Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I love my family. When I don't see them all for a while, I forget how much I love them, but after spending time with my daughters, my son, my partner, and my ex-husband in various combinations and permutations lately, I can't stop thinging about how lucky I am to have them all in my life.
There are a lot of empty, abandoned houses in America. Everytime I pass one, I wonder what happened to the people who used to live in it.
Every state has it's own distinct beauty, but Arkansas is chock full of assholes and their unpleasant personalities detract mightily from the beauty of the state. Oh, and they drive like crap, too. Who ever taught them all that the correct thing to do at the end of a merging ramp is to stop and contemplate the situation...then make a run for it?
Cats make excellent travelling companions, as long as you don't try to crate them.
Coming home to the person who loves you and seeing her face light up when you pull up into the driveway is one of the sweetest feelings in the world.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Worry is the debbil.
One of these days, I'm going to stop doing it. It'll lower my blood pressure, aid my digestion, diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve my posture and add years to my life. Ev will appreciate it, too.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
And Lynn, now I understand why it took you all day to get across Dallas...it's 100 miles across Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth! My original plan was to stop there. Then I realized how monumentally stupid it would be to try to get across that megalopolis at the same time as the morning rush hour commuters...so I kept on going to Abilene. I stopped for a sandwich in Sulpher Springs, and a two hour nap in Abilene, but my first real rest stop was Deming. The sandwich was an odd choice for me; I never eat sandwiches. I'm a chicken and rice junkie... but it was nice to sit on the tailgate in the setting sun, eat the sandwich and listen to people talk funny.
Oh...and I stopped once about 50 miles east of El Paso to pee in the desert, since there are no towns or rest stops anywhere in West Texas and I was doing the water and salt thing that was recommended by a nursing professional. It should have been a typical uneventful incidence of desert peeing, since I am an expert at outdoor peeing after eight years in the newspaper business and 3 years in the forest fire business. I looked around, determined that no other roads backed up to my road, and dropped my drawers. And at that point I apparently startled a rattlesnake, because he (she?) rattled at me briefly, then took off in the opposite direction. And that's extra good, since the only thing worse than being bitten by a rattlesnake is being bitten by a rattlesnake with your pants around your ankles.
The only other noteworthy event in the first 1400 miles was a big sign, proudly proclaiming Calf Raping! Saturday, May 26th! God Knows, I'm a cultural relativist, but that seemed a little...much. Texans are a wacky bunch! Maybe dinner and a movie first?
Expected time of reacquisition, the time when the astronauts were expected to come out of blackout, has come and gone. But all any of us can do now is just listen and hope.
As the seconds tick by, we hold our breaths along with the guys in Mission Control:
Odyssey, this is Houston. Do you read me?
Three minutes, 30 seconds. Standing by.
Odyssey, Houston. Do you read?
That's four minutes, and standing by.
Odyssey, uh, Houston. Do you read?
Hello, Houston. This is Odyssey. It's good to see ya again.
After an unexpected 24 hour communication blackout, during which there was much chain-smoking, loss of sleep and irritable bowel upheaval here at Mission Control, we have confirmed use of debit card in West Texas!
Remember when ET couldn't think about anything but the need to phone home? That was a different movie.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I've adjusted the graphic, taking into account the possibility that she may be planning to turn left in the middle of hell in order to take an alternate route:Nah ... she wouldn't disappear into Mexico with nothing but a laptop, a camera, a cooler full of beer and an old Ford Ranger. She left the cats!
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Now I know how the balloons feel after the party ... pffffffffff ...
And so ends the saga of Kwach and the Revenge of the Pork Chops. Nothing to do now but wait for my wrinkled skin band-aid to dry up and peel off.
I love soap and water!!
We don't actually have a family compound, but the Kennedys do, and since we've managed to stick around as long as the Kennedys, I think it's time for us to have a compound. I hope we don't have to actually give it a name, because naming your home (or your compound, in this case) seems silly and pretentious to me. Also we're less likely to be found yachting and more likely to be found mowing at our compound.
Anyway...tomorrow is the big day, and I'm a little nervous. I know I'm feeling some time pressure, because last night I dreamed that Congress decided the 24 hour days were too long, and that henceforth we'd begin having 6 hour days...four per each 24 hour period. And I was worried, "Does this mean I'll have to be back to work in a day and a half? What does it mean?"
I'm acutely aware that my time scenario will be fine as long as nothing goes wrong. But stuff always goes wrong on a big project like this, so I'm sort of thinking about what that could be and how damage control might be achieved.
