Tag Archives: sneezing

Lame Adventure 186: I’ll Sneeze to That!

As one can see from this sneeze chart created by my friend, Coco, illustrating the 546 sneezes I sneezed between the 365 days starting with my birthday on May 4, 2010 through May 3, 2011, I am capable of sneezing fairly steadily most months.

One thing I did not sneeze at was when I approached Coco to take all the data I had collected about my sneezing over the course of the past year to create this chart.

Sneeze Diary at start of this count in May 2010.

Sneeze Diary, worse for wear, May 2011.

Me:  Hey Coke, do you know how to create an Excel spreadsheet?

Coco:  Yes, I do.

Me: Great!  Can you whip one up for Lame Adventures?

Coco:  You want me to create a sneeze chart for you now?

Some back-story here; the hour was fast approaching midnight and we had been watering ourselves for the better part of six hours … A week later my loyal clotheshorse friend, who has spent years in retail therapy, resisted to make good on her threat to turn the bullet points into little Louboutin shoes, created this mini-masterpiece depicting the year’s worth of snot and mucous that has flown out of my face over the course of the past twelve months.  What a woman!

Although whenever I glimpse myself full frontal naked, I am reminded why I am not a fan of the aging process, I highly recommend keeping a sneeze diary to anyone who dreads growing older for it will make you crave the arrival of your next birthday, even if it includes more flab and liver spots, with the enthusiasm of a sleek tween.  Within days of beginning this idiocy, I ascertained that keeping track of a year’s worth of sneezing was a supreme annoyance, especially when those sneezes occurred when I was not equipped with my pen and notepad, requiring me to make full use of my hole-riddled memory.  Now that a year’s worth of record keeping is complete, I can once again sneeze with reckless abandon like any other ordinary sneezer.

If I am talking on the phone and I sneeze, riding the subway and I sneeze, writing this blog and I sneeze, reading The New Yorker and I sneeze, watching a play or a movie and I sneeze, in a meeting with my boss and I sneeze, rounding the bases in a romantic moment just before sliding into home plate and I sneeze, I can be like all other ordinary sneezers, and forget about it.  Yet, during my year of sneeze counting, I was compelled to dig out my Sneeze Diary and immediately note that sneeze (or sneezes).

A word to the wise here, if any readers of this blog decide you want to count your sneezes, and there are signs that you’re on the brink of romantic fulfillment, but you sneeze at a crucial juncture, do not stop what you’re doing with your source of affection and note that particular sneeze at that particular time in your Sneeze Diary.  Simply said, bad idea.  Take it from one that’s been there and done that. Can anyone say, “Buzz kill”?

Upon reflection, my colleague, Ling, who has sat next to me for many years, and has heard more of my sneezes than anyone else, thinks there was very little margin of error in my count, or as Ling recently said:

Ling:  You really think you might have missed some?  You’re writing in that notebook all the time.

I will admit that I was somewhat obsessed with striving for accuracy with my count.  What I have learned about myself sneeze-wise is that like so many other allergy sufferers, I sneeze copiously during the months of May and October.  December was a fluke.  For the first twenty-two days, I sneezed a total of twenty-two times, but then I spent Christmas in Northern California and my sneezing jet propelled almost as soon as my flight touched ground in the Bay Area.  On Christmas day alone I sneezed twenty-four times, so clearly this jaded New Yorker is deathly allergic to happy holiday cheer in The Land of Granola.

2011 started relatively sneeze free until Monday, January 3rd at seven fifty one in the evening, when I sneezed for the first time this year.  For the next five months, I sneezed another 130 times.  55 of those sneezes occurred from April 16th through May 3rd.

Final entries.

What does any of this sneeze data tell me about myself?  It confirms what I always suspected that I am a steady sneezer.  Now, I can move on with my life … Maybe start a new sneeze-related count – how many boxes of tissues I shoot through a year?  Maybe not.

Lame Adventure 142: Après Christmas

I am still vacationing in Marin County, thousands of miles away from blizzard smothered Manhattan, where I refuse to worry too much about leaving the window open in my humble abode …

Usual view outside my window following a blizzard. I hope this is not the same view inside my apartment at this moment.

