When a camera goes down your nose

Today, I had my much anticipated appointment with the ear-nose-throat specialist. I came in first thing in the morning and discussed the last four weeks of my condition with him. Today literally marked a full month of being ill for me, so he could tell I was not a happy camper, nor was this some simple cold. And so he explained that he’d spray my nose and throat to numb me, asked me to breathe through my nose (as difficult as that would be), and he gradually strung and then dropped a camera through my left nostril and down my throat.

I do not wish that experience upon anyone, even people I really cannot stand. If it lasted any longer than it did, I may have passed out.

He said he found a lot of inflammation on my vocal chords and larynx, and that I ultimately had a very common condition called laryngopharyngeal reflux, also known as silent reflux. As per usual, the nickname makes zero sense because in this condition, you are anything but silent. You are coughing, disgustingly phlegmy, and your voice is either lost or not fully there due to the inflammation of your larynx and vocal chords from the stomach acid that is eating away at both. He said this appeared to be a side effect from the virus that I had, during which I vomited quite a bit…. and vomiting causes stomach acid to travel up (which… it is not supposed to do) and inflame my throat.

So the good news is that this is easily treatable. I just have to take an over-the-counter antacid before dinner each night, then take a couple Tums before bed and elevate my head at bedtime. And I should be fully cured within four weeks.

I just have to avoid or minimize alcohol, caffeine, spicy food, and citrus. In other words, I have to avoid everything that provides joy. As I was learning this, I wondered to myself if I’d done something really bad to have deserved this illness as retribution.

Transferable

A friend from my last job and I met for dinner tonight after a couple months of not seeing each other. Since we last caught up in July, he’d decided to be bold and quit his job without anything lined up, mostly because he found the job and company uninspiring and meaningless. I always felt that way while there, in addition to anger and resentment about everything wrong there (which is pretty much everything), but I was never big enough to just quit without anything lined up.

He’s been searching and actively interviewing, but a problem he’s been encountering is that companies are finding holes in his skill set. How does the typically tech company define what a “data scientist” role should entail? Well, whatever it is, he clearly was not doing it at the last company, and so he’s been getting declined left and right. “I feel like none of my ‘skills’ are transferable,” he said to me tonight. He’s tried to expand his search as a result.

That was always my fear at my last company, that I learned nothing, that I wasn’t growing, that I was surrounded by and thus becoming a part of the complacency. It’s easy to be that way you get paid well and have flexibility, two massive privileges that I was fully cognizant of. And he was cognizant of them, too. Why else would either of us have stayed so long at such a miserable and growth-less place? It scared me that in future interviews, people would find out I was a phony and didn’t really know much at all, or I wouldn’t be anywhere as smart or skilled as the competition interviewing against me. I feel bad for my friend, but all I could do was tell him to keep looking and the right thing would turn up.

Laziness  and complacency really comes back to bite you in the ass.

Caribbean catch-up

Tonight, I met a partner who works with my company on a temporary project for Caribbean food for dinner. I had no idea how old he was before finally meeting him in person (we’d been on video chat many times before finally meeting in person today), but when he told me that he literally graduated from college this past December, our age gap suddenly hit me, and I felt a bit old sitting across from him while chewing on my jerk chicken and plantains.

With his Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage and my Chinese Vietnamese heritage, we ended up talking a lot about race and how it’s perceived in different parts of this country. He grew up in Georgia and Florida but now lives in San Francisco, and while I have always lived on one of the coasts, I’ve definitely been many times to the deep South and the Midwest, where people who look like me are not always the norm. Now that he lives in San Francisco, he said it’s almost like being in a different country than where he grew up, where races didn’t intermingle much and race pretty much determined what your life would be like. But even in his own community and own family, Trump supporters can be found. And people repeatedly defend him.

This is the America we live in, where people continue to vote against their own self interests but think they aren’t. Maybe we really get what we deserve.

Sick visit

I’ve never had a sick visit to the doctor’s in New York City. I guess I am lucky enough that I usually don’t get sick often, and when I do, I drink so much liquid and take so much lemon and honey that I end up peeing whatever evils that were in my body out within a few days. Unfortunately because I’ve had lingering mucus and a cough and a weak voice for nearly four weeks now, I decided to schedule this appointment with my regular doctor.

After a lot of discussing the sequence of events from Australia to New Zealand to San Francisco to here and examining me, my doctor concluded she still had no idea what was wrong with me, but knew this wasn’t normal that I still had these symptoms after nearly a month. So she referred me to an ear-nose-throat (ENT) doctor to see what could be wrong. She said that what they could do that she couldn’t would be to stick a camera through my nose and down my throat to see if anything could be stuck on my vocal chords or on my larynx.

Oh, goodie. Now, I can’t wait! Because who doesn’t want an experience like that at least once in their life?

Keys

Yesterday, we passed by a KeyMe key making station and decided to test it out by duplicating one of our apartment keys. It seemed so simple; it recognizes you by your finger print, it saves all the keys as you name them, and anywhere you can find a KeyMe station, you can get a key. It would be the most useful in the event you locked yourself out and had no other way of getting in. And if you think it costs too much, just decline buying, and it will ask you why you don’t want to complete your purchase. The options include… “changed your mind,” “don’t need it anymore,” and “too expensive.” And being us, we hit “too expensive” to see what it would say, and lo and behold, a 50% off discount that can be used immediately! And it even allows you to have a design on your key! Ours was the New York City subway map. Chris suggested that I keep it because of how excited I got to have a key with a design on it, and so I swapped out my original key for this one.