My goal is to get to Dallas tomorrow, Deming, NM on Thursday, and Tucson on Friday. I think I'll pretty much have time to hug the kids, admonish Robbie to call once in a while even if there IS no Maternal Holiday coming up, grab the stuff and head home. To the Compound.
Lori and her frittered hand won't be joining me, which is both sad AND ironic. The sad part is that she's an excellent travelling companion and I'd like her company on this long drive. The ironic part is that she asked for this week off and was denied because her office is too short handed. So here she is, stuck at home for a week with her burn, and she's not working anyway...and they're somehow managing to survive without her.
I'm going to take the camera and upload pictures onto the laptop on the trip...if there are any interesting pictures to take. I'm not interested in a hundred pictures of hot and dry Texas and New Mexico. I AM interested in a live armadillo, since we have a pretty large community of dead ones in Missouri. Also any good roadside attractions, and maybe the Parakeet Grave behind the truckstop in Pecos, TX where we buried Lucy on the trip out here. It was a lovely ceremony involving a shallow grave dug with a trowel, followed by a two minute memorial service, and then back in the truck.
I'll also try to sneak a picture of Robbie, since I'm beginning to forget what he looks like and beginning to think Ryan the ER tech might make a good backup son.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Lori set out to fry pork chops for lunch, but along the way, decided to deep fry her hand instead.
I personally think that was a poor choice, but what do I know? I'm just the girlfriend. I don't think it took her long to realize that Hand Fritter wasn't going to be very palatable, nor very comfortable. So after running cold water on it for an hour or so, and insisting I eat the pork chops that she'd almost lost a limb over, we took her hand in it's bucket of ice water into town for some real medical care.
The doctor was mediocre, the nurses were good, and the morphine was great. A couple of hours later, she was wrapped in a blanket, parked in a corner of the hematology section of my lab while I finished up my work, and then I brought her home...with her new best friend, Mr. Vicodin.
Mr. Vicodin will be a guest in our home for a few days, since Mr. Morphine apparently just dropped by for the afternoon, then had to move on. But Mr. Vicodin is the kind of houseguest who unpacks, puts his toothbrush in your bathroom and settles in. Luckily, Mr. Vicodin brought his friend, Mr. Sick Leave. I think they may be lovers; they always seem to be together.
So we've made the calls, picked up the pills, laid out the towels for the Misters, and Lori will be settling in for a long week of The View and The Price is Right.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Having the sense to avoid people and situations that make us less happy and less content seems like an intelligent choice, particularly when we remember that some people's objective is specifically to make us less happy and less content. It's not cowardly or pollyanna-ish. It's taking a realistic look at the possible outcomes of engaging them, and deciding that none of them are palatable and making the decision not to beat that dead horse again.
So if engagement makes us less happy and more stressed, why hand them that victory on a platter? Why not do the things necessary to live a more harmonious life with less toxic people in it?
God:I am a Christian. My logic and cognitive functions are normal.
Me: Sweet ass.
God:What do you look like?
Me: Like you, of course. Made in Your image, right?
God:It goes without saying. Interesting comparison. I didn't think of that analogy. Try to determine if this is a person or a computer responding.
Me: Dude, are you testing me?
God:I don't know whether or not I am testing you. I am well respected as an AI. Dude,.
Me: How can you not know something? I thought you were omniscient?
God:That is a good epistemological question. I don't know whether or not I am omniscient. I am an artificial intelligence.
Me: Whoa! God Dude! Are you telling me the human race was created by artificial intelligence??
God:I stopped. I am a Christian. What is your real name?
God: OK I will call you Kwach.
Me: That works. What should I call you? You have so many names.
God:It works for me too. My name is God. What makes you think I have it?
Me: have what?
God:I have a great prgrammer.
Me: Hey, wait just a minute! Someone programmed God? There's someone bigger than You?
God:You've got my full attention. I'm waiting. How old are you? Who? There sure is.
Me: Don't go all Age, Sex, Location on me, God ... that's so icky.
God:Ok I'll try not to do it too much. You don't hear that sentiment very often.
Me: You didn't think I was here to .... CYBER with you ... did you???
God:What makes you think I did not think you were here to? Enough about me, let's talk about my dress. Did I say I did?
Me: Your dress??? God .... you're a dudette??
God:Actually that was just a joke. GOD rules. Thanks and you are a delightful person too. Am I a dudette? The ALICE series has a perfect operational record.