As soon as the clock struck midnight Christmas Day, while I was assisting my sister, Dovima, with setting up presents and as I imagined falling thunderously into the fireplace, waking the entire household and setting off the dog, Thurber, I sneezed four times.  Sixteen minutes later, I sneezed twice more.

Always looking for trouble Thurber.

Fortunately, as we opened gifts later that morning, my sneezing took a reprieve, but it returned with a vengeance at 10:47 am when I sneezed an additional twenty-five times through the course of Christmas proper until I exhausted my supply of sneezes at 11:01 pm.  As I sneezed a final three times at that moment, this exertion prompted my sister to ask:

Dovima:  What was that a million?

Me (disappointed):  That was only 31 for today.  At least I made it to thirty.

Dovima:  Now you can shoot for forty.

My niece, Sweet Pea, found this exchange hilarious.

I have been counting my sneezes since my birthday last May 4th, and I intend to count them through May 3rd since I start what I finish, no matter how inane, useless and absurd.   With the 31 I accrued on Christmas day, I am up to 372.  Après Christmas I have returned to a modest number of sneezes again, four on Sunday and zero thus far today.

Dovima was baffled why I had such a sneezy Christmas.  The house is clean.  Tangy, the cat, lives outdoors which is great for me since I am deathly allergic to the kitties, but if there was one cat I’d love to pet, it’s super cool Tangy.

Mellow Tangy keeping warm on my brother-in-law's carhood.

Thurber, Tangy’s nemesis, the pampered prince of a dog Tangy finds pathetic, is a hypoallergenic Poovanese (poodle-Havanese mix).  Back in early 2009, then 14-year-old Sweet Pea, either in an act of supreme self-sacrifice or obscene sibling rivalry, was willing to donate Thurber to the Obamas before they adopted Bo.  This was coincidentally during the period when Sweet Pea and Thurber had rather frosty relations.  I am pleased to report that they have since made amends and are now on much better terms.

Best buds Sweet Pea and Thurber chilling together on Facebook.

Lame Adventure 122: Sneezing Matters

Recently while speaking via Skype to my across-the-pond colleague, Elaine, she asked me:

Elaine:  Anything new with you?

Me:  I sneezed 51 times last week.  Thus far, that’s 270 sneezes since my birthday, but those 51 sneezes account for more than 19 percent of my sneezing total this year.

Elaine’s expression was a cross between stupefied and irritated.

Elaine:  Don’t you have anything better to do with your time than count your bloody sneezes?  Maybe I should start counting my farts?

She shifted her weight and for all I know emitted such a powerful silent-but-deadly at that moment she could have felled the entire New York Giants defensive line.

I suppose Elaine raised a valid question about why I have been counting my sneezes for six months now.  When I commenced counting my sneezes on May 4, the day I turned the 14th discrete biprime and the 5th in the {3.q} semiprime family having the prime factors (3.17), I vowed I would do so for the entirety of a year.  I intend to continue this mission unless an unforeseen situation, such as finding myself felled by a piece of space junk, or possibly one of Elaine’s high octane farts, leaves me so impaired I lose the capacity to maintain this count for another six months.

Since I am still able to breathe freely, from May 4 through November 3, I have sneezed a total of 278 times.  Over the course of those 184 days, I have emitted an average of 1.5108695 sneezes per day.  What constitutes half a sneeze I am at a loss to define, but there have been several times where I’ve felt a sneeze coming, but it chooses to remain stuck in my sinuses, which is a most disagreeable feeling on par with an ear drum that will not pop or hearing any song sung by Celine Dion.

Oh! You and your stupeed sneezes!

Below are some highlights of my 278 sneezes.

The nose that has launched 278 sneezes.

