After a week in stir, I didn’t wait very long to get a beer, unless you count the time spent perusing the menus at the many overpriced airport eateries, looking in vain for something vegan. (True to their overly cautious nature, the nursing staff had ordered me a cab that deposited me in the terminal three hours before my flight, so I had plenty of time for perusal.) I eventually settled on the one place that served some local beers. Once seated, I learned that the menu of “seasonal specials” included a veggie burger—a Christmas miracle! I guess people who want to give a gift to the planet go to Bar Symon at Dulles on Xmas Day and have a vegan meal.

Meanwhile, at Moe’s Bar & Grill, airport employees are apparently getting their holiday meal. A buffet table is laid out with all the typical foods, which people pile into throwaway containers. Some then have their pictures taken in groups. Must be nice to have a job.

My father once got stranded at an airport (JFK probably) waiting for a flight (to Japan possibly). During the hours of waiting, I think he sent at least three postcards to our mother. So apparently this business of writing at airports is in my blood.

My plan is to get full of food and beer, and possibly a Xanax, and then sleep for the whole six hours of plane time. [EDIT: Plan did not work well. I slept for maybe 90 minutes and spent the rest of the time listening to Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book and avoiding the cute little girl next to me watching Shrek.]

Last night, after watching School of Rock and My Cousin Vinny, patient H and I went for a walk around the deserted campus. It would certainly be a fascinating place to hang out for several weeks, with interesting talks by cutting-edge researchers. Sort of like living in Berkeley except that all the talks would have a biomedical angle and there would be no wine served before or after.

If only I could find a research protocol that doesn’t require locking me up and taking my crochet hooks, nail clippers, razor, plastic bags, and cords. Sadly, my husband just mailed me some kosher cords a few days ago (a set of earbuds and a short phone charger). Someone will need to return the packages. Maybe this happens all the time, just as the nurse practitioner reassured me that “all the time” people get discharged without getting into a protocol.

Last night the D.C. Gay Men’s Chorus visited the Clinical Center to sing to the patients and staff on every unit. Afterwards they were given cider and cookies (or “Saturn cookies” as my father once heard it spoken by a Tennessee-bred coworker). Today I wrote to the Freedom from Religion Foundation to complain about this egregious promotion of religion, plus the fact that the entire unit was festooned with Christmas trappings, including a large tree. I will also be writing to the NIHCC Patient Representative to voice my displeasure with several things about my stay, most of all the scheduling snafu that had them bring me to the center more than six weeks before there would be any protocol I could join. I wonder if airing my complaints will get me blacklisted as a potential patient.


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