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Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.
“Your heart beats 56 times per minute,” my neurologist said. We sat in her office in the 2900 block of K Street NW. She held my wrist and stared at my wrist. Then she stared at the clock. Then she stared back at my wrist again. “Now you are down to 48 b.p.m.,” she said.
“What of these beats?” I queried. “I have a human heart, and it beats on its own terms.”
“The 48 beats your heart beats per minute are too few beats!” my neurologist exclaimed. “With this heart rate, you are dangerously close to fainting.”
“Strange—-I do not feel faint,” I parried. “I understand that persons who lived in 19th century Elizabethan England often fainted from shock, terror, and/or moral outrage. In my experience, fainting is restricted to the fictional characters of Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”
“No,” my neurologist insisted. “Fainting has entered the Internet age. You can avoid fainting by increasing your heart’s b.p.m. I recommend eating more salt.”
“But salt has been maligned by nutritional sages for decades!” I countered.
“True,” my neurologist admitted. “However, in your case, I recommend the consumption of more salt, specifically processed food. Salt, a common compound often referred to as NaCl, increases cardiovascular activity. I would say that you should eat at least one salty, microwavable meal per day.”
“You mean—-Lean Cuisine?” I had never spoken the words ‘Lean Cuisine’ aloud before.
“Lean Cuisine will do,” my neurologist conceded.
“Lean Cuisine,” I repeated. I stared out of the window to snatch a moment of private contemplation. I looked down at the 2900 block of K Street NW. Unnamed contractors had erected scaffolding against the façades of many office buildings on this block, including the one that my neurologist called home.
“Your 2900 block of K Street NW is undergoing massive construction,” I commented. “I welcome this construction, whatever its nature, and hope that it will, in some fundamental way, change the architectural ‘vibe’ of your block. I have always found the 2900 block of K Street quite antiseptic—-an ‘office-y’ no-man’s land connecting cosmopolitan Dupont Circle and colonial Foggy Bottom. Put simply: the 2900 block of K Street NW has no character! Though you have been my neurologist for six years, and I am satisfied with our doctor-patient rapport, I feel that your block’s architecture undermines your friendly deportment and cultivated bedside manner. You are a fine physician and, in our semi-annual appointments, you do nothing to alienate me. However, the vacant aesthetics of the 2900 block of K Street NW alienate me anyway. Your architecture does not serve you!”
My neurologist removed her stethoscope from her ear. “What?” she asked.