Friday, February 16, 2007

One Thousand Paper Cranes

Seattle’s metro bus system will never cease to amaze me. In the few short months since I’ve been utilizing public transportation to get to and from work every day, I have definitely seen some strange things. And I've found that no matter how engrossed I try to seem in my book, or listening to my iPOD, or even staring off into space pretending to be midly retarded in an attempt to discourage anyone from engaging into a conversation, there are just some things that cannot be ignored. Just a few examples of the things I've witnessed follow.

  • A super hot guy go into total road rage mode, get out of his car and proceed to scream at and punch the front of the bus.

  • An incredibly intoxicated homeless man who gets on in front of Larry’s Market, harasses women on the bus, and then is generally kicked off by the next stop. I see him about once a week.

  • A woman who treats her mini-Dachshund like a human child. It wears a diamond collar and I have never once seen it in the same outfit. Although it has a leash, the dog is not allowed to walk, but must be carried everywhere.

  • Teenagers who think it’s appropriate to smoke cigarettes ON the bus, and then throw royal fits when they are reminded that this activity is illegal.

  • Far too many people who are so obese that they are forced to use wheelchairs to get around.
These things, I have managed to get used to, and can generally tune them all out with my IPOD and a book. But this morning on my way to work I experienced by far the strangest thing of all.

At First Avenue and Denny Way, a little Japanese man got on the bus. I think I noticed him because he was wearing what appeared to be a colorful child’s snow cap, complete with a little puff ball on the end. With him, he dragged one of those cart on wheels that are used to carry groceries. In his hands he carried several origami crane birds. Damn, I shouldn’t have made the mistake of looking. Immediately, the man stretched his shriveled, arthritic hand toward me, a bright smile revealing jagged, tobacco stained teeth peeking out of his scraggly white beard. I shook my head and smiled politely, as did the woman next to me. Mister Miyagi then offered the folded crane to several other people sitting in the general vicinity, but was either ignored or politely refused. He came back around to me again, and in sympathy, I accepted the origami treasure.

Mister Miyagi was more than pleased. Smiling even wider than before, he began to alternately bow and mumble something about the crane symbolizing peace and would bring me good fortune. This was all intermixed with what I can only assume to be Japanese. I looked sideways at the other passengers and continued to smile politely. Taking my cue, a guy sitting near me decided that he too may in fact need some good luck, and accepted a crane as well. Mister Miyagi rewarded him with several more bows, and if you can believe it, an even wider smile.

His hands empty of origami cranes, I expected the little man to calm down a bit. But he must have sensed that his little creations were more popular than he expected, and reaching down, he pulled another out of his pocket. Pulling on the paper tail, the wings flapped and he giggled excitedly before handing it to the woman next to him with an elegant little bow. Looking around, another man held out his hand expectantly, and with a flourish, Mister Miyagi reached into his bag and presented another perfectly folded crane. By now the whole front end of the bus was grinning at one another.

Now for the grand finale. Apparently out of origami birds, Mister Miyagi rummaged around in his shopping bag for a moment and then turned to me with a grin. In his hand was the most giant yellow grapefruit I have ever seen in my life. The man in front of me actually laughed out loud. This was too much. With a huge smile I shook my head, and then watched as the grapefruit was offered to the rest of the bus. Wow. It had been the most strange 15 minute bus ride of my life.

Legend says that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will have their heart’s desire come true. Perhaps this strange little Japanese man has taken this idea to the next level. By giving away his paper cranes, he apparently hopes to bring peace and luck to the lives of others. It’s been a long time since I have seen a person get so much pleasure out of giving a handmade gift to a stranger. And I have to admit, it was amazing how such a little gesture from a small man was able to put smiles on the faces of otherwise grumpy people on their way to boring corporate jobs.

I’m going to keep the paper crane on my desk, and hopefully it will bring peace and good karma. Otherwise, I’m content to just remember my strange morning bus companion, and smile.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Personal Problem

I received a specific request for a blog containing information about my personal life, so here goes. I don’t think it gets more personal than this.

