Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blood: Neighbors

Stu, the bleeder reclining in the next chair, was drunk. There was no other way to describe him. Stu's eyes were glassy and his skin was flushed. He moved deliberately, as through waist deep water, and he slurred his words.

"Somebody come here and rub my leg," he burbled.

The milkers giggled nervously and stayed the hell away. He'd been openly hitting on every woman wearing scrubs who came within spitting distance. When he wasn't making a play, inviting someone to come home and have breakfast with him (ha ha), he detailed his long and storied love life. He was working on his third divorce, and was just waiting for a court date so he could go ahead and marry the very pregnant 19 year-old girl who was waiting outside in the car.

"She's gonna have twins," he said. "She's got red hair, but she's ugly."

The plan, he said, was to stick with the girl for a year then divorce her as well. Stu wanted to have a total of seven wives before he was finished with this lousy, old world.

"I'd thought I'd seen the worst of the worst working at the regional jail," one of the milkers complained. "This place..."

All of us near Stu looked at each other. The air went out of the room. Someone had maybe said a little too much.

"He don't mean it." Another of the milkers spoke up. "Stu is just talking. Everything is a joke with Stu."

"He's joking," a third said. "But he ain't lying."

I never doubted it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blood: New Order

It turns out the company that runs the plasma center has been purchased by another plasma center (or gobbled up, if you will). The change happens later this week. So, as I asked one of the milkers about it.

"Any major changes?"

"Not really," he said. "They're going to start paying out with checks instead of cash."

"Checks?" I asked.

"Yeah. For our clients (bleeders) who don't have checking accounts, they can cash them at Sav-a-lot and we'll cover the dollar fee."

I frowned. That's a hassle, but I understand the reasoning. They're probably worried about liability and somebody getting mugged in the parking lot over 25 bucks --which isn't entirely unlikely.

I guess I don't mind it. The cash was convenient --just go to the nearest grocery store and spend, but it's not like I've stopped needing the money. So... whatever.

"They're also going to offer some new programs."

"What kind of programs?"

"Different types of plasma."

"Oh, like strawberry, cherry and banana plasma?"

He laughed. Smart ass.

"Yeah, something like that."

I have some idea about what these might be. He was talking about other blood products, some of them are enhanced by things like antibiotics, maybe steroids (Hulk smash!) which they inject into the bleeder beforehand to help create natural immunities or whatever. From what I understand they offer more money since it probably increases some sort of risk of dying young and painfully.

I'll have to see what happens. Hell, it would the first raise I've had in a while.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blood: Cars

Just a small observation, but at the plasma center, you can sort of see how the place divides up between the bleeders (people like me) and the milkers (the employees) in the parking lot. Bleeders park closer toward the main entrances, while the milkers park further, presumably to an employee entrance.

The cars are different, too. I just noticed this, but Bleeder cars are almost always American models --a lot of full-sized Chevy sedans, Ford Vans and the occasional truck. I also spotted a pretty sweet looking Lincoln Town car, which seemed wildly out of place. Only a few economy cars, however, --I have one --and no real imports. Among the bleeders, I don't recall seeing a Toyota, Honda or Hyundai.

Bleeders also ride bikes. There's almost always a bike outside waiting outside the front door.

Among the milkers, there appears to be more variety, with more imports and a couple of vehicles bordering on sports cars --not so many Chevy products, however. The cars are also generally newer and in better repair.

What does this tell me? What has always been apparent, it's better to be a milker than a bleeder.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blood: Reading Group

The guy across from me probably tipped the scale at 360 or 370. He was a big guy in cargo shorts, black xxxl t-shirt, sandals with a copy of a book about the occult on his lap. It was a hardcover with a complicated pentagram pressed into the front. The book's title referred to the occult in capitol letters --as a warning, I suppose.

From across the aisle, I could see he was re-reading his book. Somewhere, there was undoubtedly a notebook full of notes and observations. Passages had been highlighted in yellow and he turned the pages with fingernails that ended in sharp points.

My first thought: Are you fucking kidding me?

Of course, I was reading a book on freemasonry, only modestly less full of shit. I wasn't reading it so much to join up and rule the world (which would be fine), but to hear why Dan Brown is full of shit.

I saw what the tubby Satanist was reading and put my book down. I decided I did not want to have a discussion about "esoteric knowledge" at the fucking plasma center, not that I could have made out much he was saying.

