LA, I have been amazed by the many different blends of ethinicity I’ve seen. One night, while my parents were visiting us, we decided to eat at a restaurant on Manhattan pier. The table next to us was full of people, obviously a party. At first, I didn’t really notice the beautiful women sitting at the table, but little by little they caught my eye. They were around my age, twenty-five. They had long dark brown hair and features that I can only recall as Indian-ish. I couldn't figure out their ethnicity. Their features were so blended that they simply looked exotic, like they had walked out of some paradise jungle. I like to imagine that Adam and Eve were this way, a mélange of nationality that simply glowed with the warmth of humanity.
This question of ethinicity has struck me many times since living in LA. It's not uncommon to meet people who are part white, part Indonesian, and part Hawaiian (real example of a friend).
But it wasn’t until a couple months ago that I realized my fascination with ethnicity was bordering on ignorance and prejudice. I was writing at a local coffee shop when I spotted a beautiful woman, again about my age, with a small baby sleeping in a carrier at her feet. She had rough, straight black hair that flopped around her petite brown features. She was almost mahogany tinted. Her eyes were almond shaped, but her nose was small and pointed. Her cheeks were smooth and high, and her mouth was delicate. I caught myself staring at her. “Who is she?” I kept wondering. “Where did she come from?” I couldn’t decide if she was mixed or just some kind of nationality I’d never seen before. And Judging by the shade of her baby’s skin she had inter-married too. I kept watching her trying to crack the code of her ethnicity. “Did she grow up in LA? Who were her parents and how did they come to the states?”
At that moment a teenage boy skated into the coffee shop and slid by her. He glanced at her, jumped off his board, and ordered a drink. Suddenly I realized, “That boy doesn’t see a ‘foreigner’ when he looks at her. To him she is just a pretty American.”
I have decided that the face of America is changing and I am sliding into that pale minority known as “white.” I’m glad for it, relieved in fact! Suddenly, this city feels alive and warm with the glow of melanin.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hello Margaritaville!

Dwayne had his surgery this morning to remove the melanoma skin cancer from his right shoulder. As far as the surgery went, Dwayne did great. In all, the surgery was only a 1/2 hour, but we were at the hospital from 6:30 to 10:30 am. They didn't put him to sleep for the whole surgery. They gave him a "MAC," which was to put him to sleep for about five minutes while they numbed his arm and then they gave him a heavy sedative which made him really relaxed. The doctor described it as a heavy cocktail or a margarita. :-)

And boy was Dwayne happy when he came out of surgery! It was like there was no filter from his brain to his mouth. He just blurted out everything on his mind.

When I visited him in the recovery room, he held up a feeble peace sign and yelled "Whaaazzzzzzuuuuup!" I knew immediately he was drugged! I started laughing so hard I could barely talk to the doctors. Let me give you a glimpse into the conversations:

Setting: Dwayne is lying on a movable bed with lots of white blankets on top of him and various tubes and wires attached to his body. He can't move either arm because one is wrapped up and the other is strapped with hospital devices. One more thing: he's in the same room he was in before the surgery.

Dwayne: (about three noches louder than you've ever heard him speak) AM I IN THE SAME ROOM AS BEFORE?!
The nurses try not to giggle while they type different things in the computer, flip papers, mess with other hospital stuff.
Dr. Khattab: Yes, you're in recovery.
Dwayne: (very perky) OH! WHERE'D EVERYBODY GO?!
Dr. Khattab (to Christin): He wont remember much of this conversation later.
Christin: (in a fit of giggles) Really?
I look over to see Dwayne jerking his head around, his mouth open, his nose twitching.
I use one finger to scratch his nose.
Dwayne: (with a mischievious grin) INSIDE!
I collapse into another fit of giggles, but refuse to scratch the inside of his nose!
(Dr. Khattab is walking out of the room)
Dwayne: KHATTAB! ARE YOU LEAVING?! (He also said "Whaaazzzzuuupp! to Dr. Khattab when he came out of surgery.)
Dr. Khattab: No! I'll be back.
Dr. Khattab: You're welcome.
The nurses keep giving me knowing smiles because they think Dwayne's funny too.
Nurse 1: He was talking alot when he came out of surgery. It was cute. That's when I knew he'd be just fine.
Nurse 2: He'll be in recovery for about an hour. We'll watch him. You don't have to stay here.
Christin: I don't?
The nurses laugh. I try to fight off more giggles.
Nurse 1: Yeah, he told us you love watching Regis and Kelly. (There was a TV in the waiting lounge.)
Christin: Oh he did, did he?
I consider leaving becuase I'm a little embarrassed by Dwayne, but then I realize I'll miss out on all the action and nobody will be there to tell him to quiet down. I try to stroke his hair and tell him to be quiet but I keep doubling over in laughter. This just encourages him.
Dwayne (to the nurse who is about to go get something hospitalish) HEY! HEY! I HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION!
Nurse 1: Yes?
I could no longer control myself. I was laughing so hard.
Nurse 1: Yes. We wouldn't take that off.
Nurse 1: No, no, we wouldn't do that to you.
Christin: (laughing) Shhh. Shhh. Talk quietly.
Dwayne: (looking his neighbor's hospital socks) DO I GET TO KEEP MY SOCKS?!

After about 2o minutes Dwayne finally begins to mellow. And so do I. Apparantly, on the way into surgery Dr. Kovar (the anesthesiologist) had this conversation with Dwayne:
Dr. Kovar: Do you ever drink?
Dwayne: Not really.
Dr. Kovar: Well, I'm going to give you a margarita.
Dwayne: Well, hello Margaritaville.
Dr. Kovar: It's a little early for a margarita, but it must be happy hour somewhere.
Dwayne: It's five o'clock somewhere!