As many of you are aware, a few weeks after I returned from a Christmas vacation I came down with a severe intestinal problem… much worse than my normal digestive issues. I’m talking more than two weeks of my body almost immediately rejecting EVERYTHING that I put into it. It was like my own personal eating disorder; I dropped down to 113 pounds! When the problem didn’t stop, I started to become concerned that I may have picked up an intestinal parasite in Mexico, super disgusting.

A preliminary appointment and an overview of my medical history allowed the doctor to come to several conclusions:

  • I was suffering from severe dehydration
  • I most likely do not have Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • It’s possible, but not likely, that I have an intestinal parasite
  • I could quite possibly have Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
  • Blood work had to be done right away
  • I needed to be referred to a specialist immediately

Freaking great. I was really hoping to be diagnosed with IBS, which would explain the increasing problems I have had for the past few years, and is easily treatable. No such luck. Also, my test results have come back and I do not have an intestinal parasite and my blood work is fine. So tomorrow, on to the Gastroenterologist for more testing, which I can pretty much guarantee is going to involve very invasive procedures. Here are the details of what I will be tested for:

Crohn’s Disease
An ongoing disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Swelling of the gastrointestinal tract causes pain and can make the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea. Symptoms also include abdominal pain and bleeding. It is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 30. Treatment may include drugs, nutrition supplements or surgery. There is no known cure for Crohn’s Disease.

Ulcerative Colitis
A disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the colon, which causes it to empty frequently. Symptoms include anemia, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, bleeding, diarrhea and joint pain. It usually starts between ages of 15 and 30. Treatment may include drug therapy, hospitalization and surgery. There is no known cure for Ulcerative Colitis.

As you can see, I have a major problem here. I keep seeing words like “surgery” and “no cure” and it’s really starting to freak me out. I can’t wait to go to the specialist tomorrow and get some answers. I guess on a brighter note I’ll get to finally find out what’s been wrong with me for all these years. I’m just crossing my fingers that the initial doctor at Group Health was incompetent and I actually do just have IBS (which isn’t that big of a deal).

In any event, the problem seems to have cleared up on its own for now, and I’m back up to my normal weight. Darn. I kind of liked being so skinny.

I’ll keep all you healthy people posted. Wish me luck…

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Today on my lunch break I ventured out to pick up a birthday card for my sister Nichole. I was out of the office for less than 15 minutes, and during that time I...

  • Was shoved out of the way by a homeless man attempting to reuse a bus transfer ticket
  • Watched someone pick up a piece of chocolate off the floor and eat it
  • Witnessed a man being arrested and dragged forcefully through the isles of Walgreens

Downtown Seattle is obviously a junk show. So, when I returned to my desk I felt the need to unwind before getting back to work. But alas, it seemed that the rest of the world had gone crazy as well. The following headlines glared at me from The Seattle Times Web site: “Astronaut in love triangle charged with attempted murder.” Oh wow. I’m serious. AP story updated at 12:21 p.m.

Apparently, a NASA astronaut has been accused of trying to kidnap a romantic rival for a space shuttle pilot’s affections, and was charged with attempted first-degree murder today. This was due to a new steel mallet, knife, rubber tubing and large garbage bags that Orlando police found in the woman’s possession. Police said she drove 900 miles, donned a disguise and was armed with a BB gun and pepper spray when she confronted a woman she believed was a competitor for the affections of an unmarried fellow astronaut. Apparently, the two had previously had “more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship.”

The best part? The woman raced from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers in the car so she wouldn’t have to stop and go to the bathroom. Astronauts apparently wear diapers during launch and re-entry. And with our talented astronauts cleverly taking these kinds of highly trained techniques and applying them to civilian life, are people really worried about the demise of America’s space program? We’ve obviously got some real thinkers on our hands here. And according to the article, no rules exist against fraternizing among astronauts. So does anyone really see a problem here? I mean we’ve all been known to explore sexual fantasies involving defecation and $600 worth of garbage bags, right? OK, creepy.

OK, I am off to read about “A Kirkland cafĂ© with no prices,” about a coffee shop where people pay (or don’t pay) what they like. I’m telling you guys… the world’s gone CRAZY!