Monday, November 10, 2008

Tickets, Rounds, and Raw Nerves

Today during rounds I should find out specifically when the protocols are to begin and how the tapering regimen will proceed. One of the more confounding elements of being here is that I am told only a little bit by little bit at a time how the trial will be run. Hardly ever am I provided with the big picture of any decision. I wonder whether this is due to some strategy or clinical theory which I am largely ignorant, or rather that the doctors in charge simply don't want patients to know the majority of the intimate decisions they make. It makes for frustratingly insufficient conversation when people ask how precisely I am to be treated---I simply can't answer their question in more than surface generalities.

Yesterday I returned from an overnight pass out with a friend having not slept well the night before. This is why I was too tired to post anything much of substance upon my arrival back on the ward. I'll be honest. After the election, I find myself with not nearly as much to talk about as before. No worries, though, things will pick up again, particularly when Obama is sworn in at the end of January and the fabled 100 Days begin. I normally don't talk about myself on this blog nearly as much as I have since I've been up here, but I figure that documenting my progress while in treatment is worth noting.

This morning, shortly before rounds, I have been attempting to call my Congressman to obtain two tickets to Obama's inauguration. My friend is a native of Wisconsin, a solidly blue state, and as such likely to have already allocated its share of tickets. Alabama is a red state with a majority of representatives being Republican, and as such I know demand will be much less than it would have been had McCain won. Still, this time around, according the online news, even in Alabama there have been many requests for tickets to the proceedings and the multitude of formal balls and galas that bookend every Presidential Inaugural. In a way, this surprises me, due to how conservative a state it is. Yet, in a way it doesn't, considering how liberal most of the big cities tend to be and that the idea of the so-called Solid South conceals the fact that there are a sizable number of Democrats in every Southern state.


Next, a rundown of part of my weekend.

When I stepped off of the metro platform and rode the escalators up to the top of the Convention Center stop, I knew I was in a fairly rough part of town. The burglar bars on every window, the decay, and that faint but perceptible sense of tension in the faces of the people I passed by made that clear enough. But as my eyes adjusted to urban blight and decay, I noticed that gentrification had begun, or at least was trying to take root. Ten to fifteen years of reclaiming a ghetto means that a three block perimeter around the focal point of the attraction was full of trendy eateries, coffee shops, and bars. Ten to fifteen years of reclaiming a ghetto means that once one strays very far from the scene, one sees the hand of poverty on everything, shivers, and leaves immediately.

The Convention Center was fairly new and designed specifically with reviving the area, which had been a working class neighborhood in the early part of the twentieth century, then a largely African-American ghetto, then marked for urban renewal, then home to a major riot after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., then targeted by urban pioneers. Even so, a trip to a hard-scrabble grocery store provided me the opportunity to be the only white person waiting in line.

Heading back to a safer part of the area, two groups bumped elbows at all the eateries and tourist attractions. Both of them met at the Conventional hall simultaneously: young black women in identical black muslin dresses, participating in a meeting sponsored by Essence magazine---combined with a gathering of largely young environmentalists. Towards the end of the afternoon, there were a copious number of Alabama fans awaiting the football game, which was why I happened to be in the area too.

I was glad Norah came with me since it would have been a little lonely to have been there on my own. Games are social events and one craves social connection when one's chosen team wins. Of all the games this season, she happened to be around for the best.

No comments: