Well, it's routine now; start feeling pretty good about nine days after treatment, with a steady trajectory up, up, up- that is, until the Monday before treatment, when I start thinking about sitting there in the as-comfortable-as-they-could-make-it infusion room, planting myself in the not-bad-for-industrial-grade recliner, and being poisoned for three hours. Then I feel good for a few days, until the chemo kicks in. It's pretty boring now, really, so I won't describe the little ups and downs. I will tell you this, though: my palate is fucked.

Just like it's the little differences that distinguish a U.S. McDonald's from a European one, same with what makes this treatment maddening.The bigger things? No big deal. No hair? No problem. So I had to buy a 7-day pill caddy to manage my many daily medications- so what? These are pretty big lifestyle changes that are just normal now, so they seem pretty small. But the little things are big now, and the biggest little thing is that my palate is fucked.

But it's not the same every day- it is different every day, so it is unpredictable. Most notably, everything has been turned down, and tasting food or drink is like listening to headphones with a wool cap pulled over my ears. And strangely, bland is what sounds good during this time. Turkey sandwiches with American cheese are key. Mass-produced soups. Chipotle burritos, stripped of their most flavorful elements- basically, the burritos I would have ordered as a 13 year-old. These are the things that are keeping me going right now, which is a bummer, because some of the healthiest things are stomach-turning. Greens. Garlic. Most cooked vegetables. Things I would normally love, and things that I know would be good for me, are repellent.

So when the sound is turned down and I am not really hungry I just kind of go with it and appease my prudish palate with yawn-worthy foods. But then, as the chemo wears off a bit more and my appetite comes back to life, I want the flavor cranked to 11, even though it will only taste like a 7 to me. Last weekend a restaurateur neighbor invited me to one of his places for dinner, which coincided with a surge in my appetite- I gladly accepted, and looked forward to it all day. French onion soup. Cool, crispy salad with a tangy vinaigrette. And a bone-in ribeye the size of a catcher's mitt. This was flavor country, and it was great- but for me, it was more like watching a 3-D IMAX Smell-O-vision movie about flavor country; it was as close to the real thing as humanly and technologically possible, but I still knew that my tablemates were tasting a little extra element that I was missing out on. Their gruyere was a little earthier, their onions a little sweeter, and their beef a little beefier than mine. Someday again, I thought, I will taste like they taste. And I will not take it for granted.

And the wine: Flowers pinot noir at this dinner- a wine I would normally be excited about. A wine I was excited about, especially since I actually desired to have a glass of wine for the first time in months. It smelled glorious, but right now my mouth is where glorious flavors go to die. It was the first time since a loud and drunken twenty-two year old Pete Holland swilled Opus One with his friend's wealthy (and generous and tolerant) father that I would say a wine was "wasted" on me.

So I have abstained- though I am very appreciative of the lakes of wine that have been sent our way since my diagnosis. They are stacking up, sadly, but not going to waste; they'll just have to wait a while until I can give them my full attention.

Luckily, pizza has been there for me. Always has, and presumably always will. I stayed away from it after the first treatment, having been advised to steer clear of favorite foods around treatment time, as a bout with nausea can trigger a lifelong aversion. One night though, a few weeks into treatment, I was debating what to make for dinner when I realized that I wanted a pizza. I needed a pizza. And I leaned on Domino's, who has been there for me since they opened the now-defunct location at Loyola Corners in Los Altos in the late 80s. I ordered online; absent the defining phone call, it felt like the pie just magically showed up at our door. I also magically made it disappear faster than a pack of ravenous weasels. The experience was so positive, so gratifying, that I made the same order two days later for lunch. Equally satisfying.

I've been out of the pizza-industrial complex, I realized as I navigated the website (not totally out- I just am one of those snobs who always patronizes the little neighborhood pizza place). Did you know you can "track" your pizza on the Domino's site, from prep to oven to delivery? Or send the staff a message, like "Keep up the good work" or "You're my pizza hero-" seriously. Also, you can save your favorite pie, which makes the ordering process disturbingly frictionless- it's the web-based pizza equivalent of the bartender pouring you your "usual" when she sees you walk in, so it's sitting there in front of you when you belly up. It's not a good thing; just like a gambler could benefit from the moment of pause that another trip to the ATM provides, some of us need the cumbersome topping- and crust-selecting rigamarole to give our minds the time to decide that hey, maybe we could just make a sandwich here. It might save us $12 plus tip, as well as several points of LDL. That said, you can bet that dominos.com is quite aware of my home address, debit card number, and my much loved large Brooklyn-style crust with ham.

One other observation, relating to food. Size inflation is real, and we have all known that for years. Today's small soda is yesteryear's large- this has been repeated ad nauseum in the media. And it's a chicken/egg issue; are we so disgustingly fat because the portion sizes have increased so much, or do we demand larger portions to satisfy our disgustingly outsized cravings? Who knows. But nowhere is this inflation so glaring as at the local multiplex, where a small soda is now, no shit, the size of an original Big Gulp. Really. And they call it a small, apparently unaware that words mean things- specific things. I suggested that they change the name to "smallest," which would at least be technically true, given the tubbiness of their other offerings. Only in some kind of reverse Lilliput could the "small" actually be considered to be small. This is probably not news to anyone- I go to the movies a decent amount, but I guess I have been avoiding the concession stand for the last ten years or so, preferring instead to smuggle in half-bottles of red wine. I now see the error of my ways; although their grip on size-related terminology has loosened considerably, the movie concession stand remains a stronghold of all things cold, salty, "buttery," and delicious.

So fries are being Supersized and sodas are getting oceanic, but one industry is going against that trend: the pizza business, strangely. It's true. A large pizza at Domino's is much smaller than it used to be- I know because back in the day I would not have ordered a large for myself. And if I did, there would surely be a few slices to eat the next day, or later that night. But now I can get a "large" and dispatch it all by myself, easily. The large is 14", according to the website, and I don't like to get technical when it comes to pizza sizes- like Potter Stewart, I know a large pizza when I see one. Shouldn't a large pie be not too much smaller than a trash can lid? Shouldn't it, when delivered to a table, dwarf everything around it? Shouldn't a large pie be a little too much for any normal eater to take down? In my opinion, yes. So I am not suggesting that we need to regulate portion-size terminology like we regulate "organic" and "too hot for tv;" but I want my small sodas to be manageable and I want my large pizzas hanging off the table. Is that too much to ask?