Friday, September 19, 2008

The Baby Lizard

Food poisoning.

That's right, food poisoning.

It all stems from The Problem I Can't Solve. Namely, what to do for lunch at College of the Desert. One great flaw of life here in the Coachella Valley is there aren't any pizza parlors. There are plenty of Pizza Huts and "italian ristorante" type places with table cloths and such, but no place with $1.75 slices.

What's an on-the-go college student to do?

Many of my fellow students make due with the food court at the Westfield Mall. Which isn't too bad. The hamburgers offered by the school cafeteria don't seem to be too popular, but I'll look into them eventually.

Anyway, while I was driving around looking for something or other last week, I thought I found just what I was looking for: a Quizno's right next to a Starbucks out in Palm Desert.


I love Quizno's, and right next to a Starbucks makes it one stop shopping for me.

Alas, yesterday after Technical Drafting (Drafting is HARD.), I headed down Monterey to where I had spotted the delectable duo. But alas, the Starbucks was still there, but the Quizno's was closed.

But there was a place called Chop Stix, a chain offering "Fresh Asian Flavors."

(My stomach heaves just typing that.)

And so in I went, and ordered a chicken spicy basil bowl or something. I noticed that despite the name, Chop Stix gives out plastic silverware with their food. But after a short wait, there was lunch. And I was starved.

I took a bite, and I thought, "Huh. That tastes kind of odd."

I thought it was odd in the way of being unfamiliar, but no, it was odd in the way of being someone left the chicken out overnight or the sesame oil was rancid.

And I ate the whole thing, not even concentrating on it because I had my first Spanish test yesterday.

After lunch, it was back to campus and off to the language lab, getting in a little last minute cramming for the test. Which went well. Although it occurred to me that this was the first time I sat for a test like this in over twenty years. Just that alone felt really strange. I remembered somehow (how?) all those testing strategies from high school: read the directions carefully, read over the entire test and do an easy section first as a warm up, and don't forget to put your name on the paper.

I think I got a decent grade on the test, although I took some chances with the essay section, in which we were writing to our new pen pal, Marta Valles. (¡Hola, Marta! ¿Qué tal? Me llamo Drew. Soy un hombre de cuarenta y tres años. La feche de me compleaños es el veintinueve de octubre.)

After I got done the Spanish test, I headed to the meeting of the College of the Desert Architecture Club. I'm liking the Architecture Club. Activities include doing fundraising of various sorts so that we can go on field trips. Every year in June, there's the Big Field trip, as in a week in NYC or Washington DC or somewhere. And, there are lots of local field trips, too. In a couple of months, the plan is for us to go to Frank Gehry's Disney Concert Hall in LA to hear a concert, in order to best appreciate the purpose for which the space was designed. Cool!

During the Architecture Club meeting, I was feeling vaguely queasy. At six o'clock was my California Building Codes class (the instructor is this totally woofy ex-Marine from Queens). By the time that was over at 8:30 (las ocho y media de la noche!), I was having sweats and chills.

And so it's been.

It was a beautiful day here in Palm Springs, a few clouds in the sky and at times a light breeze blowing. Or at least, during the three minutes when I staggered out of my darkened apartment to step outside onto my patio, that's the way it seems.

I did manage to get together with That Cowboy for lunch today. We went to Rick's and I had a cup of the cold cucumber soup and half a chicken salad sandwich. Portions at Rick's tend to be Man Sized, but the way I was feeling, my lunch could have been served up in a wheelbarrow or some kind of trough. But I did what I could.

After lunch, I went home and went back to bed. Over the past twenty-four hours, I think I've slept for about twenty of them. And y'know how when you're sick, it affects your emotional state? Well I totally have that. All bleak and pointless and doomed. Thoughts that I haven't had since I've been here in the desert, that's for sure. And they felt so unreal.

But then, the healing happened.

Just now, there I was, deep asleep, when I felt something on me. Probably a fly, I thought. And swatted it. And there it was again, in the cup of my clavicle. So I brought my chin down to my shoulder, a move any fly could easily avoid, and this one didn't. I moved in with my hand and tried another swat. And this time, I felt it. And it didn't feel like a fly. It felt like a little gummi worm.

Okay. Freaking out now. Wide awake. On goes the light. What the hell is in bed with me?

And there it was: a little lizard. It looked new-born, it's skin translucent, so I could see it's little heart beating.

Hey buddy! Where did you come from?

And that's a question I haven't answered to my own satisfaction. Apparently, there's not a whole next of fingerling lizards in my bed, so where did this one hatch and how did it find its way into my bedroom?

No matter.

I deposited it on the floor and watched it skitter under the bed.

I'm saying "lizard," but in my fevered delirium, I was thinking salamander. In the Tarot, the salamander is associated with fire, and therefore with vitality and creativity.

I took the little guy for an emissary, sent by the Universe to bring me comfort and healing. Lizards, after all, are beneficial. They eat bugs. I totally don't mind having lizards in my house.

So far, the healing hasn't quite set in yet. I still feel pretty crappy. I think I'll give That Cowboy a call and see if he wants to hang out and watch television and stroke my fevered brow and apply cool washcloths to my burning forehead. (I know, right? Who wouldn't be up for that as a great way to spend a Friday night. I hope That Cowboy will recognize it for the test that it is.) Or maybe not. It's almost ten o'clock (las diez menos seis de la noche!), and he might already be out and about enjoying his Friday night after a week of working out in the hot sun, so perhaps I'd best just settle in for the night on my lonesome. But we'll see. Worth a shot anyway.

And Good Health is on the way. And the harbinger of that is now skittering around under my bed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey -

Riverside County has grades posted for restaurant inspections. An "A" doesn't guarantee you'll be bacterium-free, but it's more likely you won't puke.

Around here (San Gabriel Valley - Monterey Park, near Chinatown and Pasadena) we figure that any restaurant with a "B" grade has to be serving authentic flavors (grin). Of course, there's always something and it sounds like you found it. Glad you're not dead.