Nov 30

Dear Reader,

Don’t worry! Troi’s still got some hair left!

I find that hair is nice, and having it is even nicer. I am, in fact, a big fan of hair. So when I began losing my hair at an accelerated rate over the summer, I immediately took notice and found it mildly disturbing.

Four months later its unparalleled loss had not been ameliorated. As a cool and collected person known for my calm and rational reactions to daily life events, I was not particularly concerned by the slightly troublesome state of my once plentiful hair and saw no need to go to the doctor.*

*I was totally freaked out by my impending baldness and made a hysterical phone call to my doctor begging him to identify its cause and fix me immediately.

Several days after my doctor’s appointment, I was called in for a follow-up appointment, during which time I was informed that I am severely anemic, which if left untreated leads to rapid hair loss. The typical level of ferritin in a person’s blood (ferritin is a protein in your blood that binds to iron; its level is equal to that of the iron in your blood) should range from 18 ng/mL at the lowest end to 160 ng/mL at the high end. My ferritin level was, literally, off the charts at 10 ng/mL. I’ve never had a low score before (I was valedictorian in high school, graduated from college with a 3.92, and I still claim that my single A- in graduate school was wrongful assignation of an academic letter grade, although the court threw out my case and ignores my endless appeals), so I was distressed by my first failing score. And, not to sound overly concerned with aesthetic beauty as it is a person’s inner beauty that counts the most and blah blah blah whatever, but I was also concerned with fixing this anemia before the remainder of my hair decided to depart and join its fellow strands who have taken leave of my head.

My doctor was less preoccupied by my hair loss and more fascinated by my delay in actually investigating the etiology of my problem. “So you’ve been having this problem for four months? And you just now came to the clinic?”

“I’m a very busy and important person,” I explained to him, since I like to think that I am.

“Have you been tired lately?”

“Well yes, but that’s because I’m so busy and important.”

“Have you been dizzy? Fainting?”

“No. Yes. Just that one time. Oh and that one other time.”

And by this point in the conversation I’m feeling like a complete idiot. Primarily for being so vain that I considered fainting an insignificant detail whereas I perceived hair loss to be a highly traumatic and doctor-worthy event. But also for waiting so long to pursue the etiology of the problem. I suspect that my hesitation was due in part to mild embarrassment related to the nature of the problem. What healthy, active (active in that I run to my freezer to get ice cream, and run to the store to get more when it’s gone) 30-year old female experiences hair loss? I think I was sort of hoping it would magically regrow if I pretended it wasn’t a problem.

But since today’s appointment, I’ve done my web-based research, and it turns out that anemia is one of the most common causes of female hair loss, followed closely by thyroid disease, endocrine problems, connective tissue disease such as Lupus, and gynecological conditions such as ovarian tumors. My anemia, and many of these other conditions, are highly treatable. But, it turns out, you have to actually go to the doctor to treat them. So, Readers, learn from my impressive ignorance, and if you notice your hairs are beginning to stray, don’t wait four months to investigate. Or you’ll end up looking like me. 🙂

–Troi out

Nov 23

Dear Readers,

I have for the past several years attended a Catholic young adult group, not only for the plentiful happy hours, nor exclusively for the fabulous parties hosted by Mike and his Keg, but for the genuine friendships that have developed and the pleasure I derive from enjoying fellowship with these friends (often, I enjoy them at our weekly happy hours, or at Mike and his Keg’s fabulous parties, but I assure you that is purely coincidental). The single members are dwindling in numbers as we are gradually overtaken by those members who meet, pair off, and take their vows at such an accelerated pace that I’m often clueless as to their pairing until I inquire as to their absense at happy hour and am informed that they are on their honeymoon.

It is with such swift and efficient grace that these Catholic mergers materialize that I often suspect the fleeting daliance they call dating is really just a requisite pre-merger period to allow the future bride sufficient time to rank her female friendships into a hierarchy from person-who-hands-out-the-program-at-the-ceremony at the top (that’s me, AWESOME!) to maid-of-honor at the bottom (loser).

This marriage pandemic has become so severe among Catholics that a break-up, also known as the complete rejection of the Catholic pre-merger phase, shakes the group to its core.

I witnessed this several weeks back as two members failed to transition from their pre-merger phrase of dating into its properly finalized form of unconditionally-unending union. The Catholic male in question was met no less than fourteen times at a party with the following inquiry:

Catholic partygoer: Where’s [Catholic female]?
Catholic male: We broke up.

