Monday, March 19, 2007

Sore Shoulder

The Tao had been bombarded with random videos last week. I wish I could conjure up more energy to write. I caught another bug at the end of Langerado which floored me for most of last week. I'm heading to Vegas next week and Monte Carlo the week after for work. I could not afford to get sick and miss work. I did what I could to boost the immune system (thanks to the Human Head's Alka-Seltzer and Airborne cocktail which I added a couple of vitamin C and B-12 pills to the mix) and by Thursday I felt like a normal human being again. Well, somewhat normal healthy person. That was perfect timing considering that the March Madness basketball tournament was upon us.

I finally woke up on Thursday without a sore throat and a fever, so I quickly headed to the laptop. I fired up Rodrigo y Gabriela, my new favorite writing music and cranked out pages and pages of drivel. After an Everything bagel and iced tea, I sorted out my picks for the various pools I entered and crunched the numbers in order to figure out who I was going to bet on that day. I set aside about 5K of my 2007 travel money to use as seed money for my March Madness gambling binge. I'm hoping that I don't lose it, otherwise I might not get to do some fun stuff at the end of the year. If I get lucky and my picks materialize, then I'll have enough money to embark on a nice adventure.

That's how I used to fund my Phishy travels and other adventures during the late 1990s. I'd bet heavily on March Madness. If I won (which I usually did), then I'd have enough money to follow Phish that summer. If I didn't, I'd have to run up the credit cards.

I had a decent day gambling on Thursday but I had more fun sitting at Derek's and watching the games. I had been on the road so much that I forgot how enjoyable being on a couch and ripping bingers could be. I loathe CBS and their over-saturation of commercials, so I usually mute the sound and listen to music instead.

I got a haircut on Friday morning with Vinny the barber. He was telling me about his next trip to Atlantic City and I told him about my work assignment in Monte Carlo. He told me I should skip France and go to his homeland of Italy instead. He was shocked when I told him I had never been.

I got the shortest haircut of my life. Standard US military issue cut. I'm embracing my lack of hair and wanted to see what it looked like really really short. It's a low maintenance hair cut and I could roll out of bed and go without worrying about bedhead.

By the time I left Vinny's, it had started to snow. It was a mixture of ice and snow and it started to come down hard by the time the basketball games started at 1pm. Derek called saying that he was getting out of work early so he got to see a bunch of the games on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday morning something awful happened. It was St. Patty's Day and I woke up with a sore shoulder and right arm. It felt like I pitched both ends of a doubleheader and could barely raise my arm above my shoulder without whincing. It hurt even when I just looked at it. I slept on it wrong and it felt slightly dislocated. Awesome. As soon as I got over a flu big, a nagging shoulder injury crept up on me. Thank God that my bum knee held up at Langerado even though there was one morning when I was dying. Motrin cleared that up.

I popped several Motrin throughout Saturday as the pain dulled but still lingered. I was more concerned with hoops than drinking and opted out of going downtown to get shitfcaed in a crowded bar then either piss or puke on an icy sidewalk. I made a few big bets and that's all I could think about. The timing of March Madness was awful because my mother decided to have a family dinner. She made the traditional Irish-American feast of corned beef and cabbage. I hate that shit. Always have. When I was forced to eat it as a kid, I lathered my food in spicy mustard from the Jewish deli down the street.

The only good thing about the dinner on St. Patty's Day was that my mother decided to hang one of my paintings in her living room. It was a big one too and she liked the colors. No green at all in the painting that was called Heather's Flowers.

