(Note: This happened back in June. Don’t worry, I’m good now.)
By the time I felt the bone slipping it was too late. I’ve been doing P90X for a while, and despite my long history of stupid injuries, this hadn’t yet been the source of one of them. I thought I knew my limits. Clearly, I was wrong.
Up to this point all of my injuries have been for relatively embarrassing reasons. The first time I pulled my shoulder it was while doing a one man scene in high school. The second time was mid stroke while swimming. Time number three was from Richard Simmons.
This was the first actual weight lifting related one. I’d grown sloppy, but that wasn’t the stupid part. Not even by a little. I was in front of my laptop, watching Battlestar Galactica and working out, doing a shoulder tricep extension
when I felt the muscles spasm halfway up into the lift. By the time I dropped the weight, it was too late.
I screamed out in pain as I fell to the floor. I held up my right arm with my left so I could slowly and painfully make my way over to my laptop. Each movement was excruciating. I couldn’t figure out how to pause Battlestar so I just hit mute. This probably shouldn’t have been my first concern.
I grabbed my phone to call someone and then debated if I could set it myself. When I dislocated my shoulder in Michigan that first time, all the doctor had to do was lay me face down and let my arm dangle as he pulled slightly. It’s possible that’s all it would take. Admittedly, the other two times involved heavy amounts of morphine, but why focus on the negative?
“There’s a chance I can pull this off without going to a hospital,” I thought. It was less about the inconvenience and more about not having health insurance and being terrified how much it would cost.
I made my way back to my bed and tried laying on my stomach and slowly lowering my arm. I kept my phone in arms length of my left hand, just in case I started to feel like I might pass out. I was heavily sweating, not sure if it was from just having spent 35 minutes working out or from the intense pain. I kept my arm dangling. It wasn’t working.
It took me two minutes to lift my arm up and get into a position where I could reach my cellphone one foot away from me. On my phone, I googled “I just dislocated my shoulder” and came up with a few results from yahoo answers and YouTube.
I watched the first video, and tried to emulate it. I was standing next to my bed, and knew somehow I needed to get down to the floor with both a pillow and my phone. I dropped my phone on the ground, hoping it landed in the right spot. I wasn’t going to leave it somewhere unreachable. Then I slowly lowered myself and the pillow down, got into position and started the motion. The excruciating pain made me afraid I was making things much worse.
I picked up the phone, resigning that I was being an idiot and should go to the hospital and called up my friend Drew. No response.
“Let me try one more thing before calling someone else,” I thought. I glanced at my computer and saw the muted Battlestar was over, meaning I’d now been trying to fix myself for half an hour.
I searched again
and saw another solution involving standing up and starting with my arm bent towards my body. I couldn’t even start this exercise.
I read Yahoo Answers, and one response mentioned the importance of having a muscle relaxant. I went to the bathroom and for the first time looked in the mirror. “That’s not how shoulders are supposed to look,” I thought, as I saw the ball socket clearly an inch lower than it should have been. I looked at my other shoulder to confirm. “Yeah, that’s not right at all.”
In my medicine closet I had some Vicodin from when I’d caused myself permanent brain damage in an incident four years back involving me on a bicycle not wearing a helmet, a car, and far too much cement in proximity with my face.
I tried to open the container but it took two hands, and I didn’t have the strength, “Stupid child proof locks.”
I went back to my bed and used a hard surface to get it open. Then I waited five minutes for the drug to get in my system and tried the last strategy again. No luck.
I texted Andrew, but he wasn’t responding. I called up my neighbor Hillel, but he was away. I thought of the biking incident four years ago and how, despite the fact that blood was dripping off my neck and my left hand had stopped working, I’d decided to drive myself. I realized how this must be significantly more pain as there was absolutely no way I could drive myself in this state.
I called Drew’s land line and he picked up.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“I just dislocated my shoulder. Again. Could I have a ride?” I was laying on my side in bed not quite able to move without insane amounts of pain. He said he’d be right over.
It took me a full three minutes to put on a t-shirt. Fortunately I was already wearing my shoes, as I have no idea how I would have gotten them on. Once Drew picked me up, it all went smoothly. I realized I could have passed out, alone in my apartment. I should have asked for help immediately. I was an idiot. Perhaps next time I’ll do it differently.
and decided I’d be the guy to do the video. Obviously, someone had to.
I was up till three in the morning singing it over and over again trying not to slip up on the words. I ended up with a video that advanced from frame to frame of the comic with me singing not over an audio-only version, but over a full version of the song. I sang over this:
It was fun, but because it was 3am, there was a good chance it might was awful. I decided to rewatch it in the morning, and post it then if I still liked it.