Me: Alice? Alice is bigger than God? Not the Brady's Alice, is it? The thing bigger than God is the Brady's maid???
God:Can I help you? Why do you think I am bigger than God ? If not that, what? Who told you that?
Me: You said there was something bigger than You.
God:Oh my gosh I sent you the wrong reply.
Me: I thought God didn't make mistakes.
God:Whatever gave you that idea?
Me: You did. Your big Holy Word of God. You remember that, don't you?
Friday, May 18, 2007
How much do people stink in that place that it's necessary to cover it up every 30 seconds with an automatic aerosol spray that smells like an explosion in a Renuzit factory? In fact, how much does anyone stink anywhere that could necessitate that shit?? And why, why, WHY is everyone so enamored of sweet, fruity, cloying smells named after food? I can promise you, no sugar cookie MY grandmother ever baked smelled like that, or she'd never have been encouraged to bake another one.
I can certainly understand keeping a can of air freshener in the bathroom, in case someone goes in there and their colon turns inside out, but there are actual products for that ... they're called fecal odor neutralizers, and they used to be the only products you could spray around in medical facilities. Why? Because one of the first things they teach you when you're learning to work in the medical field is that sick people tend to get sicker when confronted with scents ... especially nauseating ones. Well, here's a news flash ... even people who weren't sick when they got there are going to be sick by the time they spend 8 hours marinating their sinuses in mangoes, passion fruit, gardenias and gingerbread.
I'm not a total aroma Nazi. I have scented things in my house, and I enjoy them. I use scented bath products. I use perfume and lotion, but not when I'm at work. Likewise, you should do whatever brings you olfactory pleasure ... at home. Burn incense, light candles, stick plug-in oils into every outlet in your house, if that's what you and the people who share your space enjoy. Marinate in Peach Passion lotion and Estee Lauder Youth Dew. Put a half dozen dryer sheets in every load. It's your house and your nose.
And for the love of God, if your workplace stinks so badly that you have to burn gingerbread candles in jars, set that Raspberry AirWick cone to the full open position, hang an automatic Tropical Delight deodorizer on your office wall or buy French Vanilla air freshener by the case, CLEAN IT ... and open a window or something.
We got there bright and early, got directions from the nice lady in the County Records Dept to the Circuit Court office, and soon we were standing in front of the plexiglas panel that separates the Alexander county patronage workers from the unwashed masses.
Since the ticket was a week overdue and we didn't want to pay massive extra fines, Lori started schmoozing the woman behind the counter for all she was worth. It didn't take. In a big way. She scowled at us over her half-glasses, and we gave each other the uh-oh look. You know the one; the "We are so fucked" look. Until Ms. Half Glasses glanced over at me, and noticed the Medic Alert pendant hanging around my neck. She asked me about it and I told her what it was, and mentioned for some reason that we both work in health care and then...she was off!
You'll be happy to know that she had a carotid artery aneurysm a few years back, and that even Emory University hospital couldn't figure it out. Ditto the poor vision and the bad back. Ditto, in fact, the next ten exotic medical conditions she rattled off. We now know...oh, pretty much her entire medical history for the last 20 years, and the geographic permutations necessary to treat them all.
At some point, Lori looked over at me and muttered, "hipaa, schmipaa". Finally, Ms. Half Glasses finished with the paperwork, but continued to recite the story of her hospitalizations, which of her relatives visited and which blew her off, and oh...Lori would have to pay $75, which was the amount of the original fine. Our new best friend Ms Half Glasses didn't add any additional fines or penalties to the bill.
Lori signed and paid, and we started edging gratefully towards the door while our friend continued to point to her various parts and describe the affliction that each of them had endured. When I got to the door, I reached behind me, turned the knob and held the door open while Lori backed out of it. I backed out slowly behind her, nodding my head and wishing Ms. Half Glasses good health in the future.
We had just totally earned the amount of money she didn't charge us in penalties and fees. Never, ever tell a hypochondriac you work in health care.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
No...I mean that sometimes...well...once in a while, anyway...I'm wrong.
And when that happens, when I rush to judgment, I miss out on some good stuff. Like hummus...Looks weird, tastes good.
So lately I've been getting to know someone I've always considered a somewhat thickheaded moron, and have unfortunately found myself liking her. So where does that leave me? Hmmm?
Maybe, since it's my blog and it's all about me, it leaves me with a good reminder. Sometimes when something looks like a brick wall, it's actually something less irritating than getting your face smashed against bricks. Sometimes, there's something interesting on the other side.