Things got ugly in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I slept on my left shoulder and it started to act up. I popped a half of a Vicodin but the pain persisted. I smoked some weed and even jerked off, but I could not fall asleep. I tried everything as the pain in the other shoulder crept back up. I was tag teamed. For about thirty minutes, I was in utter agony trying to figure out how to sleep. If I put my arms down along the side of my body, it hurt like hell. If I did the mummy pose, the right shoulder burned. If I slept on my stomach, the left one hurt. I decided to sleep sitting up in a chair, something I've gotten used to because of so much airplane travel. I grabbed a blanket and sat for ten minutes. That didn't work. The only time I felt normal was when I stood up with my arms at the side as I did circular neck motions while taking deep breaths. I could not do that all night and decided to pop a full Vicodin instead. I crawled back into bed and fell asleep for ten minutes before waking up at 4am in sheer pain admitting defeat.

I smoked more weed through the 4:20am hour and by then the 1.5 Vicodins started to take affect as I slipped into a mellow mood. The agony disappeared. My left arm was fine and the pain in the right shoulder subsided enough that I could use my laptop. I wrote for a bit and edited a couple of videos from Langerado. I mulled over my picks for the day and read the New York Times. Of course with the Vicodin rush comes the cotton mouth and the chornic scratching. In random places. Like my stomach or my forearms. I must have looked like a parched tweaker on Sunday morning.

I had three not-so-fun moments last week.

1. My assignment in Monte Carlo was extended one full day. The European Poker Tour Championships were supposed to end on Sunday Aptil 1st. My plan was to take a helicopter from Monte Carlo to Nice on the 2nd, then fly from Nice to Amsterdam for a few days of high altitude training. My work assignment dictated that I stay in Monte Carlo an extra day. I called Expedia to try to change my flight, but Air France fucked me and I was unable to change my flight to the next day. Non-refundable, no exceptions. Le non. I had to eat the entire cost of the flight. I rebooked a new one and the price had jumped up by almost 50%. I was not happy and took out my ire on the outsourced customer service rep. I had to spend more money to spend one less day in the Dam. Sadly the extra day of work would not cover the extra plane ticket. Grumpy Pauly.

2. I finished my taxes, doing them five times until I got an amount that I could live with. I still owe a sick amount to NY state and the federalies. Think of how much NYC teachers make in a year and that's my tax burden. I'm pissed knowing that NY state will piss it away on welfare checks and the federal government will be using my taxes to fund their next war with Iran. What can I do? I decided to wait until after get back from Europe in early April to file and mail them what I owe. I might as well get one more month of interest on my hard-earned money before I hand it over to those career crooks in DC.

3. High Roller Magazine sucks ass. They owe me freelance pay of over 1K for two stories that I did at a discounted rate and as rush jobs. The managing editor has not returned a single email to me in several weeks. I did the guy two favors and all I asked in return was to be paid promptly. After getting stonewalled by the managing editor, I sent the COO a "you guys are unprofessional" email. He called me up two minutes after I sent it and he promised me that the invoices would be put to the top of the pile. That was over three weeks ago. I emailed him four times last week to check on the status. He blew all of them off. I know for a fact because I gave Tim his email (they stiffed Tim too) and he answered Tim back, but not me. Bush league. When I tried to call the magazine, the number had been disconnected. That's when I got really pissed. They were having financial troubles which is why I had not been paid. Amy Calistri told me that their printer demanded to be paid up front for their latest issue. That's how bad things are for them. What pisses me off is that the managing editor knew about these problems but failed to tell me before I handed in my last assignment. Had I known they might not pay me for a long time (or not pay me at all), I would have shopped the piece around to another magazine and got paid one time and a higher rate. As is, he duped me after I did him a favor and I got fucked. It's ironic that High Roller Magazine can't pay their writers. I sent another email to the COO at a different email address for someone place he runs and he said that he would "get back to me next week" and that he was busy last week "traveling and moving offices." So he has money to travel and to set up a new office, but can't pay me? Yeah, I'm really pissed about that. Totally unprofessional. I'll never write for them again.

That's the bad stuff. The good stuff is that I've been winning a little money, enjoying watching the games with my brother, and I'm about to go to Vegas and Monte Carlo in the upcoming weeks. If I can just stay healthy and get paid, I'd be an extremely happy camper.

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