Well, that was a mistake because on its second time this morning attempting to unlock the apartment door, the key literally got stuck and jammed. It was so bad that we had to call our super and handyman, and together they had to completely remove the lock and change everything out. It took nearly 45 minutes to get done. And… my friend was on a time crunch to get to the airport in time for her flight. She literally got to the gate after everyone else had boarded with ten minutes remaining.

The handyman asked us if we used KeyMe, and we said yes. And he said, don’t do that again.

Yeah, we won’t.

Small city

New York City. It’s actually quite a small city when you think about square miles, but it’s big… because of the tall buildings? The number of businesses that are on it? The sheer number of people who live here? What are the odds that you’re going to not only be dining at the same restaurant as someone you know, but also be sitting at the table next to them?

My friend, Chris, and I were dining at Scarpetta tonight, and lo and behold, a colleague visiting from San Francisco, his wife, and her parents ended up dining and being seated at the table next to us. I had no idea they were even there, as we were having a very animated conversation, until my colleague came by to say hi and introduce his family. This has never happened in my entire time in New York. “Didn’t realize this city was so small that we had to end up eating at the same place tonight,” my colleague joked.

Picky picky

Tonight, my team, including two team members from our San Francisco office, had dinner at ABC Cocina, a spot I’ve been wanting to try for a couple years but just never got around to going. As you usually do at tapas restaurants, the dishes are small plates and all are for sharing. It’s fun to share food… until you start eating with people who pretty much eat nothing except the most basic foods.

Because I’ve developed a reputation for being knowledgable about food of all kinds, my colleagues let me do all the ordering. What ended up happening was that one of our visiting colleagues, who is incredibly sheltered and not well traveled at all (by choice, not by limited budget) refused to eat anything at the table other than the pork tacos that we ordered. He wouldn’t even touch the bread basket that came to the table. He questioned our servers about every last ingredient in each dish. Being told that a dish was “salmon” was simply not enough. I tried my best to hold my tongue and not say anything mean, but it was really hard for me. Just try new food. Why is it so difficult?¬†You’re an adult. Act like one. It’s not like anyone is asking you to pay for food that you don’t like. Money isn’t an issue here. Just TRY IT.

When I think of people who are that picky of an eater, I then think that they must also be fairly racist… which may sound extreme because there’s a very strong correlation between pickiness in eating and racism. I wonder how many non-white people he really spends time with and is actually friendly with.

I can’t do shared food with him anymore and hope to never have to eat at a restaurant with shared plates with him ever again.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea. It’s one of those uppity, generally overpriced, stick-your-pinky-finger-out-while-sipping-tea-from-a-delicate-cup events that I rarely do anymore except with maybe one or two girlfriends. It conjures up images of flowery tea pots, colorful wallpaper, and expensive crustless sandwiches. And yet, it’s still fun to do with the right people.

My friend and I went this past weekend to have afternoon tea at a spot we both visited and liked about six years ago, and sadly, the quality had gone down hill. The place was just as pretty and picturesque as we remembered it, but the sandwiches had bread that was dried out, the clotted cream was too cold, and the quality of the ingredients in the sandwiches just seemed stale and old. The prices had since gone up, as well, so it was not a cheap or even moderately priced affair to come here. They did, however, throw in a free glass of Veuve Cliquot champagne for each of us, but it still wasn’t enough for each of us to even think about going back.

Sometimes people go to places just for the ambiance and are okay to settle for mediocre food. We are not those people.

Ups and downs

I’m still coughing and phlegmy with my voice coming in and out. It’s really uncomfortable being on calls with customers and my colleagues and hearing myself not 100% well, as it’s been nearly three weeks that I’ve had this infection, whatever it is. I thought I was getting better this week until on the train ride home this early evening, I suddenly started coughing incessantly, and it was so bad that my eyes started watering. A woman next to me generously and kindly offered a cough drop. I really just needed water because I was so dry, but I didn’t think to carry a water bottle. It looks like another doctor’s appointment is in tow for me… my fourth in about four weeks.

War Paint

Today, a good friend from San Francisco and I spent the day together. We watched the off-Broadway musical War Paint together, and as two people who work in marketing, a lot of the themes resonated and cracked both of us up. The one that was the most ridiculous given what industry we work in was when Helena Rubenstein, who was back in the day a famous and very wealthy cosmetics titan and icon, was trying to figure out how to increase her company’s revenue. Her then partner says to her, why don’t you just take the same face cream formulation, label one jar “day cream,” and the second jar “night cream”? No one will know the difference! This “genius” idea led to literally double the revenue they had previously seen and much success for their brand. Of course, this was back in the day when women had no idea what ingredients were going into their skincare and makeup, and they lapped up any type of advertising that led them to believe they were becoming more beautiful and “youthful” as a result of all this crap that different brands were selling at the time.

As someone who works in marketing, I realize that there are some things that I am more easily bought in on than others. The “day cream” vs. “night cream” idea is just so awful that it is good.