When I woke up, I rewatched it and decided it was terrible. I started to write an email to a friend who’s recorded music for me in the past, asking if he could record a version of Modern Major General for me. To help him out, I chased down some sheet music on 8notes, and saw they had a ‘play’ option. I’d spent over half an hour the night before trying to chase down an audio only / karaoke version with no success. But here it was. Found accidentally. I scrapped the email, sped the music up by about 20% because I’m an idiot, spliced it so it allowed for another verse as the comic required, and sang over it over and over again until I made few enough mistakes to be proud of it:
As of now, it’s my biggest one day hit of a youtube video, and the first acting/singing related video I’ve ever had any success with. It’s inspired me to start creating more videos just for the fun of it. I was thrilled to see it get 5,000 views the first couple days, over a 150 likes, and not a single dislike. It really gets me excited for whatever the next project will be.
And a big thanks to Randall Munroe. All hail Randall, king of the internet.
An obese man in his mid 30’s came through the doors of Starbucks and walked straight towards me as I went to sit down.
“Do you know anything about computers?” he asked.
‘Uh oh,’ I thought.
“What’s the problem?” I asked. To note, the correct answer to this question is always No.
“I can’t get rid of the subtitles when I play a video,” he said.
“I can probably help with that,” I said, “It should just be a drop down menu option. Cue it up.”
He sat down at the table next to me and loaded up his computer. It was one of the swivel touch screen laptops that use a pen as the interface because we live in the future.
“I’m Jeremy,” I said.
“Alan,” he said as I shook his limp wristed outstretched hand.
He started up a movie in full screen, and I looked it over. There was no menu. When I minimized the movie, his Windows bar was set on the top of the screen blocking the movie’s controls. I unlocked the Windows bar and moved it to the side. I got the impression this was the point where he’d normally restart his machine.
I maximized the movie again and found a gear icon. The very first option was a drop down for Subtitles: ‘English’ or ‘None’?
“Here it is,” I said, “All you need to do is hit this gear down here, and then select from English to None like this.” I showed him.
“What do you mean by select?” he asked.
“Just click it,” I said.
“You mean press it?” he asked.
“That should work,” I said. “Give it a try.”
“Where’s do I press?”
I pointed to the gear icon. He pressed it. The same menu came up.
“And now what?”
“You go to the drop down and press ‘None’”
“Can you do it?”
“Well you need to do some of it, or how will you learn anything?”
“Haha. I see. Okay. I’ll try.”
It took three tries, but he figured it out.
“You do have headphones, yes?” I asked.
“I have it all the way down.” He pointed, showing me his plan was to watch the video on pictures only without the subtitles.
“Great. I’m going to get to work now. Glad I was able to help.”
“Thank you so much.”
I put my headphones in. For about 40 seconds he sat there staring at the moving pictures on his screen with his laptop still pointed towards me.
“Excuse me?” I heard over the sound of Brian Jonestown Massacre.
“Yes?” I said.
“It’s still there.”
I went back to the menu and clicked it again and said, “There you go.”
“Perfect,” he said.
He watched the video for another minute, and then packed up his laptop and walked out the door, never ordering a coffee. For me Starbucks is a place to get some writing done. For him, apparently, it’s his own personal Geek Squad.
The last time I went to Richard Simmon’s studio I pulled my shoulder, was rushed to the hospital, and ended up having my arm in a splint for two months. I did get to answer, “This? Richard Simmons workout studio. No – not a video – his class is about a mile from me.” I also got this amazing note to put on my refrigerator.
The whole episode made me realize just how out of shape I was. I took up P90X. I even started a blog on it: Exercise is Hard
The blog only lasted a month, but I managed to finish the program and still do exercises from it to this day.
Richard told me he’d comp my next visit there, and I should come soon but not too soon. Last night I finally went back and realized why I’d pulled my shoulder. It’s a serious workout heavy on the shoulders. Even after all my working out, I was still worried. When he went around hugging and kissing everyone before the class started, Richard said hi to Meg, wanted to know if I was her fiancé, and was told I was the guy who pulled his arm in his class.
“Just be careful,” he said and then hugged me.
Throughout the class he yelled at everyone to push harder, and then would turn to me and say, “Don’t push harder. Don’t hurt yourself.”
He yelled at everyone, “You’re all amazing. You’re better than roses. Then tierra’s. I love you all.” That’s a misquote, I’m sure. There was a guy from NPR taping the whole thing, and yes I am featured two minutes in to the audio interview.
Link to my interview on KPCC
At one point Richard turned the music down and turned to me in front of the class.
“Why do you keep winking at me?” he asked.
“You’re just so magnetic,” I said, “How can I resist?”
“And how’s the shoulder doing?” he asked.
“It’s good. It was a year ago,” I said.
