Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


It's supposed to be hard to startle New Yorkers, but I just did it yesterday. I coughed so loudly, so epically, so painfully, that people nearby on the sidewalk looked at me with concern. For those of you who know me, the Beastly Cough is back. For those new to my life, every year I get the same hideous cough, and it generally lasts about two weeks. It's a magnificent cough, as coughs go: never just the one cough but a huge production that makes me reach far back into my throat--like a pitcher winding up--and then let loose with a set of spasmodic retches that unnerves everyone around me. I've had this ever since grade school, and my teachers and bosses have always said, "You should go home." And I've always had to reply, "I'd love to, but this thing lasts two weeks and I can't afford to stay home that long."

So I'm going to work and coughing, and in the meantime I'm doing the same farcical routine I always do: trying to stop it with medicine. For some reason, every time I get a cough (and I think I inherited my father's treacherous windpipe), the doctor says, "Get some Robitussin cough." (It happened again yesterday.) And every time I do, it doesn't do any fucking good. Every year I hope that maybe this time that half-shot of sweetness will avail me somehow, and every year I cough as much as ever, as loud as ever, as painfully as ever. It's like spraying NeoSporin on the Grand Canyon. Sinutab avails nothing. Actifed is pointless. Sudafed probably resents me: I feel like I'm just tossing the pills down my throat to an existentially meaningless death. Nothing that is alleged to deal with congestion of any sort actually helps me breathe.

With one exception: Benadryl. Benadryl comes in and says, "Okay, you sons of bitches! I'm taking all your moisture now!" I feel like I go from being 70% water to someplace in the low 60s. I get sleepy and it feels like my muscles are overworked, but at least I can breathe easier. But even on Benadryl, I still cough. I just don't sniffle when I'm not coughing.

Anyway, it's been like this for a week, and that's why I haven't posted much. There is potential good news on the horizon, though: my doctor, on top of that silly Robitussin idea, also handed me seven pills that, in his words, "Probably cost half your rent." I take one a day and it's supposed to terminate microbes with extreme prejudice. "But as long as you're taking it," he said, "Please don't drink." It's that hard on the stomach, apparently. (If anyone cares, it's called Avelox.)

So I took my first dose yesterday. I think it's still finding its way around, learning the street names, doing Internet research and so on. But I expect it to bivouac soon, and then maybe--just this once--we'll see real progress. I have every reason to be dubious. But I have to say, handing someone a pill the size of a medium cockroach and saying, "For God's sake don't drink!"...well, that's one hell of a placebo for you.

In the meantime, I'm rejecting all invitations to operas, movie-houses, and the odd quilting bee. I'll just stay here in my garret, curled into a fetal position, and wait for the microbial drubbing to pass. Oy.



Blogger Brian Reeves said...

There's a pretty good over-the-counter medicine called Delsym. Weird name, but it works like a charm to get rid of coughs. Maybe even yours. I remember that cough. Sometimes I thought I was going to have to drive you to the hospital! Hope you get better soon.


12/19/2007 7:30 PM  

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