Saturday, April 29, 2006

finger puppet

wednesday, april 26.

finger unveiled.

well, the knee looks much better. it's a single, straight line of stitches, not the bow-tied triangular pus-pit i had grown used to.

and now for the fin -- ugh, i can't really look at it. that isn't my finger, man. it's a miniaturized Macy's Day Parade float representing frankenstein's piglet, attached to my hand where my finger used to be.

it has ears. little yellow ears.

well, i guess that's sort of

the cool thing is, now i can tell people i've had plastic surgery and watch them try to figure out where.



patrick's giving me a ride to the surgery on monday. i've been actively trying to grow meat back on my knee, and it's almost healed (well, i mean it almost has skin on all of it), so i kind of hope they decide not to reopen and beautify it. we'll see. i'm nervous about the finger, too, but i'm sure it'll be okay.

sorry. as i told my grandpa, i didn't think i was old enough yet to start boring friends and family with my medical problems! :)

i sat on the hawk yesterday, and it started right up and sounded great - but i definitely can't bend my knee enough to reach the footpeg. nor can i pull the clutch with one finger. sigh.

Friday, April 28, 2006

crash pics

broken hand

kneeburger, day 2


april 19.

ok, so the quest for baltic-herring poisoning has been delayed.

somewhat predictably, i crashed my motorcycle on the SFRC ( season opener ride, two days before a big trip i'd planned. it figures. at least the crash wasn't scary. but the complicated business of being injured has made me realize that it's not enough to say you accept the idea of getting hurt while riding motorcycles. that's an easy assertion to make – that you ride despite knowing you'll probably crash – but it's too abstract. crashing and getting hurt is the easy part; being hurt, at least in my case, turns out to be a long, drawn-out hassle that is much more complicated and time-consuming than merely scary or painful.

but still – it's totally worth it. no question.

ok, so i broke my ring finger (you'll never get anything over that now, says patrick) and got what they call a "starburst puncture wound" on my left knee. both were very gross, but neither hurt at the time. hooray for shock! the finger was pointing three ways at once, and the knee looked like a creature from Alien had just burst out of it. happily, as i noted on my way down, i missed sliding into a roadside pile of dogshit by about a foot. lucky!

it was freezing out, but even so, three of the guys hung out and shivered with me, donating gloves, hats, vests, water and a granola bar, until one guy who hadn't gone on the ride arrived in his truck to fetch me and the bike. i tried not to bleed all over his girlfriend as we drove up to the ER at OHSU.

(the bike suffered barely any damage. patrick had it fixed and back in my lot the next morning. yeay!)

i tracked mud all through the hospital to my little room. zach arrived with sandwiches and made inappropriate jokes about where all my other bruises had come from ("she walked into a door, huh huh huh"). the nurses cringed. then he demanded that they cut off my clothes, since he'd been excited about that idea for hours now. they obliged.

i got IV'd and x-rayed, and they numbed and cleaned up my knee wound, cutting off the dead bits and flushing out a few pounds of gravel. at one point i looked up (mistake, fyi) and saw that the nurse's index finger was buried two knuckles deep into my knee hole. she was biting her lip, looking skyward and digging for rocks.

they decided not to stitch up the wound yet, for fear of infection. gross.

later, they gave me about fifty tiny shots all around the base of my finger to numb it, then pulled it straight and splinted it. well, not straight, but straighter. one more x-ray and i was outta there. i took a cab to the after-party, which was fun and ended up, like all such nights, at the sandy hut.

a couple days later i went back for more. they renumbed the kneeburger, cut off another few pounds of meat, and put four stitches around the gaping pus-drainage hole in the middle. the grad-student nurse who did the work had to wear a splashguard. at one point, the nurse practitioner asked her, "have you ever done a stitch before?"
"yeah," she said, "we had it in lab..."
i pretended to be elsewhere.

a few days later came the consultation with the hand surgeon. i was hoping she'd say they could just yank it straight, splint it up and send me on my way, but no. you definitely need surgery, she told me. not too surprising when you look at the x-rays and consider that typing is pretty much my only marketable skill.

so, i'd already canceled my plans to ride out to colorado for the grand opening of my dad's cancer center - i was going to fly out instead, but now it looks like i have to abandon the celebrations altogether. plus, there's no way i'll be going to sweden for guidebook research as soon as i'd planned. they squeezed me in for surgery as early as they could - monday - but i still have to reschedule everything. bummer!