The week starting Monday, October 25, through Sunday, October 31, was my high water (or, more accurately, my high mucous) mark.  I did not have a cold but I sneezed incessantly that week, the aforementioned 51 times, accounting for 18.346% of the total.  The first week in May that I began this count I sneezed 24 times.  In August, there was an astonishing* period of nine sneezeless days between 8:52 pm on Sunday, August 15, while writing an email to my sister, Dovima, until 1:32 pm on Tuesday, August 24, following a gynecological exam.  Following is not the same as during the exam proper, nor have I sneezed during other recreation of a horizontal nature, but I did sneeze in bed (alone) at 1:03 am on Monday May 17.

I have had numerous occasions where I’ve sneezed at my place of employ, the Tile Dust Bowl of America.

I’ve sneezed on planes, on the subway (the 1 local is a favorite sneezing place and fellow passengers often say, “Bless you” to me), and in my sister’s car while driving in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’ve sneezed while urinating on Friday, July 16 at 8:05 pm.

I’ve sneezed ten minutes into the August 8 episode of Mad Men (third episode of Season 4 called The Good News).

I’ve sneezed while watching plays – Gabriel (Atlantic Theater Company), The Little Foxes (New York Theater Workshop), Angels in America Part 1 (Signature Theater Company), Orlando (Classic Stage Company), and while waiting for Gatz (the Public Theater) to start.

I sneezed thunderously in a lobby that could have doubled as an echo chamber while waiting with Milton before the doors opened at the 3LD Art and Technology Center.  We had tickets to Lawrence Wright’s one-man show about the ongoing crisis in Gaza, The Human Scale.  My sneeze earned us the stink eye from the elderly couple ahead of us even though it was not a sprayer.  Milton vividly discussing how his company’s resident thug knows where he stores the pizza cutter, which Milton is sure the thug will use to slice their boss, also rated us additional disapproving glances from the female half of that equation.  I noticed during the performance that she slept soundly through most of it.

I’ve sneezed while watching films – Toy Story 3, Nowhere Boy, but my entire experience at this year’s New York Film Festival was sneeze-free.

I’ve sneezed while having my blood pressure checked at my gastroenterologist’s office.  My blood pressure was 109 over 72.

I’ve sneezed while writing this post, but that sneeze will count in my tally of sneezes for the next six months.

*Astonishing for an otherwise avid sneezer.

Lame Adventure 56: Sneezing Numbers for May

Last month I had my birthday.  It was an ordinary one, not the crisis kind that reminds me that, thus far, I’ve essentially misspent my entire life from cradle to (as I inch closer) ash.  Besides, I can think that thought any day of the week, especially when I ponder how overseeing tile labeling is my current <cough> get rich slow career.

On my birthday proper, May 4th, when my UK-bound colleague, Elaine, set foot in the office at 8:54 am, I sneezed twice with hurricane force and had a light bulb.  I thought, “I wonder how many times I’m going to sneeze this entire year until my next birthday?” I also happened to have a small spiral bound memo book in my satchel, a perfect notebook to start jotting daily sneezing notes.  I call it My Book of Sneeze.

My Book of Sneeze

I also considered writing a second blog, one entirely devoted to nothing but my sneezing.  Before setting that one up, I ran this idea by Milton who opined in a voice that sounded very similar to someone who had just been force fed a tennis ball courtesy of Serena Williams following a bad call.  My close confidant gagged, “Please don’t. You don’t want to know the kind of person that would follow something like that.”  Next, I suggested just summing up my entire month of sneezing in a single post here and that met his seal of approval, followed with this reflection, “I can’t believe you’re really going to count all your sneezes for an entire year.  That’s fuckin’ crazy.”  One man’s crazy is one woman’s blog post.

My sneezing highlights and statistics for the month of May from the 4th through the 31st are as follows:

May 4th – birthday: 7 sneezes; two scoring solid 5’s on the sneeze-o-meter with 1 being a suppressed sneeze that explodes inside one’s head and 5 being delivered with such velocity that children and pets (including fish) hide.

Monday May 17th – high count sneeze day: 8 (2 at work; 6 at home).

Home: 44 sneezes

Work: 25 sneezes

Other (walking on street, while visiting friends, in a store, etc.): 14 sneezes

Subway: 4 sneezes

Volunteer Ushering (Gabriel at Atlantic Theater Company): 1 sneeze

No sneeze days: 4

Overall, I sneezed a total of 88 times during those 28 days in May for an average of 3.1428571 sneezes per day.  Onto June!

