Friday, March 26, 2010

"You Stupid Plasma-Giver!"

This plasma donation center recently opened nearby.

When I was in college, a couple of my friends started donating plasma at the local . . . I don't know what you'd call it other than a plasma donation center. On a couple of occasions, I dropped them off at the place (I believe it was called Or-plasmic), but not before asking them why they would be doing this.

They told me that it's something your body naturally regenerates, and you get paid for donating it. Well, I had a job and a fear of people laughing at my genitals (later I found out plasma isn't what I thought it was), so I never joined them on their little expeditions, but I always wondered if I should have.

Okay, I didn't always wonder. You caught me. Nobody gets anything by you. But I did wonder once.

At my job in L.A., there was a Red Cross bus that would come once a quarter to take blood donations. After a couple of Topol-stains flew planes into a couple of buildings, everybody started to feel that it was their earthly duty to go there and give blood (in case it happened again? Yeah, that was probably it. Sorry, but it's the truth, kids), and I wanted to join them. You see, in L.A. I never felt like I was one of the cool kids, I never felt I measured up, but I was surrounded by wealthy, successful, attractive, confident people, and I wanted to be them. They grew out their sideburns, I'd do it too. They took up jogging, I'd do it too. They entered strange little pyramidy marketing schemes, I'd do it too. They leased a new car instead of buying a used one, I'd do it too. They read "The DaVinci Code," I'd do it too. They poured kerosene on the homeless, I'd do it too. They gave blood at the Red Cross, I'd do it too.

But I was afraid, I have to admit. Partly of the needles, partly of people laughing at my genitals, and partly because we've all seen the movies where a dude gives blood and then faints dead away. Plus, while I was fainted, they would probably laugh at my genitals.

But after Marie Boland, the loveliest lass you ever did see, said she hoped she could donate blood, even though she weighed around a buck-oh-two, I thought, "I am going to pretend to be brave/cool/generous/dangerous and donate blood with her. That way, if she faints, I can catch her.

"And if I faint, she can be the last thing I see."

Well, I didn't pass out, and the whole giving blood thing wasn't a bad experience at all. And I felt good about myself afterward, as if I had done a good turn. It was like in my previous life when I was a Roman emperor and I would sometimes give thumbs up to one of the gladiators, just because I thought it would amuse the gods.

And I did the whole quarterly blood donation thing up until they sent me packing from that job.

I guess this is my roundabout way to explain why I decided to donate plasma, but it would have been so much easier to say this: I do my best writing when I am stuck somewhere. A cabin, a jail cell, a friend's house, in a car, your girlfriend's bedroom, a mechanic, a doctor's office. Since I don't go to doctors or dentists since that "Tell me when it stops hurting and starts to feel really good" experience, I rarely find myself in a waiting room with a notebook, filling its pages with undistracted imagination.

And that, kids, was my primary motivation for this whole plasma thing. If I had a set appointment every week (or twice a week, apparently) where I was stuck in a chair with no computer or television or mp3 player or ouija board nearby, I know that I would write at least one day a week, every single time. And that's something I truly need. In my conversations with my other friend who writes, we both agree that our greatest challenge in the creative process is our own sloth. We're both far too undisciplined to set aside a scheduled writing time and stick to it. Heck, there were times when we both worked together that he would say, "Okay, for the next half hour, we're both gonna write," since that's what we had talked about the day before, and I would say, "No."

And that was the deal, much more than the small amount of money they give in exchange for the darkish liquid. Not that money is a bad thing, mind you. Is it? I mean, I know that people are always saying "money is the root of all evil" like it's a fuggin' Bible quote, but that seems to be taking it a little too far. Just like saying "money makes the world go round," only in the other direction. Too bad the quote isn't something like "LOVE of money is the root of all evil." We'd all be better off.

So anyway, I signed up at the center, made an appointment, got the physical exam (which is always a little weird), blood tests, interview, and electroshock, and started coming in to plasmate. In a week, I wrote a complete story from beginning to end. I would have written more, but it's not possible to write once I'm actually in the chair with the gigantic needle in one useless arm (though I could buy a laptop for that purpose and maybe it would work, but then I'd just feel that familiar guilt every time I didn't use it). I started on another story the last time I was there, but I've currently got bigger fish to fry, and ought to be writing on that instead of anything else right now (including this).

I'm starting to wonder what the point of this post is (now that it's taken me a week and a half to write it). I guess I was going to say something about writing, and something about how unpleasant it was the first time, since I got some strange claustrophobic sensation halfway through and nearly bolted screaming for the door never to return. But since that never happened again on subsequent visits, I sort of dismissed it to bad shrooms. I know I had a reason for writing this. I guess that's why procrastination is bad.

Bad writer, no cigarette!

Isn't that the cliched writer accessory?

Rish Outfield, Brain Donor

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