Evidently, Lucifer had not provided his faithful servant with front teeth. He had a sloppy, toothless lisp, which quite frankly, creeped me out, with the Satanism book.

When he wasn't reading about the hierarchy of hell or learning about what sort of spells could be invoked to turn himself into a morbidly obese werewolf, he seemed to be trying to will himself to bleed a little faster --not that I blamed him. I was doing the same thing.

Meanwhile, quietly, the young, black woman to my right was going through a thick, dog-eared and ratty looking book on accounting practices. One of the attendants, a young, black man, tried to tease her about studying and asked her what it was all for.

"CPA exam," she said and I thought, well, there you go. That's the only power that's going to get you out of having to do something like this.

I wish her well, hope the test is soon and she passes. I hope she never has to donate (sell) plasma ever again.

The Satanist and me probably deserve this. Based on our reading choices, I'd think so.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blood: High Cost Of Living

After I started this business with donating (selling) plasma, my wife asked me, "How long do you think you'll be doing this?"

I shrugged. Until things get better I guess.

"You don't have to do this," she told me.

I told her, well, yeah, I did if we wanted to continue to eat.

"How long?"

"A year," I said. "I figure I'm on the hook for a year."

"Things could get better," she said and reminded me about that business thing she's been working on with her dad. "We could end up with several thousand dollars all at once. That would help."

I nodded.

"It's only a year. I can do a year."

She didn't like it, but let it slide. Sometimes it's better not to point out the obvious. I said the same thing about working nights at the book store. That went on for about three years or so. I said the same thing about working Saturday nights for the radio station. That was over three years ago. I told her the same thing when I picked up Sunday nights a couple of months ago and there's no end in sight for that one.

So, I got my twenty this morning. They give you twenty the first time and twenty-five the second. There are some hopes the compensation (blood money) will be going up since the company is in the process of being sold. I took my earnings to Food Land, bought some household items including dish detergent, bananas and a six pack of Slim Fast.

Sometimes when the fear sets in, usually at night, I want to eat. I'm ravenous and want to devour everything in my path. This is kind of counterproductive. The Slim Fast should be enough to stave it off at least until I get a handle on it.

The money went fast. All that's left jingles in my pocket. I have no idea how the winos do it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Birthday Post-Game Wrap Up

Things worked out pretty well. Much of the credit should go to the good folks at work, who must have gotten tired of my bellyaching about how birthdays tend to suck for me. They took me to lunch, loaded me down with a variety of sodas and quirky gifts (including a bottle of 10 year-old single barrel bourbon) and basically made me feel like I mean something to someone.

It's funny how I need that sometimes. Most men live lives of quiet desperation. I'm not most men, I bitch about it and when I can, I poke fun at it. Still, it's nice to feel appreciated. It's fucking amazing.

I also got a ton of facebook messages wishing me well and a few notes via e-mail, suggesting or offering me other ways to make extra cash. It was very thoughtful, though probably I'll be bleeding for a while to come. Anyway, it meant a lot that a couple of people wanted to give me a hand in such a way.

I still wound up mowing the lawn. I did not go to the track, but I did hit the local goodwill and found a trench coat in my size (a bargain at less than $6). Dinner at the house was a low-key affair, but peaceful.

The best part is a little thing. I got a couple of i-tune gift cards, good for music through the i-tunes store, something I've never used though I've had my i-pod now for six months. On i-tunes, I found an obscure Pink Floyd song called "Number 51 Your Time Is Up," a variant of another obscure song called "Careful With That Axe Eugene."

The song is on a film called Zabriskie Point --never seen, don't know what it's even about-- and the last time I heard the tune, it was 1989 and back then I didn't know what the song was called precisely or what it was from. I've spent 21 years looking for that song and now I own it.

It's a trinket, an artifact from my past, but one I've wanted returned to me for a very long time. Just getting that one 99 cent song would have been enough to make my day and I got so much more.

I am incredibly grateful.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blood: Half-Shell

The process is pretty much the same every time. You go in, you check in through one of the self-serve computer terminals and play the plasma center's game of twenty questions.

