last Friday, the PSE and i had our second-to-last outpatient appointment at the Dallas Drug Study.
number nine of ten total outpatient visits, stretching from our two-night in-house stay back in late July.
the purpose of these biweekly outpatient visits are to measure how long it takes for whatever experimental pharmaceuticals they shot into our tummies at our inpatient stay to work their way out of our systems.
it's pretty scary to think that we've been walking around, living our lives with experimental pharmaceuticals still floating around in measurable amounts in our blood but, hell, i guess that's why we get paid the big bucks.

i woke up a few minutes before my alarm was set to go off at 5:25am.
the PSE was already awake, she got up at 5:00am, because it takes her longer to do her morning things then i take doing mine.
i brushed my teeth and got dressed and i was ready to go, but first, we had to square the Monster away.
because the Monster has mental problems, we had to give her a Xanex, wait a half hour for it to kick in, then dress her in a ThunderShirt and lock her in her crate with several other over-the-counter separation anxiety coping tools.
the drugs and/or the products may have some small effect to ameliorate the Monster's frantic state whenever she's left home alone for more then a few minutes but she sure does put on her best effort to fight through them and she switches immediately to panic and fear as soon as she's locked in her crate and we head out the door.
tough shit for her, though, i guess, the PSE and i have to go make our money.

we drove forty minutes across the Tom Landry Freeway to the west side of Dallas, to the nondescript office park where big pharma tests their latest inventions on the poor and desperate.
we got there at 6:15am, fifteen minutes early, but found the waiting room empty.
the PSE and i stood around in the hallway for a few minutes wondering where everybody was, if somehow we had the day wrong until finally somebody came out and let us back to the lab area where we found several of our study-mates who had been let back early.
they handed us binders with our initials on them and then, as a group, they asked us the customary series of questions they ask at every outpatient visit.
“have you participated in another drug study since your last visit?”
“have you donated any blood or received any live vaccines since your last visit?”
“have you consumed more then two glasses of alcohol per day since your last visit?”
“have you smoked cigarettes since your last visit?”
“are you willing to continue to use an approved form of birth control until the completion of the Study?”
no, no, no, no, no, sure.
then somebody comes around and initials our paperwork in our binders and we are free to wait around for them to call us back for procedures.
for this visit we only had to give a vial of blood, that's it, no urine collection, no vital statistics, no EKGs, but still, somehow, it was the better part of an hour before the PSE and i got out of there.

like every outpatient visit, i passed the time talking to my Study Buddies.
in a way it's almost nice getting to see the same group of people every other week.
the PSE and i don't have any friends and we don't rally ever get to talk to anybody except for these Drug Study reunions.
unlike Law School where people look at me like a weirdo and don't talk to me, at the Drug Study i'm mister fucking popular and i've got a group of people who just can't wait to greet me with a warm, friendly hello!

i talked first with a pudgy-faced old man who i am fairly certain is a pederast.
he told me about how he got called for jury duty and how he made an effort to take control of the jury and steer them towards acquitting some poor sucker who got a traffic violation.
the guy and i talk a lot about systemic corruption in the legal system and how the whole system is contrived to fuck people over, though, i think when we talk about criminal justice reform we're talking about two different things.
i'm talking about mandatory minimums and private prisons and the failed drug war and i get the impression that he's talking about how much it sucks that you can't fuck kids.
even still, it's important for regular people to report for jury duty and do their part to refuse to convict people for bullshit crimes.
jury nullification, they call that, and it's probably the most important thing average people can do to meaningfully chip away at the prison-industrial complex.

next i ended up talking to my buddy, the Scabby Cat, who is a twenty-one, twenty-two year old kid who i hung out with a lot in the Study and talked about crime.
the Scabby Cat's girlfriend just had his baby two days before and he came straight from the hospital.
“mazel tov!” i beamed, genuinely happy for the kid.
he showed me a picture of his round-headed son and his poor, beleaguered wife who labored for seventeen hours before they finally had to cut the kid out with a c-section.
but the baby is healthy and the mother is just fine so, good on them!
i get a little jealous that this twenty-two year old scabby idiot gets to have a family while the PSE still insists on holding out on me, but, that's a problem for another LiveJournal entry.

after congratulating the Scabby Cat a woman who isn't one of my regular Study Buddies made a play for my attention.
she asked me what the fuck was up with the green dots i have tattooed all up and down my left leg.
i never know how to answer questions like that.
i guess the problem is that people expect other people's tattoos to have some kind of special meaning but mine don't because tattoos with meaning are lame.
i told her that and she told me that she had her dead husband's initials tattooed on the back of her head.
before i could ask her how her husband died -the woman is only in her mid-thirties- she got called back to give her blood and that was the end of our conversation.