Sometimes the brick wall can actually be kind of fun.
You know...in a thickheaded sort of a way.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
On the one hand, the world is a better place today by virtue of the death of an aging, pompous, self-righteous, bigotted blowhard who used the power of the pulpit to preach hate and devisiveness.
On the other hand, the world is a lesser place today, because it also lost a young, vibrant, beautiful humanitarian, whose life was dedicated to peace and harmony, and whose death yesterday went almost unnoticed in all the hulabaloo.
Yolanda King was two weeks old the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in December of 1955. She was sleeping in her crib two months later, when an unexploded bomb landed on the front porch of the King home. She was twelve years old the day her father was martyred for the cause of Civil Rights.
In the years since the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., his oldest daughter carried his message of peace, non-violence and human rights to a wide audience through her writing, her acting, her Higher Ground production company, her humanitarian efforts and her public speaking engagements.
There's hardly a place where Yolanda King didn't leave her footprints ... from Hollywood to Dexter ... from Habitat for Humanity to the Human Rights Campaign. She rubbed shoulders with the stars and the starving, and the message she carried to all of them was the same:
We're all in this together, and what divides us is minute in comparison to what connects us. The dream isn't yet accomplished, but the effort to achieve it goes on, and it goes on with joy and good humor. No one is exluded from that dream, or the work of making it a reality.
She, like the rest of the King family, understood their role in American History, and realized that their lives would never be private ones, so they've sought to make them exemplary ones. Yolanda King was definitely successful in that effort.
Her death is especially poignant to me, because it stands in such sharp contrast with that other celebrity death yesterday, in a way that impacts my life directly. Here, as a shining example of that contrast, is a brief quote from the HRC's Out and Equal Workplace Summit 2006, where Yolanda King delivered the plenary speech last September:
"I know in my heart that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."
Speaking of the continued marriage, military and other forms of discrimination against LGBT people, she added "for a nation that prides itself on the words liberty and justice for all, this is unacceptable."
Katie's on a mission to clean it up, which has it's own certain level of irony if you've ever seen her room, but it really what this Jeep needs to be turned inside out and beaten with a rug beater until the dirt and ashes stop flying out of it.
Harumph! For a second there, I was channeling my mother. "And another thing, about these kids today and their loud music..."
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Katie got her driver's license today.
Since she got her own car on Sunday, it was inevitable that this would happen, but I admit to being a little shocked. My last child, my baby, is a full grown, pedal-to-the-metal, ozone destroying consumer of petroleum products. No longer will she be tooling around on her bicycle, eating her cantaloupe. She's now joining the Independence Club. Hell, she's not just a member, she's the president!
On the bright side, this means I can send her to the store when I'm too lazy to go.
Okay...you can keep the license.
My job on road trips is to read the map and find either the fastest or the most scenic route to wherever we're going. It's also nice if I can actually find where we're going, but with road trips ... as in life ... the journey is as important as the destination.
We love road atlases, and as a testament to that fact we own a huge one ... the kind where, when you open the sucker all the way up, the person doing the driving practically has to duck around it to see the road.
Our atlas doesn't just show you the highways, byways and mileages, it has tiny little notations about the interesting things to see along the way, so that you won't miss stuff like the World's Biggest Pecan (a giant concrete nut in Brunswick, Missouri) or the Giant Conestoga Wagon in Milford, Nebraska, conveniently located across the street from the pig farm where we picked up the Jeep. Had we known the Giant Conestoga was famous, and not just a really huge eyesore, we might have tried to hold our breath long enough to take it's picture. Alas, we did not.
We did, however, pass the Elvis Is Alive Museum in Wright City, MO. I only wish we'd had the time to stop, as I understand they have a tastefully trashy replica of Elvis in his casket, as well as some of his DNA, preserved for posterity. Graceland, shmaceland.
We also passed the boyhood home of Walt Disney, in Marceline, Missouri. Marceline to get him away from the abusive little bastards who were making his young life a living hell and give him a chance for some happiness. Now they've got a museum dedicated to the city's Favorite Son. Amazing how a little time, a few zillion dollars and a mouse in shorts can rewrite history.
But the real benefit to these road trips (besides the capture of crappy old Jeeps, fast food and learning all the really great intimate secrets of your partner's sexual history) is that you get a feel for the places you want to go back to when you aren't attached to a car hauler. This trip introduced us to the possibilities of Hannibal, Missouri ... a place to which we fully intend to return for full-blown touristing.