Hint: If you want to donate (sell) plasma, you have to say you haven't been to Haiti, used IV drugs or had your salad tossed (even once) if you're a guy. However, I'm starting to think the who being in jail thing might not immediately disqualify you. I think it only does if the jail was in Haiti, you were arrested while shooting up or if you and your cellmate were in the process of picking out china patterns when you were released.

Anyway, after the information is given, everybody sits around and waits for their name to be called. Having access to cable television is nice, but nobody wants to spend a long morning catching up on the slick cops and robbers shows of the last ten years.

The next step is the health screening. For no cost to you whatsoever, you're weighed and measured. They check your weight, your blood pressure, your blood's iron content, etc... You can also chat up the attendant, because they're, to a man, bored out of their fucking socks --and dear God, it's only 9 in the morning... (cue the sound of a whip in the background and the distant screams of the damned)

So far, I've talked to the attendants about my job, which might have been cause for some concern I'd have thought, but apparently wasn't. As usual, they wanted to know why no decent bands ever play in Charleston. I tell them the truth. It's not my fault.

Of the parts of the process, I sort of look forward to the health screening because it's kind of weird. I never know what we're going to talk about. I've discussed the mystical importance of dragonflies, talked about the pros and cons of fish sandwiches and even the purpose of the tests being performed on me.

This morning, we talked about the attendant's shirt.

"Hey, the Ninja Turtles," I said. "I love the Ninja Turtles."

She looked at me and smiled, wearily. It was possible, she'd already heard this today and may not have believed me. The t-shirt was tight. The woman was amply endowed and the old turtles were in 3-d.

"I've got a four year-old," I explained. "We watched a couple of the movies a few weekends ago. I got them at the library."

It, apparently, was the exact right thing to say.

"Yeah," she said. "I never liked the cartoon turtles, but I really liked the movies." She shrugged. "I've got a three-year old."

She nodded, took the blood, then fished around the desk for a blood pressure cuff.

"I can't believe how hot it is in here."

I shrugged. The air conditioning was cranked up. Any higher and I'd be able to see my breath.

"It's probably because of the." I pointed at the cotton mesh white jacket thing she was wearing over her t-shirt.

She nodded and took my limp, relaxed arm and pulled it toward her. As she slipped a cuff around my bicep, by accident, my fingertips, then fingers and finally the palm of my hand went right under a pretty firm ninja turtle.

My first thought: Oh shit. This could go badly. If I move or say anything to bring attention to the fact my hand is pressed against Donatello (or it might have been Raphael --which one has the ninja knives?), she will scream. I might get arrested. At the very least, I might get tossed from the building and maybe told to never come back.

I needed the money and will continue to need the money for some time to come, so I kept my big trap shut and tried to remain calm, very calm.

"Yeah," she said and looked at the mesh smock. "It could be that."

She held my arm, with my hand under her right breast.

"I don't think this cuff is going to work."

I nodded. They usually have to use the larger cuff. I sort of have guns these days. It's kind of cool and I might have told her, if my hand wasn't noticeably mashed against a pop culture icon painted on her shirt.

She slipped the regular size cuff from my arm, turned and picked up another cuff, the proceeded to put my hand back under a different turtle, while she affixed the larger cuff.

I did not smile. I did not frown. I did nothing but stare blandly ahead.

After she got the machine rolling, she moved, released my hand and I relaxed a little, which probably did wonders for my blood pressure, not to mention my peace of mind.

It's kind of funny. This sort of thing used to happen from time to time when I was younger, when I was twenty and a strapping, if not entirely handsome, guy. There were a couple of hairdressers who seemed to like pressing their chest into my neck, my ears, my forehead whenever they cut my hair.

I know getting your hair cut can involve pretty close quarters, but give that I tended to prefer clipper cuts, I'm at a loss to explain why the rubbing unless they had flippers for arms (which I would have noticed --probably).

I don't know --the timing, with turning 40 --seemed odd. It was a weird and made me think of who and where I was 20 years ago. Back then, I'd have probably tacked another dollar onto the tip. This time around, I was sent on my way after she was done. I went to the back to bleed for my wages, which I used to buy pork chops (manager's special $6.66, but more with tax) and a lottery ticket.

The rest I donated to my wife. She'd been talking about getting her hair cut at the mall for a couple of days.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Festivall 2011

FestivALL has consumed quite a bit of my time lately. As an observer, it's been a more interesting year than others and I'm curious about how it will eventually play out. Still, I have a couple ideas about additions for next year, things that could be done to be a little more inclusive, a little more interesting and a little more fun.