The collective horrified reaction of “What happened??” led me to suspect there are probably only two justifications that would have been deemed acceptable in response, and these would have involved untimely death and/or deportation.

Or that she wasn’t Catholic. 😉

Of course in stark contrast there is me, who has become so phenomenally successful at the art of breaking up that if I go three weeks without one I become concerned that I’m losing my edge. My pre-merger phase of dating tends to stagnate and then reverse into the classic pre- pre-merger phase of friendship, and sometimes the break-up is so successful that we are catapulted back into the pre- pre- PRE- merger phase of “Do I know you?”

I would like to think there’s a happy medium to be found somewhere between dating for three weeks and getting married, and dating for three weeks and breaking-up. Two good friends of mine dated “through every season” to experience each other for a full year before taking the nuptial plunge, and after three years of marriage continue to experience and demonstrate mutual devotion at its finest. If I were to one day experience unbridled devotion to another human being who could both receive and return it, I would hope to emulate theirs.

In the meantime I remain your proud singles sponsor.

–Troi out

Nov 14

Dear Readers,

The newest addition to the Starbucks team

Have you been feeling pooped out? You’re not the only one. Turns out your cup of coffee might be pooped out too. Literally.

The cuddly weasel-like creature you see here, known to most as the Asian palm civet and known to me as the Pooping-Coffee Cat, has a particular affinity for coffee berries. The Pooping-Coffee Cat feeds on only the ripest and tastiest coffee berries and poops out the beans undigested. As the coffee berries are partially digested, the inner bean mixes with the Pooping-Coffee Cat’s digestive enzymes, resulting in a bean that is revered for its superior taste and lack of bitterness. Once the bean is extracted from the Pooping-Coffee Cat’s feces, that is.

The Pooping-Coffee Cats make their living mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, the Phillipines, and in East Timor. Their defecated coffee is sold primarily in Japan and the United States and a cafe in Australia sells the delicacy for an affordable price of only $33.00 US dollars per cup. (And to think I looked everywhere but Australia for a cup of coffee with a price tag that exceeded a tank of gas.)

Consumers have questioned whether the pooped out coffee is sanitary, but the Pooping-Coffee Cats’ publicists assure me that there is no public record of illness resulting from drinking this fabulous fecal beverage. Although, what self-respecting person would actually come forward and confess to having contracted illness by these means? What would they say to their doctor? “…I’m wondering if my stomach ache is at all related to that $33 cup of coffee I drank this morning that came from beans cultivated in the digestive tract of the Asian palm civet and then evacuated in its subsequent bowel movements…?

What I’d like to know is who makes their living sorting through the civet’s feces and gathering the cherished beans. I realize in this economy we can’t be too picky about our employment options, but I know that when I have my intake at the Temp Agency, in my list of skills and experience the last box I’m going to mark is the one that says “Ability to sort through the bowels of homely animals of Asian origin.” I can only imagine my work day: “Hey Fred, I think I found one over here in this pile of fecal matter! Yep, it’s a coffee bean…wait….no….damn, it’s just another acorn. Let’s keep looking….”

Learning about the Asian palm civet and its generous contribution to the world of quality coffee reminds me of the age-old saying:

A cup of coffee in the hand is worth two Asian palm civet’s bowel movements in the bush.

–Troi out

Nov 9

Dear Readers,

The other day as I worked in a kindergarten classroom I overheard the classroom teacher reading a book to the students. The book was a fairly generic children’s book teaching standard kindergarten vocabulary words such as muffler, jumper, and galoshes……wait, what??

These may have been standard kindergarten vocabulary words in the early 1900s when the teacher bought this book, but to my twenty-first century knowledge a muffler is a car part, a jumper is one who jumps, and galoshes have been extinct since our last President outlawed three-syllable words because he couldn’t pronounce them and his advisors suggested a simplified one-syllable term to replace it. And so it came to pass that in present-day Portland, we use words like scarf, dress, and boots. Thereby saving a total of four syllables, increasing the efficiency of a given conversational exchange as follows:

Yesterday: “You look dashing in your new matching jumper and muffler. Now run along and fetch your galoshes so you don’t catch cold in that tempestuous snowstorm.”

Today, after reading Troi’s revolutionary blog: “Put on your dress and scarf and boots and let’s get outta here.”

I move that we simplify the length and complexity of all of our words, thereby increasing the units of information that can be exchanged over a finite period of time. Imagine just how much information I could share in one of my lengthy (yet highly enjoyable!) voice mail messages if I weren’t constrained by multisyllabic words.

Think about it.

–Troi out