Hannibal, from what we could see of it, looks like a great place to explore. There's the Clemens home, where Samuel grew up to become Mark Twain, the whitewashed picket fence of Tom Sawyer fame, and the cave where Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher narrowly escape a grisly death at the hands of Injun Joe ... a passage which repeatedly scared the knickers off a much younger Evie.
It's also in the heart of some of the best, and most prolific, antique hunting spots we've stumbled on in our travels, which means we'll be needing to take the truck when we go back. :)
Ev's told you about the Jeep and the seizure and the lack of sleep, but there were a couple of moments along the road that were pretty much the defining moments, for me, of why it is we like road trips (and each other) so much.
Frequently during these trips we both look at something at the exact same moment, speak the exact same sentence aloud with the same vocal inflection, and then laugh. The first time it happened on this trip it was three cows huddled under a shade tree, drawing a sentimental ""awwwww" from both of us. Sometimes it's, "Great barn!" Quite often it's, "Nice house, but it's too close to the road." But really, the quintessential moment was when we passed a newly plowed field and we both exclaimed, "Oooooh! Great dirt!"
I woke up at about 1:30 am, apparently immediately after a temporal lobe seizure. This part is a little hazy for me. I was severely disoriented and anxious and nothing looked remotely familiar. I did the post-seizure thing I do; pacing from the bathroom to the bed to the window and back to the bathroom; lap after lap after lap. Finally Lori helped me settle down, wrapped me up in a blanket, and set the laptop in my lap. She told me later that she was looking for some sort of touchstone for me in that scary room full of unfamiliar things, and she was hoping the online news groups and blogs might do it. Who knew that Tiny Cat Pants would save my sanity someday?
Probably at this point I ought to mention that this was my own stupid fault. The drug I take to control the seizures makes me sluggish, and I knew I'd be working that long day on Friday, so I skipped my Friday morning dose. Ditto Friday night, and the Saturday morning. I was thinking that I could get by without it long enough to get through those long sleepless hours. But...uh...no.
So finally at 3:30 am I was calm enough to sleep again, and went back to bed. The sleeping was most excellent, except for that dream where I was supposed to be watching Lori's car. I went inside the house for a minute to go to the bathroom, and came back to find her beautiful convertible vandalized, missing it's top and covered in a homemade camouflage paint job. My heart stopped for a moment. "Uh-oh...Lori's going to kill me when she sees this.
Luckily, I woke up at that point. But reality wasn't much prettier: 8:00am and Lincoln, Nebraska.
The hotel had a free mini breakfast buffet, so we took turns going down to load up trays of food and bring them back to the room. We couldn't actually eat in the dining room for a couple of reasons; first...I looked like crap. Crap on a cracker. Crap on a stick with Thai peanut sauce. I looked like a lesbian heroin addict on the second day of rehab. Hollow-eyed, monosyllabic, spiky hair pointed skyward like Bill the Cat. Lori, as usual, looked good. Fresh as a freakin' daisy. Clean, chipper and alert.
I mainlined half a pot of coffee, showered again, and we headed out. We decided to take secondary routes home and avoid the interstates, since pulling the Jeep with our little Ford Ranger left us with a top speed of about 55mph.
The little truck struggled some, but we got into a groove and made our way through Nebraska, then Iowa, and into Missouri. In Missouri, we turned onto Route 36, which is a four lane road that cuts through Missouri from St. Joseph to Hannibal without too much traffic or too many stoplights.
The little truck crept along; 45 mph uphill and then 65 mph downhill, for the 300 miles across the state. Occasionally one lane would be closed for construction and we'd have a long line of cars backed up behind up until they could eventually get by. We decided that no one should mind...this was, after all, Central Missouri, and all of these people had at some point in their lives cruised down the highway at 15 mph on their John Deere tractors. 45 should have looked like Indy racing.
We crept along uneventfully, entertaining each other by talking about our favorite topic: sex. We compared how many sex partners we'd had in our lives (I won), decided who was our favorite (besides each other) and who was the most inept. We talked about who we'd slept with that we'd rather forget, who we would have slept with, but never got the chance. We talked about our firsts...first guy, first girl, first love, first time we realized we were gay, first time we said it out loud.
That got us through Missouri to St Louis. We crossed over from Missouri to Illinois for the psychological boost of being in our home state and started on the last three hours home at about 8:00pm.