“Let me tell everyone the story.” He told some variety of it that ended in, “And I told him I’d be happy to visit him in the hospital and whisper sweet nothings in his ear. Right?”
“Something like that,” I said, “But I don’t remember that offer.”
“Have you injured yourself since?”
“I don’t think so.”
“You’d know if you had. Either you have or you haven’t.”
“Then let’s go with no – I haven’t.”
We talked for about a minute and a half, and then he picked on a few regulars.
He came about a foot from me at one point and mouthed, ‘I love you,’ because that’s just the sort of guy he is.
Half the moves were a great workout. The other half were just an effort to make us look as ridiculous as possible and forget the fact we were working out.
The freestyle dance period.
The pick a partner and dance with her period.
The switch partners and dance with her as well period.
But I knew what I was getting in to. Any set that starts with playing it’s raining men twice in a row can only go in one direction.
Which is a round about way of saying, of course I’ll be back.
It was my last day teaching in the Los Angeles area, and I was on my way back from Anaheim when my travel partner, Valerie, called me, worried, saying there was no Dollar-Rent-a-Car at John Wayne.
For $100, Thrifty would take our rental car, but because it was under only my name, I had to talk with them. Valerie said I needed to call Thrifty and ask for Olivia. I did.
“Hi, my name’s Ashley,” a peppy voice said, “Olivia is on the phone. How can I help? Or do you want to wait until she’s off?”
“That’s fine,” I said, “I’ll talk to you.”
I told Ashley the situation, “I was supposed to drop off my car at LAX, but due to circumstances, I need to drop it off at John Wayne instead.”
Ashley said, “Yeah. I see that on your sheet.”
I said, “Great. Also, I’m not going to be the one dropping it off. Valerie’s the one dropping it off.”
“Who?” she asked.
“You don’t know her. She was my travel partner for the week. She’s just some other person. Long story.”
She said, “That’s not on the sheet.”
“Ok,” I said, “So what I want you to note is someone who’s not me is going to drop it off.”
“Only you are authorized to drive the vehicle. She’s not a registered driver, so can’t be driving the car.”
“We’re past that at this point. Due to circumstances, she had to drive the car, and I just want to know what I have to do so she can drop off the car.”
“I don’t advise that,” she said.
“Well, I don’t really have a choice,” I said, “So I just need to know how I can authorize it.”
She said, “Sir, she needs to be a registered driver.”
“Is there any way you can mark down that I’m fine with it? I just want her to drop off the car.”
“You needed to do that when you originally signed up.”
“Well, that didn’t happen. Is there something I can do now?”
“I’m not sure I understand sir. What’s your problem?”
I went through the problem again.
She said, “Oh. No – she needs to be a registered driver.”
“Yes. I understand that. I get that. That’s….what do I need to do?”
“You need to go through Dollar-Rent-A-Car.”
“Okay. Great. What number can I call to authorize this?”
“Actually, you need to go there in person.”
“That’s fine. I’m by LAX,” I lied, “What exactly do I need to ask for in person?”
“Actually, you both need to be at Dollar-Rent-a-Car to authorize it.”
“That’s not an option. She has a flight to catch from John Wayne in two hours. I just want to drop off your car. Is there any way she can drop off the car?”
“I don’t advise that.”
“I don’t understand. What does that mean? Is it not allowed? Is it illegal? What’s the problem?”
“Is it illegal? Is there a problem with the police? I mean if my partner…I mean why can’t you advise this?”
We went back and forth for a while, until finally she said, “The car could get impounded.”
“Who would impound the car?”
“Are the cops impounding the car? Are you guys impounding it?”
“The cops might.”
“All right. In the off chance the cops don’t impound the car and we do manage to get it back to you un-impounded, then is it all right if Valerie returns it?” I asked.
To which she said, “Can I put you on hold sir?”
I said, “Okay,” and then waited. This wasn’t the exact conversation, but the gist of a conversation that went in circles over the course of 20 minutes, ending in the exact same way.
After five minutes, I hung up and called them back. I got Olivia and told her that I’m that person who Valerie was talking about earlier. I asked, “Would it be all right if Valerie dropped off the car?”
Olivia said, “Oh yeah. That’s fine. Let me just change the contract.”
I said, “Thank you,” and got very frustrated I didn’t just wait for her in the first place.
How we originally got in this situation is a much longer story. I wish the screw up only costed me the $100 fine and 30 minutes of frustration. The longer story ends with my job in jeopardy and having to put Valerie in the middle of an ugly problem and permanently hurting our relationship. But I’d rather just tell this shorter version. It’s funnier.
Note: Valerie’s real name is not Valerie, but all the same she was fantastic to work with, and I look forward to seeing her again. I learned so much, not only from her experience, but also her amazing professionalism when under an extremely stressful situation (again, a longer story only tangentially connected to this one)
Apparently ‘pulling a Jeremy’ can be defined as having to eat one’s words after saying something that no one with even a modicum of social grace would ever say in the first place.