I suspect that the power of suggestion from this woman's daisy decorated headpiece, whether artificial or real, is what prompted me to sneeze twice while observing her sit opposite Marina Abramovic at MOMA on Monday, May 31st.

Lame Adventure 39: Chimes in Hell

If sneezing were an occupation, I would have a career, or maybe even find myself CEO of a multinational corporation, one called Sneezers, Inc.  It was Friday night, Milton and I had tickets to see our close mutual friend, Albee, star as Vincent Cradeau, the coward sent to hell, in an Off-Off-Broadway staging of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential masterpiece No Exit.  The basement theater, 13th Street Repertory, was a tad musty.

As soon as the lights dimmed, I suffered an allergy attack, started sneezing, and managed to sneeze my way through the entirety of this very entertaining ninety-minute play.  When I am at home or at work, I generally sneeze with hurricane force, but in this intimate setting, I stifle my sneezes for fear of shattering the cast’s concentration, as well as distracting my fellow theatergoers.  Afterward, Milton assures me that my incessant sneezing was “remarkably quiet, I barely heard you.  I’m certain no one on stage did, either.”  Albee later told us that the only distraction he suffered was minor, seeing his father dozing in the third row.  If my father attended, I doubt that he would have fallen asleep, but I am sure he would have asked many questions:

Dad:  Where the hell were they supposed to be, hell?

Me:  Yeah, it’s set in hell.

Dad:  So they were just driving each other nuts for eternity?

Me:  Yeah.  Sartre’s most famous quote is from this play, “Hell is other people.”

Dad:  Huh.  Can’t argue with that.

Although this was minimalist staging, and the first production by this new theater company, Marble Bath Productions, when great writing meets talented acting and inspired directing, it’s theater that works well.  It will be very interesting to see what MBP stages next.  In addition, all of the proceeds from this initial production benefited Haiti.  This prompted Milton to remark, “Haiti now has more of my money than I do.”

Professionally, Albee uses the easy to remember stage name Kuros Charney.

A possible side effect of having 327 sneezes implode inside my head over the course of ninety minutes, I wake with a significant headache Saturday morning.  I pop a fistful of high-octane head pain reliever, and just as the pain begins to lift, I hear rustling and jangling outside my window.  Constantine, my next-door neighbor (see Lame Adventure 3: Neighbor and Muffin ), is in the process of hanging wind chimes.  Who the hell hangs wind chimes in New York City?  You hang wind chimes in the country, places with space and soft warm breezes, not cramped urban places rife with airborne soot.  Furthermore, why not hang these wind chimes in one of his other windows, such as the one not facing my bed, and in essence, my aching head?  Now I am feeling beaten in the brains with tubular bells.

I consider raising a fuss about this, but it’s not like he has a belching bagpipe or a screaming car alarm sitting in the windowsill.  Therefore, I decide that getting dramatic about this is rather petty on my part, and besides, my headache has subsided.  I go out and take a walk, burn off some steam.  When I return, I see Constantine leaving our building.

Constantine:  Hi, how are you?

Me (thinking):  Woke with a brain tumor, my neck is always stiff, I can’t stop sneezing, I suffer constant dry eye, and I hate your wind chimes.  Hell is other people.

Me (saying):  Pretty good.  Can’t complain.  And you?

Constantine:  My sister in Greece got me a belated birthday present, wind chimes! They sound so soothing!  I hung them between our windows so you can hear them, too.

If I strangle him, would this be called neighborcide?

Me:  Oh, you shouldn’t have.  You’re just too thoughtful.

I enter my apartment, glare at the chimes and sneeze voluminously.  They tinkle.

My source of force-fed mellow.

