with a bowl of oatmeal in my stomach, i headed off to work. most of the day i was waiting for my 2:45 doctor's appointment at mass general. i drank plenty of water and didn't bother having lunch. i got so hungry that i broke down and had a bag of leftover salty potato chips, which probably threw off my blood pressure reading.

when i got to the doctor's office, i don't know how long i waited, anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. the secretary had me update my hospital information by calling somebody down at the records department. when i told the woman where i worked, "squid country safari," she broke out laughing. i almost fell asleep waiting. the hospital was like a war zone, people sitting in the hallways, wheelchairs everywhere, several people with surgical masks, the place just thick with sickness. i like my doctor (harvey simon), i think he's famous actually, he writes health books, his specialty is cardiology, which is why i picked him in the first place almost 6 years ago. he's such a nice guy, the kind of doctor that if he says, "you're going to be fine," you believe him, even if it's terminal. i can't help but to think he's a senior citizen doctor though, almost all his patients are old, but i never felt out of place visiting him, just a little bit weird sitting in the waiting room with a dozen grandparents.

finally i was called into his office - a beautiful corner office overlooking the hospital garden with the zakim bridge in the distance - and we chatted a little bit. i was very excited to let him know i'd been exercising regularly, although i could still use a little more work eating a sodium reduced diet. he took my blood pressure and i was surprised it was high - 142/94 - but he didn't seem particularly worried, said that since i'd been off of one of my medications, it was normal that my BP would be high. i was still a little dismayed though, i figured with all this exercising, one day i could be off of the medication, but it looks like i still need some work, and the drugs are still keeping me alive in the long run. "why i have you here, i wonder if i can check you for testicular cancer," he asked me. i said okay, and laid down on the examination table, but stood up when i realized he wanted me standing. "just drop your trousers," as he put on a pair of surgical gloves. i froze, like an animal caught in the headlights. you figured he'd be gentle, but he actually gave my boys a good squeeze, i guess better to be safe than sorry. after the cancer exam was over, i quickly buttoned up, neither of us talking about what just took place. he printed out my prescriptions and signed them, no more confusing prescription slips!

before i left, i had to give a blood sample. i'm usually very chatty when i give blood, and it's very apparent it's a defense mechanism to overcome my nervousness. this time, i thought i'd just shut up, play it cool. the nurse laid out 4 small test tubes with different colored rubber caps for the different blood work tests. i rolled up my sleeve, she tied a rubber strap to my bicep, had me squeeze a rubber ball, while she fingered a vein, swabbing down the area with an alcohol-soaked cottonball. then she stuck me, and milked me of blood. "are you chinese or japanese?" she said me. "chinese," i said, "but we all get nervous!" my little contribution at brevity. "i had a japanese patient tell me that japanese people think spanish is easy to pronounce," she informed me. "that's true," i said, "both languages have similar syllabication. what nationality are you?" i asked her. "dominican republic," she replied. i thought she was dominican! she sounded like manny ramirez. when it was all over, i got a ball of cotton taped down to my arm with a bandaid. i took the t back to work, feeling week, because i just gave blood (even though just a little), and because i didn't have any food. at south station i got some bourbon chicken and ate it at work, finishing off about an hour more of work before it was time to go home.

getting back to porter square, suddenly there was a blinding snow flurry. passengers leaving the station were confused, as there was no reports of any snow activity. i crossed the street to cvs and drop off my prescriptions, then went to the porter square star market to get some groceries, before going home. the flurry was gone by that time.

julie was coming over to make paella, which she had been raving about since early december, before she got her paella pan for christmas. to continue the spanish theme, she asked me to make flan. i tried a new recipe involving two cans of condensed milk with equal cups of whole milk as well as lime zest. i didn't have enough eggs (just 3), but made do anyway. the condensed milk was thick, like a syrup, i could just imagine the flan to be mouth-numbingly sweet. i also melted the sugar with 3 tablespoons of water, which did a lot of bubbling but finally turned to caramel after a long burn. by the time julie showed up at 8pm, the flan was just about to go into the oven (350 degrees for an hour).

she started to slowly make the paella with two pages of computer printed instructions. we had some pomegranate, which is now my favorite fruit. i changed into an all-black ensemble before eating it though, i didn't want to get any of that red fruit juice staining my clothes. it tastes like cranberry, but not as tart, and the pulpy seeds are like corn kernels. paella calls for saffron, which i've seen before but never smelled or tasted. it's a very subtle spice, reminds me of the air inside of a brand new tupperware container, plasticky. the paella pan looks like an oversize frying pan. too flat to be a wok, too big to entirely fit on one burner. when you're not using it to cook, i think the paella pan can be used as a shield. paella also traditionally calls for seafood, but there was only chicken in tonight's version. julie had some problems with the artichokes, the recipe called for artichoke hearts, she cut out enough of the artichokes that we had maybe a few slices left - they're a difficult vegetable to work with!

julie didn't finish cooking until after 10pm. we had missed 24, but i had the foresight to record it on the vcr, which we watched at 10:30pm, the same time we finally started eating. after the late dinner, i brought out my flan, which earlier had been cooling outside in the freezing temperature. the flan looked different from my usual flan. out of the mold, it was much denser. as for the taste, it has a slight leaning towards custard rather than pudding, and the condensed milk puts it over the top in terms of sweetness. julie could only eat half. using condensed milk is okay, but not so much next time. the flan also has a lemony taste from the lime zest. feeling sleepy, julie left after midnight while i was taking out the trash. i waited outside in the freezing cold for her to pull up in her car and return my visitor's parking permit.