I'm even sticking to the high road (mostly) and staying positive, which is rather big of me, actually.

1-Let the local independent wrestling group do a cage match or some silly shit on the boulevard. Slightly chunky guys in black tights hitting each other with metal chairs screams art. Sell beer and make it a family event. Embrace low culture. Besides, wasn't it Oscar Wilde who said "All art is useless?" If that's a working definition, professional wrestling is high art indeed.

2-Open up a metal or alt-rock stage. I couldn't help but notice that all of the death metal acts who do the Capitol Street tour and play either the Empty Glass or the Sound Factory are all leaving town for the weekend. They're playing in Boone County. That seems wrong.

But credit where credit is due, the city bringing in Americana, alt country and rockabilly during FestivALL for some of the free shows is a significant and admirable improvement. Those are good shows.

3-Introduce a signature FestivALL food or treat. I have some ideas --most of them bad --about what it could be, but basically do what everybody else does: find something that shouldn't be deep fried (candy bars, twinkies, coca-cola, sheep's testicles) and fry it. Serve it on a stick, if possible. Have a contest. Award rights.

4-Ask the steering and idea committee for FestivALL to use drugs --at least, directly before big meetings where decisions are made on what to bring in. FestivALL could really use a couple of potheads on the board to come up with lame ideas that might actually work. There is a general sense of FestivALL trying not to be stuffy, which in and of itself is kinda stuffy.

Illicit drug use could do wonders. Plus it would be fun to see the mayor high. Put it on a webcam.

5-Do a serious, permanent art installation in the city. Every year. Leave a significant mark on the city like a jailhouse tattoo. It can be a mural or a sculpture. Use a local artist. Good or bad, let it stand. Arguably, they're already doing this. I just think the scale needs to be larger and more prominent. I love the East End, but come on... maybe downtown?

FestivALL starts tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blood: Making Friends

I'm learning all kinds of things about donating (selling) plasma as I go along. Today, the tidbit was about dairy products. Consuming dairy products before you donate (bleed) is bad. It slows the process down.

I also found out that my protein and iron counts are healthy and my blood pressure is very good. Those months spent at the gym are paying off. I am so proud.

After a little over a week, I'm starting to recognize some of the faces. These are the regulars. It makes sense. We're all on the same schedule, coming in at roughly the same time and on the same days. One these days, I will be a regular.

It's pretty grim thought.

Today, I suspect (though, it is only a hunch) I was seated in the recliner next to a prostitute. She was older, with bleached out hair, dried-out skin and weathered teeth. She was friendly, but it felt like there was an agenda behind it.

The guy on the other side seemed genuinely nervous that the company was sending off a blood sample.

"We do it every four months," the tech said.

"And if you find anything, you'll call me, right?"

The tech nodded.

"I mean, anything, right?"

That's bound to make you wonder what he's worried about, if maybe he's done something explicitly frowned upon by the donor (bleeder) code like had sex with a guy (even once since 1977), shot up or been in jail for longer than three days.

Anyway, he clammed up and the maybe prostitute wanted to chat with me. She talked about a friend who was supposed to join her. She eluded to him being a ride home, but it sounded hollow. He never arrived and then she waited by the back door, on the other side of the exit, where we all go once we've been paid in cash. I think if one of the other clients hadn't been standing against the wall, smoking a cigarette, she'd have propositioned me.

Twenty bucks is twenty bucks, I suppose.

Or maybe not. She might been in something of a fix without a ride, but she didn't seem all that worried. It felt like a scam. I didn't stick around to see if I was right. I had to get to work.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blood: Hurt

I knew there was going to be trouble when I told them to go with the right arm. The last two times I'd offered up my left.

With the cuff inflated, the technician poked and prodded, looking for a good vein. I could see them and didn't think there would be a problem, but she was slow about it. She seemed to be deliberating.

"Is there a problem? You want to use the other arm?"

"No, it's fine," she said, though I doubted it. "I was looking for the marks from last time."

"I asked to switch arms," I told her. "You know, just to let the other one rest."

She nodded and told me it wasn't a problem.

"I've got a good vein," she said. "It's just crooked."