finally, the last bit of chit-chat i enjoyed before being called back to the phlebotomy station myself was with a Failed Hustler about the recent mass-shooting in Las Vegas.
because he'd heard it on the radio, i'm sure, the Failed Hustler said that there were certainly “common sense solutions” to America's gun-violence epidemic.
when i asked what he proposed the Failed Hustler said that they shouldn't let mentally-ill people buy guns.
when i told him that they already have laws against mentally-ill people buying guns he said “really!?!” like he had no idea.
like he thought he was the first one to come up with that idea.
in the seven or eight minutes that we talked, i totally changed his outlook on gun control.

as i'm talking to the Failed Hustler, a minute or two before my initials get called for me to go back and give my blood sample and then check out for the day, an older lady Lab Tech walked passed where i was standing and told me to pull up my pants.
i had been leaning forward against a half-height wall and i guess my bottom was sticking out, my underpants exposed.
my underpants are almost always exposed because i'm of that generation where having your underpants stick out was fashionable.
and i guess i never grew out of it because i'm an idiot, but who the fuck is this lady to tell me how to wear my pants!?!
i glared at her for a few long seconds before shaking my head and rolling my eyes and tugging my pants up.
the PSE, who was on the other side of the lab, heard the woman say to another lab tech, that if i give anybody any lip they should kick me out.
i'm not gonna get into it with this woman because the Dallas Drug Study still owes me $1,650, but, that's exactly what really burns me about the situation.
there is nothing worse then when somebody has power over somebody else and they use it to bully and intimidate.
this is the kind of degrading, infuriating shit that made Ted Kaczynski send off all of those bombs.

disgruntled, i gave my blood sample, signed out for the morning and the PSE and i drove forty minutes back to Fort Worth.
we found the Monster had moved her crate five feet by thrashing about and was able to get her mouth on the PSE's school bag and tear it to shreds.
the PSE had to spend the PSE repairing it because the Monster is just the worst.

//[ab irato ad astra]
The Americans - Season Five:
The Americans is a show about a pair of Soviet spies living in American in the 1980s.
every season they have some new adventure to advance the agenda of the dictatorship of the proletariat by murdering innocent people and sleeping with a bunch of strangers.
in Season Five, the adventure revolved around agricultural espionage, because that makes for exciting TV.
the KGB was concerned that America was working on genetically engineering bugs that could destroy their grain harvest but then it turns out that they were really working on genetically engineering a grain that could withstand bugs.
the Soviet spies then had to steal that grain because they are profoundly inefficient at their own agriculture and have to import over 50% of their grain from America and the West.
at some point, one of the Spies turns to the other and asks “why can't we do this?” but that doesn't seem to shake their resolve to keep working for the evil empire.
meanwhile, back in the U.S.S.R, another main character, a Russian who used to work at the American Embassy in Washington but is now living in Moscow, got a job with the KGB investigating corruption in the food-supply chain and the black market for consumer goods
the theme of the season was Russia Can't Feed Itself Because Communism Is A Naturally-Flawed Ideology That Leads To Gross Inefficiency, Institutional Corruption And Malpractice.

in the second half of the thirteen-episode season, the Soviet spies have to spend a lot of their time bullying the teenage son of some Russian defectors to kill himself because that would advance the cause of international Communism, somehow.
abruptly, at the end of the season, the two main characters, people who have been living undercover in America for nearly twenty years, who have raised an American family and have a comfortable American life, decide they want to stop being spies and retire.
but rather then just stopping taking orders, killing innocent people and sleeping with strangers for the KGB, and living out the rest of their lives in a quiet Virginia suburb outside Washington D.C., they just take for granted that they'll be returning to Russia, uprooting their children and all.
that doesn't make a lick of sense.
i don't care how patriotic you are, how indoctrinated you are, if you've been living in America for twenty years, there is no way in shit you would ever want to return to the gloom and despair and want of Soviet Russia.
no matter how contemptible you find Capitalism, it is hard to argue with comfort. or the comfort of your children.
they don't end up going, though, because at the last minute, some important Soviet spy work comes up, so they have to stick around for Season Six, the end.

