- David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
Today, of my own free will and, in fact, at not inconsiderable personal expense I went out and had myself injected with Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhus. How's that for a dreamy Wednesday morning? Well, it could have been worse; much worse. For instance, I gave Rabies a miss; at $190 for each of the three shots in the series, it seemed reasonable to address the problem in other ways. I also passed on the Meningitis opportunity; my doctor noted that I will not actually be travelling in the "Meningitis Belt". Cholera was solemnly advised against as this particular vaccination is agreed to be "painful, expensive, and ineffective." Finally, I got off the Tetanus hook, by virtue of seeming to recall already having enjoyed that one within the last few years.
If I sound bitter about all this, I'm not. In point of fact, I'm happy and grateful for the protection against these risks. Much more, I really liked my new travel doctor, and helper. The doc a professor of immunology at Stanford actually just got back from 9 weeks in Uganda, where he was training medical personnel in treatment of HIV/AIDS patients. How cool is that? Also, not a little useful to me he was truly Johnny-on-the-spot with specific advice and recommendations for me. After a very pleasant and informative consultation with him, I was handed off to his nurse/assistant/needle-wielding-person, who despite stabbing people for a living was hugely helpful, patient, and just nice.
Once she and I agreed on my cocktail, she darted over to Hell's Own Refrigerator where everything on the menu has killed millions and returned with a gleaming tray with five gleaming needles laid out upon it. All that was missing was the white linen.
Her: "Try not to look at them."
Me: "Do I even have enough veins for all this?"
Her: "Well . . . we have had people who got more."
In other news, I've packed up all my books. No library and no hair. Where's my sense of self-identity now?! Man this self-hood business is all quite slippery enough, even when clinging to familiar rocks. On the upside, I met with a new client yesterday my first business meeting in five years without hair. I tell you. I think most of us try to not judge people too much on matters of style. And, of course, this is the Bay Area, where everyone's allowed (and encouraged) to do whatever they want and Silicon Valley, where all that really matters is what's inside your head. Nonetheless: No matter how well I knew my stuff technology-wise, no matter my ability to run a meeting, no matter my careful "business casual" attire . . . I just never could walk into a business setting wearing a ponytail without feeling, on some level, like some kind of pansy-hippy-throwback-poseur. The ponytail was just always in the room, I'm afraid. So, yesterday's meeting was very liberating. As Forest sagely noted: "Well, one less thing." And I signed the client (admittedly a mixed blessing for a guy with a week to store everything he owns, pack for a major trip, and get out of Dodge).