She slipped the needle in, plugged me into the great, blood sucking machine then bumbled off to plug someone else in or take them off the line. Saturdays are pretty busy and the staff was discussing the pros and cons of ordering fish sandwiches, the pros and cons of substituting an extra order of fries for the coleslaw and whether the oil spill in the gulf would ruin their chances of ever having a decent fish sandwich again.

They talked about this things with each other but only chatted with those of us reclining and bleeding. The conversations happened simultaneously, but were at very different. When the farmer sits on a stool milking his cow, he speaks only to soothe, not because he particularly cares what the animal bleats back. Communication isn't really the goal.

I tried to read and listened here and there to snatches of conversation. A couple of guys across from me talked basketball. I watched a pair of lesbians come in and get plugged in, which still amuses me.

Gay men are specifically barred from donating (selling) plasma. Men who have had sex with another man... even once (maybe after too many beers while watching season one of the Dukes of Hazzard)... are not eligible. However, women who dig women are fine.

It's a curiosity. You'd think they'd have worked the issues with that out by now.

Anyway, the machine took it's time. It beeped and stopped and stalled. The bottle of yellowish fluid, the plasma, was only slowly filling up. My arm started to hurt and I was afraid the tech had fucked up, speared the vein and maybe ruined the donation.

This was only my third time (officially, a habit) and already I'd heard plenty of horror stories about what happens when the machines malfunction, when the staff makes a mistake or if you move too much. If the process fails, it can eject you from being able to donate for weeks, even months, and pathetically, I'm counting on every dollar.

I toughed it out, though the process was going slowly and the soft crook of my elbow, where the needle was buried, ached. It was all I could think about. My arm hurt, but I didn't want to lose the donation. I didn't want to have to come up with another way to fund my luxurious, sophisticated lifestyle.

One of the new technicians, new because they were training her last weekend, noticed the machine acting up and called someone over to help.

"It's blocked," they said. "The feed is blocked."

I didn't know what this meant, but they looked worried, which made me even more worried.

"Let me see if I can..." the more experienced tech adjusted the needle. The machine stopped sputtering and complaining. The bottle started filling up.

"Better?" The young woman asked.

I nodded. It still hurt, but at least it was going. At least, it wouldn't take so long.

I was never so glad to get out of that place, to collect the cash and just be anywhere else. I wanted to go blow the money on something fun, on something to make me feel good again, something to make me feel like less like a whore --you know, someone who sells his body for money?

You can't buy anything like that for $25. It can't be found. They don't make it. It doesn't exist.

Instead, I spent the money on groceries. 25 bucks went for cat food, trash bags and some odds and ends meant to last just a few days. I got two boxes of macaroni and cheese for my youngest because I promised, picked up a bunch of bananas, a cheap roast and some canned vegetables to turn into stew. I also bought bread and a bottle of $3.00 wine whose only use is for cooking --and maybe not even that.

For me, I splurged on a bag of pinto beans, the cheap kind you have to carefully pick through for rocks and wash twice to get the dirt off.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blood: Barn Talk

"I have two alligators. They're about this long." Holds hands about two feet apart. "I feed them baby ducks. Anybody here watch Doctor Who?"

"My son got custody, of course not in the way he wanted or expected. His wife and three others were on their way back from a methadone clinic. She'd been going for a year... a year... and the judge kept telling my son she should keep the kids because she was trying. Honestly, I don't know how. God forbid, I never wanted anything to happen to her, but I was so glad when they split. Here, he was working a fork lift ten hours a day, making good money, while she was at home fucking around on him and doing heroin. My God, she was only 25."

"I really wish someone would make a good movie version of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century." It's about time and they could do a really good job if they wanted."

"I tell them every time I come in, ABC --anything but "Charmed." I hate that show, but I guess somebody likes it."

"This is your second time? How'd the first one go? Not too bad, huh? You came back."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Artie and the sandwich

Artie is 81 years old and the highest point of his life was that he was in a production of "The Fantasticks" almost 50 years ago.

We met oddly. He called my office to tell me he'd moved back to the area a year and a half ago and noticed that the jazz shows at Tamarack were both poorly promoted and poorly attended. Shocking, I know, but he wanted to talk to me about what he could do to help. He promised lunch. I said, "OK."