on the plus side, one of the girls in the hand-doc's office told me as she was wrapping up my broken finger that she's looking to buy a bike and might want my old one. how cool is that?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hong Kong

I got lost in the airport. There, I've said it. Go ahead, laugh! It's not like I need navigation skills for my job or anything. Anyway, I finally found Jennifer, and we took the fancy train 2046-style along a glowing blue line to Kowloon station. She pointed me toward the taxi stand; she had schoolwork to do, so we arranged to meet later. The system for getting a cab from the station is the only orderly queue in all of China. (Everywhere else, there are big, colorful, universally ignored signs saying "please don't push each other," "be considerate in crowds," etc.) People are funneled into a single-file line, and there's a guy at the end who lets you out one at a time through large sliding-glass doors as each cab approaches. Incredibly efficient, and no fighting. ALL the cabs are red.

They drive on the left. There are British-style double-decker buses careening around everywhere.

Everything in Hong Kong is crammed together, mountains and skyscrapers, filthy slums and glittery architectural trophies. It's half grimescape, half futuristic airport city.

My rented room was teeny but plush compared to the Beijing hostel – not to mention 50 degrees warmer. Its bathroom featured an "exhausted fan" and a stockholm shower (ie drain in the floor, nozzle over the toilet, careful where you put your towel). Free tea and coffee!

I spent my first night in HK just wandering the neon wilderness in a daze. For dinner I had deep-fried papaya shrimp at a Thai place and tried to eat them with chopsticks, but they had these ungraspable clawlike bits sticking out all over and kept squirming away. At least the waitstaff got a good laugh out of it.

I had fun exploring the goldfish market in Mongkok...they hang the fish from wire grids in little plastic bags. The non-fish critters go in large tubs.

One night I met Jennifer for dinner at a little diner called Restaurant Macau, where we ate roasted pigeon. It's a delicacy there – and damned tasty. Like everywhere else in HK, the restaurant is always packed, so they cram you into any empty seats in other people's booths – we ate with a couple on a date – the dude totally ate the head of their pigeon. (We saved ours for, um, later.)

Afterwards we went to the fabulous aqua bar and drank $85 drinks while floating in a glass-and-steel cloud above the spectacular HK skyline. But Tony Leung was not there.

He also, surprisingly, was not hanging out at the HK Film Archive – no one was. It would be an awesome place to do research (ie totally geek out) – huge film library and a great reference library.

On the way back from that, I fell permanently in love with Hong Kong egg tarts. Sigh.

Went to Causeway Bay – but all that commerce without the grime made it less fun than the seedy Mongkok markets. Retreated to the Temple Street night market: cheap clothes, fake watches, neat faces, appalling smells, wriggling food.

A lot of this stuff is a blur, sort of kaleidoscopic, just because the city is so chaotic. Points of refuge I found included the history museum, the art museum, the Star Ferry – all really cheap. The closest I got to Tony Leung was stumbling across his handprints on the waterfront Avenue of Stars. Riding the tram up Victoria Peak was great, if terrifying – you really feel certain the angle can't work and the whole thing's just going to plunge backward right off the hill. I stayed up there long enough to see the sunset – and not just because I was scared to tram back down.

Then I met Jennifer for a drink at the Peninsula Hotel – the bathroom alone is an intensely luxurious experience. With her friend Dorothea we went to a Korean bbq place – fun and incredibly yummy – and then sat outdoors (this was early Jan and it was plenty warm) at some terrace bar drinking pitchers of "Around the World."

We tackled our hangovers early the next day with a trip to Lantau to see the Giant Buddha. The train ride out there was a piece of cake, but then we got on a bus that rattled through all these narrow, bouncy, stomach-twisting roads...I nearly lost it. Had an ice-cream at the top and felt a lot better. The Buddha was huge. Gorgeous day, amazing landscape. The monastery at the bottom smelled of incense and oranges. Not a bad way to finish off a visit to wild HK.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Apologies to all you swarms of devoted readers for the lack of updates here - been distracted by trying to figure out a better way to put photos up. I'll at least get it done before the Next Trip - my attempt to get mercury poisoning from Baltic herring. Which isn't, frankly, too dramatic and wouldn't preclude a later bout with either mad cow or bird flu, if my sources are trustworthy.

More soon.