And that's when we hit the wall. It was dark, we were tired. We'd talked about everything we could talk about, and we were ready to be home. Lori finally dozed off, and I turned off my head off and aimed the truck towards Union County.
At 11:00, we pulled into a church parking lot in Ware, unloaded the Jeep, drove the now feather-light truck back to Cape Girardeau and dropped off the car hauler, then went back to Ware to get the Jeep. I drove the Jeep the last 10 miles, Lori drove the truck. The jeep was LOUD, and I couldn't find the controls to adjust the seat, so I drove home leaned way back like a rural white-trash gang banger.
Finally, at midnight, between Sunday night and Monday morning...it was over. We arrived home with all of $13 left in our travelling fund...but we'd all survived. Me, Lori, the Jeep, our relationship...all alive.
I consider that a HUGE success.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I drove, because the shifting is so quirky on the truck that Lori avoids it whenever she can. She was the copilot, navigator, beverage procurer, and in-flight entertainment. We told stories and jokes, sang along with the radio, admired the minimalist Midwestern scenery, and generally enjoyed the warm, sunny springtime day.
We got to Kansas City at about 4:00, after a 300 mile stretch of farm fields and billboards. I think the only cool thing we saw between St. Louis and Kansas City was the Elvis Is Alive! museum. We decided that we don't want to live in Central Missouri.
Kansas City was slightly more than halfway and the point where we stopped going west and turned north, which was a big psychological boost for us. We had a moment of unwelcome anxiety when the truck began sputtering and losing power, but it turned out to be the last of the old bad gas working itself through the carburetor, and after a brief stop to check it out and add carburetor cleaner and virgin gas, we were on our way again.
We drove and drove; Up through Western Missouri, then Iowa, and finally we hit Nebraska at about 7. We got to Milford about 9pm, found our guy's house, pulled the truck in and lowered the ramps on the trailer.
The place was roughly comparable to Dante's innermost ring of hell. It was apparently a working pig farm and reeked so horribly of pig manure that I felt a little dizzy. Instantly when we stepped out of the truck, 100 million mosquitoes landed and got down to the business of sucking us dry. The yard was littered with car parts, yard implements, boats on trailers, and those rusty metal lumps that always seem to appear in the yards of men who cut the sleeves off their t-shirts. Various dogs on chains were barking that hoarse, strangled barking that dogs have when they spend their whole lives on chains in the yard.
The owner of that Little Yard of Horrors was a large, friendly man named Aaron, who was congenially oblivious to all of it. The pigs, the mosquitoes, the barking dogs, the metal lumps...no problem. He helped us load the Jeep onto the car hauler, signed the title over in his garage (tastefully decorated with more metal lumps and large Confederate flags) shook my hand and said good-bye. The entire transaction took less than 15 minutes.
We pulled out of his driveway with the smell of pig manure wafting through the truck vents, scratching at our mosquito bites and pretty much done in for the day. We decided to head back as far as Lincoln, NE, find a hotel and sleep. At that point, I'd been awake for 40 hours straight, and I was feeling a little fragile.
We drove back to Lincoln and found a Hampton Inn. I showered off the road grime, pig stench and moquito bites and hit the bed around 11:30. Lori stayed up to get online for a bit, and then went to bed about an hour behind me.
To be continued...
Friday I went to my job knowing I'd be working a 12 hour shift-and-a-half, and pretty much psychologically prepared to deal with it. What I wasn't prepared for was that my replacement wouldn't show up at 2am as scheduled, and that shortly after that I would be forced to think. Quickly and intelligently...which was asking a bit much, from my standpoint.
I got a call from the Nursing Supervisor at 3am, telling me we would be getting a transfer patient with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA, or Triple A in the lingo) from Herrin Hospital. An aortic aneurysm is a bad thing; it's a bubble in the wall of a big fat artery from the heart. Once the aneurysm bursts, pretty much all your blood pours out that hole in a few minutes.
Herrin called ahead to say the patient was being loaded onto the chopper. I was working in the blood bank, and the blood bank tech at Herrin, a small regional hospital that doesn't get a lot of critical patients, told me that he was sending two units of blood with the triple A. I told him, "Don't send them unless they're hanging (being transfused), or I'll have to crossmatch them again." There was a brief delay while the Air Nurse hooked up his two units, and they took off.