"I want to tell you that my heart isn't completely in this," he said as we sat, not having lunch at Jimmy Johns on Capitol Street. He even wore a seersucker suit for the occasion and how often do you seen one of those? In my line of work? Not too much.

"My head," he said, "I mean, is not really here. I've had a troubling week. It's been difficult."

The trouble for Artie is the same trouble it always is: women. Artie has three divorces under his belt and had been getting friendly with one of the women in the church choir where he also sings. She straightened his tie. They shared some Nicholas Sparks inspired dialogue, had dinner, went to see some really poorly promoted and poorly attended jazz shows at Tamarack, but he believes she's been stringing him along as a "foil" for another man.

The love and sex lives of octogenarians who also collect, and distribute to friends, carved coal "art" don't usually interest me, but he'd promised lunch and I was willing to listen since there was shit either of us can do to encourage people from Charleston to go see jazz bands nobody has heard of at the state's premier highway rest stop and souvenir emporium.

"I went to see her," he told me. "And there was a big sports utility vehicle parked in the drive."

He shook his head. It was disappointing. He liked her. He might have been considering making her number four.

Artie also likes music, which led to an odd aside into his experiences with "The Fantasticks," the single greatest moment in his life, where for about two months in the early 60s he performed nightly in Chicago with some little troupe who'd managed to secure permission through a dodgy connection with Jerry Orbach (he was also on "Law and Order"). One night, one of their friends used another dodgy connection to bring the whole cast in while Frank Sinatra rehearsed with Count Basie.

"The orchestra played and Frank stood by his microphone and kept time, snapping his fingers," Artie said. "He mouthed the words to the song, but never sang. "

The rat pack were all sitting in the front row. At the end of each song, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Joey Bishop, Shirley MacLaine and a few others would hoot and cheer like it was the greatest thing to ever happen.

Artie thought it was pretty cool, too, and I had to agree, though I wouldn't have minded a sandwich.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Blood: a list

Some numbers and notes...

$3.99 Watermelon (I hate watermelon. My father has occasionally doubted my paternity based on this fact, but it's watermelon weather. The family loves it)
$8.99 Purina Dog Food (We get good stuff. The silly dog won't eat the other)
$1.83 Two gold pears (Shop with a four year-old, expect negotiations)
$3.51 Five Red delicious apples (I will be lucky to get two of the five)
$2.50 Hot Pocket (Not mine)
$0.99 Dozen eggs (A family staple when we get tired of beans)
$1.50 Sharp Cheddar Cheese
$3.18 Two tubes of breakfast sausage (marked down. They go great with beans)
$3.19 Gallon 2 percent milk

Some deductions...
(free eggs coupon)
($3 dog food coupon)

Total: 27.88
What selling plasma pays on your first visit: $30
Am I a little creeped out to have bought dog food and a hot pocket with my blood? Yes. I think that's fair to say.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pin the tail on the donkey -part 1

40 only happens once. I could hope for the best and maybe the day would work itself out, but I'm not counting on it. This is fine. I have a plan or at least the start of one.

First off, I'm not going to work.

I need money. So... on my birthday, I will go sell plasma. That should net me about 30 bucks. 30 bucks isn't a lot, but it's enough to get started. I can do this early in the morning. Maybe the people drawing blood can be coaxed into singing to me. That would be awesome.

For five bucks, I can get my palm read at this little new age store. They open mid-morning.

With the remaining funds, I will go play slot machines. I have actually never been out to the Tri-State Gambling Den. With a little bit of luck --and baby, I have it coming --maybe I'll have enough to purchase a present for myself, something classy from a thrift store. If not, I stay just long enough to lose fifteen bucks.

I considered adding having lunch at one of the topless places, but (sigh) I'm just not feeling it. Old age, I guess. Besides, I only have ten bucks, unless I do particularly well with the slots, then I am having a thick steak, cooked medium rare, maybe some sweet potato fries and a double margarita (menu subject to change, but you get the point).

However, in the off chance I only have ten bucks, I need to work out where to get a decent bite to eat for only a ten. Again, I could have a slightly larger budget. I might find enough change in the parking lot, for instance, but I'm not counting on it.

Either way. No fucking beans. No fucking rice.

And that's about as far as I've gotten. I need to work out an afternoon day trip, but can't go too far. I've got a 6 p.m. appointment and will need to stay sober, too.