Lame Adventure 34: Blooming and Sneezing

Next weekend’s forecast in the tri-state area is looking dreary, lows in the 40s and highs in only the 50s.  It might even rain both Saturday and Sunday.  The past two weekends the weather has been lovely.  When the weather is warm and sunny, I like to go outside and enjoy it.  Even if I’m just running my usual weekend errands, foraging for food and skin searing cleaning supplies, it’s much nicer doing so under warm sunny skies than when it’s 27 degrees and icy snow is piled everywhere.  One of the downsides of spring is that the tree is blooming outside my window so I’ve been sneezing thunderously.  A few times I think I’ve come close to tearing some upper body cartilage I’ve been sneezing with such ferocity.  Just as I typed that sentence I sneezed.

Tree outside my window starting to bloom and making me sneeze.

At work, Elsbeth’s been dry coughing frequently, Ling’s been phenomenally congested, Elaine, Greg, and I sneeze often, and even the Quiet Man in the back of the room made a sound today that prompted the following exchange while we were sitting at our desks feigning consciousness:

Ling:  God bless you, Quiet Man.

QM:  Thanks Ling.

Me:  Did he sneeze back there?  It sounded to me like he dropped something.

Ling:  No, that was a sneeze.

Me:  Really?  It sounded to me like a falling glass or anvil.

When I sneeze, it’s definitive.  Windows rattle, animals howl and children cry.  But I digress, back to basking in warm weekend sun.  When I stalk the streets of New York, I usually carry a camera.  Two weekends ago, people were photographing the dogwood trees blooming all over the Upper West Side, and I thought, “Yawn.”  Here are my shots of springtime.

Dogwood trees on Broadway. Snore.

Why? When I want a beer, I want a real beer.

The Pink Flamingo of the Upper West Side.

Garden in a can!

Come to the UWS and adopt a vacuum cleaner.

It was gone within an hour.

Last weekend, my errands included trying to exchange a bottle of Kiehl’s Tea Tree Oil shampoo for my preferred variety, Protein Concentrate Herbal, but unfortunately, the scent I like still had not arrived and the Tea Tree Oil is okay.  It only smells slightly like embalming fluid.  Upon leaving the Kiehl’s store, I was walking up Columbus Avenue and then at the corner of 67th and Columbus I thought of my friend, Roz.

Twenty years ago, Roz and I were walking on this same street when we saw Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, pushing two strollers with their kids, Satchel and Dylan.  They were standing at the corner waiting for the walk signal.  Roz starts whacking me repeatedly on the arm with the back of her hand murmuring urgently through gritted teeth, “Do you see!  Do you see!  Do you see!”

Roz is also twice my height and bears a striking resemblance to French actress, Fanny Ardant.

Fanny Ardant channeling Roz.

I have always looked more like a dung beetle, albeit with glasses.

A relation of mine with 20/20 vision.

Of course, I was completely aware of their presence, but Rule 17 in The Cool New Yorker Handbook dictates: under no circumstances will you betray a glimmer of recognition when in the presence of celebrity, and this includes while in the company of spastic close friends.  Back on Columbus Avenue in 1990, Roz is so frustrated with my apparent indifference to this A-list sighting, she is almost pummeling me, indirectly creating a scene.

Woody Allen notices us.  He giggles.  We walk past him.

Roz (exploding):  What the hell is wrong with you?  Do you know who we just walked past?  Are you blind?  I don’t believe you!

Me (uncharacteristically calm):  Thanks to you, we just had the honor of amusing Woody Allen.  How many people can say that?

Now, twenty years later as I cross that corner, I recall that Roz’s birthday is approaching and I have to get her a card.  And, this year, try harder to remember to mail it.  As I continue to walk up Columbus Avenue, I notice a middle age woman in cuffed skinny jeans, a shabby looking double-breasted brown corduroy coat and wraparound tortoise frame sunglasses.  She is trying hard to look inconspicuous and that’s when it dawns on me that this is actress Joan Allen, or the winner of the Joan Allen look-alike contest.  I half want to channel my inner paparazzo and photograph her, but I remember Rule 17, keep walking and respect her privacy.  This was probably for the best since I then sneezed vociferously prompting a car alarm to activate.

Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons on Broadway in Impressionism in 2009. Good cast, mediocre play.