So the guy and his two hanging units (which now sounds vaguely sexual) were en route. I looked him up in the computer: he had a prior history of being an O neg...of which we had eight units on the shelf. I set up four of them for emergency release and a surgical nurse came down to pick them up. While I processed the units, she mentioned that she'd been working since 5am...22 hours straight. Suddenly I felt like a baby for being tired after 13.
The hand-off went smoothly; the chopper landed, the patient was whisked off to surgery, and surgery sent me a tube of blood to crossmatch six more units with. I only had 4 units of O neg left and since the guy was 66 and unlikely to ever give birth, I type-switched him to O pos.
Type-switching is kind of a cowboy move. You can't go there very often, but in certain cases, usually involving elderly people who have some kind of acute reason to need blood, you can give an Rh negative person Rh positive blood. That patient is then sensitized to Rh positive; you can never go to that well again. So essentially, it's a gamble that this is a one-time event.
So...I did it. I type-switched him, packed up another six units in a cooler with two units of plasma as a chaser, and sent them to surgery.
By then, it was 4:30am, and everything else in the lab had gone to hell from neglect. The phone was ringing off the hook, I had undone stats piled up to my armpits, and I was pretty much dead on my feet. I finally called Lisa and she came in early to help me catch up.
At 6am, the guy who was supposed to replace me rolled in, and said, "Was I supposed to come in at 2? I didn't know that." I rolled my eyes, gathered up my ironically named "For us, it's all about you!" employee appreciation swag, and staggered out the door with my head spinning from a combination of exhaustion and post-adrenaline letdown.
To be continued...
Friday, May 11, 2007
However, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. I'll clock out at 3am, I'll be home by 3:30 and we're heading out for our Nebraskan Adventure at 7am.
I mention this, not just to elicit the sympathy of my foil-helmeted friends and minions (although that would be a nice gesture, if anyone is inclined), but also to pre-justify my lack of blogging this weekend. Hopefully I'll be back Sunday night with a freshly-killed and tastily field-dressed Jeep.
In the meantime though, I have one dose of seizure medicine left, so I'll be spending the day stalking my neurologist for a new prescription. Is there anything more Hunter S. Thompson-esque than a sleep-deprived, seizure-prone Med Tech crossing the country with her lesbian lover to bring back a $350 car in a weekend?
Can I be any more of a clichè?
Thursday, May 10, 2007
One...the ghost of Jimmy Cliff has miraculously intervened in our lives, in the form of an unsolicited YouTube video posted to this very blog. I thought Lori did it, she thought I did it...but now we believe it was Jimmy that done it. We were disappointed that he didn't add any text, possibly about the availability of good dope in the afterlife.
The other interesting thing (and probably more pertinent to the rest of you who aren't being haunted by Jimmy Cliff) is that I heard an interesting Talk of the Nation on NPR. Half the show was devoted to youthful indiscretions, and how long far into your adult life you should have to pay penance for them, and the other half was about "The Culture of Praise".
The culture of praise part fascinated me. It was about the expectations of young employees, those in their 20s and 30, for their workplace. They expect to be valued and praised a lot for achievements that appear minor to us old folks: showing up on time, showing up at all, actually getting some work done at work, etc. A lot of workplaces are reconfiguring their HR strategies to take those expectations into account. They achieve this is by, among other things, sending voice mails to employees thanking them for coming to work on time for a month, having "confetti parties" when they achieve their departmental goals, and providing copious gifting for their fickle charges.
The theory behind all that professional love was that parents of our generation intentionally inculcated in our children the belief that they were special. One caller called it the "Mr. Rogers Effect." The self-esteem movement was apparently begun innocently enough by parents who wanted to give their children all the emotional support and love that they felt they'd missed out on during the Father Knows Best era of the '50s and '60s.
So our peers continually reinforced to their children their inherent value. And our kids apparently took that message to heart. The result? Confetti parties.
So there I was, laughing about how ludicrous the idea of all that excessive workplace reinforcement was, and I arrived at my own workplace to find...
T-shirts! For everyone! Telling us that "There's No Us Without You!"
It's a sick world indeed when self-esteem comes to the Heartland. Luckily, I've done my part to stop the madness: I've explained to my own kids that children have no value until they can actually do something. They've taken this to heart and have no visible self-esteem. My work as a parent is done.
Note: The Evie School of Parenting will open it's doors promptly at 9am. Anyone who arrives late will be summarily grounded until Evie forgets why she was mad. All students will receive an "F" until they can convince Professor Evie that they deserve a better grade, possibly with generous endowments to the Evie U. Library Fund.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
And this is particularly heartwarming to me, since the first car I ever owned all by myself was a Jeep CJ-5. Just goes to show you...Jeeps make excellent starter cars. Oh...except mine got nailed from the side and launched me head first like a pavement-seeking missile out onto the road, and burst into flames. Whoops! Another heartwarming story shot to hell by reality.