Season Five of The Americans was fine.
after watching it i read that other people found it slow, but i didn't think so. i thought the pacing was just fine.
my main criticism with The Americans, not just Season Five but the entire premise, is how busy the Soviet spies are all the time.
they have a family with two teenagers, they run a travel agency, they have a second family with a Vietnamese boy as an operation they're running this season, they have to fly back and forth to Kansas every few weeks to have affairs with different people who work in agribusiness, the man has to carry on another affair with the teenage daughter of the head of the CIA and in between all that, they have to listen to hours and hours and hours of surveillance tapes they've recorded from different targets.
how the hell do these people have time for this shit?
i have a hard enough time trying to write LiveJournals, watch TV and shower twice a week.
for being a show about how shite the Soviet Union is but for failing to address why the Soviet spies don't get the point, somehow, for being entertaining but also wildly improbable, Season Five of The Americans earns a 6.8/10.

The Leftovers - Season Three:
The Leftovers is a show about people having to deal with the frustration and anger and resentment of living in an unknowable world.
the premise of the show is that one day, two percent of the world's population all disappear in the blink of an eye and nobody knows why it happens.
there is no rhyme or reason to the disappearance, no explanation either religious or scientific, and the people who are left over just have to keep on living, dealing with the loss and the mystery.
the show has small bit of post-apocalyptic storytelling as background noise, but mostly it is a show about people's coping mechanisms.
if The Wire is a sociology-textbook-turned-TV The Leftovers is a psychology text book.
or philosophy. maybe it's a double major.

the first season of The Leftovers was good, though it took some getting used to.
the second season of The Leftovers was fucking great.
and then came Season Three, the third and final season.
it was a steaming mess of disappointment.

Season Three of The Leftovers sees the main characters all pick up and go to Australia for some stupid reason.
the lady-main character has a job working for the government investigating departure-related frauds and she goes down under to investigate some physicists who say they have a way to send people to the same place where all the people who disappeared went.
the male main character, the lady main character's boyfriend tags along because his schizophrenic father moved down to Australia sometime in Season Two and he wants to check on him.
soon enough the Male Main Character runs into his Schizophrenic Father who, it turns out, has been working with all of the Male Main Character's friends who have all deiced that he is the second coming of Jesus for some stupid reason and they need him to die to take different messages to the afterlife.
the Male Main Character just kinda goes along with that.
the Schizophrenic Father wants to drown his Christ-son so that he can bring back an Aboriginal rain-dance song from the afterlife because he is convinced that a great flood is coming to drown the world and only he can prevent it.
it turns out, though, that there is no flood coming, the guy just made it up because he is schizophrenic and he drowned his son for nothing.
it's fine, though, because the Male Main Character does seem to be unkillable, for reasons that don't make any sense.

the Lady Main Character goes off on her own adventure and ends up finding the physicists who say they can send people through to the same place where everybody who disappeared went to.
the Lady Main Character decides she wants to take a gamble on the trip even though she's got a boyfriend and and a family and friends back in America because she never quite got over the disappearance of her two kids.
you think 'okay, whatever, she gets nuked and that's it,' but then in the last ten minutes of the last episode of the entire series the Lady Main Character is all old and she reunites with the Male Main Character after maybe twenty or thirty years and she explains that, yeah, she did go through a portal to a kind of nether-world where the two-percent of the population disappeared off to.
the two-percent are living in a world that is physically the same as ours only, from their point of view, ninety-eight percent of the population disappeared.
the Lady Main Character makes her way back to America and she finds her kids who disappeared but she sees that they are happy without her so she goes and finds the physicist who invented this inter-dimensional portal and has him send her back to the regular world, the end.
motherfucker, if this physicist is in the nether-world and he knows how to get the two-percent back to the world with the ninety-eight percent, why the fuck isn't he doing that all the time!?!
why the fuck isn't there a large-scale rescue operation being undertaken by the governments of both worlds to reunite both group?!?
why is the Lady Main Character just growing old in the Australian outback and not making a huge fucking deal about the fact that she just solved the greatest mystery in human history?
because she's a selfish shit, i guess.
or, more accurately, because the writers stopped caring.

The Leftovers was always a show that straddled the line between great TV and 'oh-what-the-fuck!'
Seasons One and Two always managed to keep their storytelling on the 'great TV' side of the line but Season Three was off the rails.
Season Three was seven episodes that just didn't make any sense and then the final eighth episode which totally undermined the entire series.
The Leftovers is supposed to be a show about coping with the great mysteries of life.
you would think Rule Number One would be to never, ever, ever solve the great mysteries of the show, but the idiots went ahead and did that.
and they did it in perhaps the most infuriating, most undermining way possible
for being a series of story threads that didn't make any sense and never tied together in the end, for missing the entire point of the series, for ending it all by torpedoing the central thesis and for doing it in a way that leaves you mad at everybody, characters and production staff alike Season Three of The Leftovers earns a 3.5/10.

/[ab irato ad astra]
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October 2017

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