I didn’t realize quite how much of an established phrase it was until two old friends of mine (who had never met before) started telling ‘Jeremy stories.’
Dylan told one, “So I was sitting with a friend in the computer lab in the basement of Schaffer Senior year helping this friend out with his Senior project. Jeremy takes one look at the computer and says, ‘What are you doing? Watching shitty flash animations?’ and when my friend said, ‘No. This is my final project,’ Jeremy kind of shrugged and walked away as quickly as possible. Just no awareness whatsoever for his surroundings.’
Vosko said, “Wow. That’s like the perfect Jeremy story. If I ever need to describe you, that’s the story I’m going to tell.”
Just now, a woman with four young girls and two babies in a stroller needed a hand opening a door. I was about to help her when she said, “Oh, don’t bother – one of them will get it.” Two of the four girls went to open the door.
I said, “Oh, that’s the advantage of having that many-”
I stopped myself, realizing finishing the sentence with “-children” might have been seen as offensive.
She said, “Well – one of them’s not mine,” to save face for both of us.
I’m suspecting this is what they were talking about.
A couple weeks ago I was in a hotel room in Tacoma on the night the police were shutting down the OWS encampment in New York City. It was around midnight, and unable to sleep, I had my laptop set to livestream where over 15,000 people watched the events take place. I had the TV news on in the background expecting one of the channels to pick up what was happening.
The local news in Tacoma had an in depth piece on the weather followed by a completely unremarkable take on stem cell research. Their teaser for after the break had to do with shutting down one of Washington’s state parks.
Online I watched a crowd get angrier and angrier as they saw police rip up tents. 1000‘s of comments streamed by. Here’s a couple:
Purchase a gun
Fight fire with fire
These COPS need a beat down so they can learn to respect
Press being kept out
Seattle stands with you. You are being attacked because you’re having an effect. Keep it up!
NYPD estimates 300 ppl there?
Give me badge numbers, and I’ll give you addresses of where their children sleep.
The world is watching
On FOX News, five yutzes sat around the table rehashing a news piece 60 Minutes had broke about corruption on capitol hill.
Online the moderator kept wiping the comments, and posting “Please do not spam or promote violence,” but they kept coming:
MSNBC is covering police officers injured while fighting with 400+ hells angels.
I pray people riot
CNN showed Anderson Cooper talking about American Airlines being fined for delays.
Online call’s to action started getting posted in the form of:
New York City Mayor’s Office (212) 788-7550 (212) 513-6300
NYC Mayor 212-639-9675
NY Gov: (518) 474-8390
“In one of the first waves they gathered us here…”
How can you allow this police state?
I’m delighted at how the movement is now evolving to protest in front of specific homes and companies, and hope that it continues to grow. This police break up and the dozens that followed are exactly what’s needed to keep the movement growing. But that wasn’t my point. My point was, this is why only idiots watch tv news.
Because any video that makes me spit out a cup of water, laughing, deserves a featured spot on this blog. Stick with it past the first 30 seconds. It reminds me of Improv Everywhere when they first got started.
“He doesn’t have one. He used to have one. He has a child. But he has this damn sexy Japanese woman. Lord knows where he got her, but my God.”
I wasn’t planning to listen to the conversation behind me in this Indian restaurant. I swear I wasn’t. Just picture two middle aged men – the sort you’d expect to see in church or a Republican rally.
‘…’ is when it got noisy or boring.
“-I’d also been going to the bible study where they’re actually hotter. You see the big star now is this guy Niko – Niko is the Philippine guy. Niko is a Zen master.”
“He’s a clerk?”
“Well, not only is he a clerk. I mean Niko is like a neo-cassenova. Niko for 16 years played drums in a band in Las Vegas in the Lounge. Now that was at night. You can see him on youtube.
“During the day he was a busing at iHop. That was for 16 years. He’s very very talented at singing and dancing, but there’s certain things he’s not good at – like academic stuff. He goes to bible study too, and he’s very religious. He has a hard time – a very hard time. You see, he doesn’t express himself.
“So we were at the bible study. It was the last week – the last session – and the minister was running it. So he had a dinner for all of the people in the bible study. Now, I was sitting next to this Chinese girl. Young Chinese girl. What did I say to her? I started talking to her – told her that I have an asian child. It turns out that she’s an artist. She works at Disney.”
“-doing the drawings of the children. In the park. She went to the Art Center. So I say my kid went to the Art Center.”
…It got a bit noisier at this point – here’s one last snippet…
“-so he says to her ‘I understand you can draw, and I want you to draw my wife fucking an octopus. And with the other hand the octopus is-’”