Tag Archives: cancer

Go to the movies to cure cancer

I went to the movies last week, someone gave me a bunch of free movie passes, these were physical tickets, pieces of paper that I had to redeem at the movie theater box office. And so I couldn’t buy my tickets in advance on the phone, I wasn’t even able to use one of those self-service kiosks by the entrance. I actually had to wait on line and interact with a human being.


Which is fine, I guess, it should be fine. All I could think of though was how much easier this could have been had I been able to just walk in and not have to wait on this line. There were all of these other people in front of me, and only one employee actually taking money and printing out tickets. I was curious as to what other people were doing on the line, and so I paid close attention.

They asked for the tickets, handed a credit card, waited while the ticket booth clerk gave it a swipe, and handed them their tickets. I really had to restrain myself from acting out on the urge to get involved. I’d be like, “Guys, why did you wait on this line? There are like eight empty kiosks over there. All you have to do is select your movie and swipe your card. You really feel it necessary to wait on this dumb line? You’re not even going to bother trying to figure out how to do it yourself?”

But you can’t say stuff like that to random strangers. That’s how you get punched in the face. And what am I going to say to the security guard as they escort both of us off premises? “You don’t understand, I was just asking a question, and this doofus punched me!” No, nobody’s interested, now neither one of us gets to see the movie.

But for real, why do you think they only have one person behind that window? Because they’re discouraging you from standing on line. Just use the kiosk. There’s only one person standing there because there are really only a very limited number of reasons as to why you might actually need someone to help process your movie theater transaction. Like my case with the gift tickets. Unfortunately, there’s no option on the touch-screen to scan my passes in.

Do you know how I know that? Because I tried. I at least gave the kiosk a shot. It’s not my fault that I had to wait in line, but I did, and so here I was. What’s everybody else’s excuse? There is no excuse.

And then I finally got up to the window, I got my ticket, and the cashier said to me, “Do you want to donate a dollar for kids with cancer?” and I was just like, “No.” Because I know this game, OK, they do it at the drug store, sometimes they do it at McDonald’s. Let’s guilt you into donating some money. Come on, it’s just a dollar. And it’s for kids with cancer. Pay up.

Don’t think I’m cruel, or that I’m against charity. It’s just that, these movies cost like twenty bucks. Everything about going to the movies is a rip-off. I still enjoy going, and so I’m stuck in the position where I have to pay. But come on, don’t ask me another dollar. Why don’t you give a dollar? Why don’t you donate to charity and leave the fundraising to someone who’s not charging me twelve dollars for a small soda?

It was the same at the concession stand. I bought a small popcorn, that small soda that I was talking about earlier. “Do you want to donate a dollar for kids with cancer?” It’s like, one, how do you know that I didn’t already donate at the ticket booth? I didn’t, but you don’t know that. And two, again, how about you donate a dollar?

And that’s where I had to resist another urge to start a fight with another random stranger. “No,” I said. And the concession lady just looked at me and said, “Really?” Which, I don’t know why she said that, I’m sure I’m not the only person that’s declined to donate before. Maybe it was the blunt way in which I delivered my answer, unashamed, maybe a little annoyed.

But come on, I’m here to watch a movie, not to have some faceless mega-corporation force it’s minimum-wage paid employees to solicit an extra dollar from its customers along every step of the way. I wanted to ask the popcorn girl, “Hey, you, can you give me one dollar? I want to use it to donate a dollar to kids with cancer.” I didn’t, remember that whole me-trying-to-not-get-kicked-out-of-the-theater thing. But I ran through the scenario in my head, I guarantee you I wouldn’t have been given a dollar. And then what, could I have done that whole, “Really?” thing to her? Like, I can’t believe you’re not donating. Don’t you care about kids? Kid with cancer? Come on. Jeez.

We’re all doomed

I get so paranoid sometimes, like way too paranoid. It’s overwhelming, crushing, really. It’s all stupid crazy stuff, and it sounds just like how these blog posts sound, only out loud, in my head, with no word limit, just this constant stream churning a million different detailed scenarios about how I’m going to die, how, yeah, things are going pretty well right now, but it’s just a matter of time before everything takes a sharp and dramatic turn for the worse.

Like this morning, I was feeling especially on edge, I couldn’t find a comfortable spot, not sitting down, not lying down, not standing up. So I thought I’d go for a long run, get into that soothing rhythm where I focus on my breathing. Only this backfired. As I got maybe a quarter of the way over the Queensboro Bridge, I noticed how windy it was.

Specifically, I could feel the wind coming at me from the other side of the bridge, taking all of that gridlocked traffic, accumulating all of that slow, idling exhaust, and shooting it straight into my lungs in concentrated bursts. I tried to ignore it, to just deal with it, to tell myself that, hey idiot, you live in a big city, this problem probably isn’t limited to being on a bridge.

But then I started thinking about all of the bridges and tunnels in the city. I started thinking about all of those bridge and tunnel workers, the cops that stand there and do whatever it is they’re doing, the maintenance guys, the toll collectors. They always have these crazy World War I style gas masks on. And here I am like an idiot running across the bridge, getting my respiratory system into such a state that I’m actually taking in more air than necessary, I’m taking in as many large gulps of pollution as I can.

OK this isn’t helping. I needed to put that out of my head also. What am I going to do, never go outside? Never run across the bridge? It’s not always this bad. Sometimes the wind comes from the other direction and I get to enjoy what it feels like if there were no cars around. But that taste. I could taste exhaust on my tongue. And I wanted to wipe the taste off somehow, but there was nothing to do, I kind of just moved my tongue around, rubbed it on my teeth. And now I was totally going crazy, because I swear I could feel like a film on my teeth, like the inside of my mouth was just covered with this grime.

I was getting out of control here. Clearly this had to be at least somewhat in my head. New York isn’t that dirty. It’s not like how people describe Los Angeles during the eighties, or Beijing right now. All of those other human beings are making it through OK. I’ll manage just fine. And that calmed me down for a second, but then another image flashed through my mind. I remembered I went for a similar long run like a year ago, the same route, the across the bridge, but it was a little longer, I ran along the East River and down the to the Brooklyn Bridge before turning around and heading back to Queens.

And when I got home and collapsed and took off my sneakers I could see it, a clear line in my socks, white below the ankle line, but above? Where the sock didn’t have any sneaker to cover it? It was stained, browned, just being exposed to this city for a couple of hours had somehow done actual damage, like there’s enough dust and grime at the foot level to somehow make its way into the fabric.

And I run a lot, over and over again, back and forth across that bridge, I’m breathing in and out. All I can think of is tiny micro-particulate, the smokestacks to my right in Long Island City, the smokestacks to my left by the FDR Drive, all of that exhaust, the kind of dust that’s so small it takes decades to float down to the earth’s surface, and I’m breathing it in, giving it that powerful inhale, letting it get all the way inside my system, deep in my lungs, into the tiniest crevasses of my alveoli, accumulating run after run after run.


And someday ten, twenty, thirty years from now, I’ll develop this weird post-post-post industrial cough, and the oncologist will be like, “Yeah, we’re seeing that from a lot of guys your age. Nobody really knows any good answers, but here, we’ll give you a bunch of chemotherapy and hope for the best.”

This is crazy. This is a crazy way to spend a Wednesday morning. It’s too much for me. I need a drink. I need some more coffee. And another drink. We’re all doomed.