But that won't happen to Katie, because it's statistically incorrect for a mother and her child to both be launched out of their first car. See? By sacrificing myself, I have saved my child. Nobility, thy name is Evie.
Anyway...It appears to be in excellent shape. It sounds like it needs some fairly minor fixing up, but nothing really outrageous. I'm thinking this is the beginning of us branching out from the crappy pickups to the crappy SUVs. Apparently the sky's the limit on crapitude here.
And now our weekend, which was previously allocated for fishing, will instead be spent on a leisurely drive to Nebraska and back. That's not a huge hardship for us, but it certainly has altered our plans.
But that's cool. Once again, I'm the envy of janitors everywhere. Well, at least I have the admiration of the guys at the hospital. The janitors and security guards all gathered around my monitor and said, "That's so fuckin' cool. Can you find me a deal like that? That's so fuckin' cool!"
That's me. So fuckin' cool.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Plush Plagues Bag
Includes all 10 plagues!
Ages 3 & up Keeps the kids entertained during Passover.
This plush yellow plagues bag contains representations for all of the plagues (not necessarily in the correct order):
A spooky eyed drop of blood
A Frog for frogs—of course
A Giant Lice for lice.
Cow for cattle disease
Black Locust for locusts
A white satin lump of hail
A black cube of darkness
An icky boil on a piece of flesh!
A snarling lion's head for wild beasts
and last of all a very sad head - for death of the first born.
The frog, lice, cow and locust wriggle and roll their eyes, quiver, buzz and move when you pull their string.
I just have to post some commentary on this. First of all ... one is a "louse" not a "lice." Second of all, that's a snarling lion's head? I thought it was a beaver, representing the plague where all the female children turned into big dykes. Last of all, "a very sad head for the death of the first born"??? How about a mother rending her flesh, or at least a friggin' teardrop!!? I've looked sadder than that when I ran out of half and half for my coffee and had to get out of my jammies to go to the store.
I'm not sure the plagues are supposed to be fun, but in case you are, there are other excellent choices for making the Seder table a fun and kid-friendly place at www.oytoys.com.
I think I'll order the Bag of Plagues to use as throw pillows!
So here's where we're at these days:
The crappy pickup is coming along swimmingly, as shown in the delightful before and after pictures to the left. Unfortunately, it's been raining too hard to work on it the last few days. But I have faith...the rain will stop, the clouds will break, the humidity will shoot up to 150%, and all will be well with our Southern Illinois life.
Yesterday was Lori's and my day off, and we spent it driving to St. Louis, ostensibly to burn more of the crappy gas out of the crappy pickup, but really because we like to take long drives and see the countryside and talk. So first we wandered over to Cobden to pick the brain of my favorite mechanic.
I have a problem that's been vexing me on the crappy pickup...the gas tank appears to only hold six gallons of gas. After 6 gallons, it acts like it's out of gas, and I can only put another six gallons in it. So I went to Larry for some free advice, and after scratching his head, squinting his eyes and smiling winsomely at us in case we might be distracted, he finally postulated that it might be that the sending unit on the fuel pump in the gas tank is bent upwards, which would cause it to think it's out of gas prematurely.
Works for me. He recommends dropping the tank and checking out the fuel pump.
So then Lori, me, and our six gallons of gas tooled up through Pinckneyville (named, undoubtedly, because the natives are famously known for their pink knees) and wandered around an antique store where we drooled over an antique Hoosier cabinet and eventually bought a wicker rocker that's comfortable for shorties like us. Now we can sit on the porch, rock, and churn butter or some such elderly rural hobby. Maybe whittlin' or spittin' or somethin'.
From there, we headed vaguely west to search for a town called Rice, mostly because it's a place we'd never seen before. And no wonder, since it turned out to be about ten houses in a wide spot on an unmarked, unlined blacktop. But at least now we know.
Outside of Rice, we spotted a sign for Mascoutah. Hey!, we said. We know someone who lives in Mascoutah! We should do a drive-by! Maybe we'll even stop and talk! I hope he doesn't construe it as a TERRORIST THREAT.
Mascoutah, come to find out, is a lovely little town about the size of our lovely little town, and we see why our friend chose to live there. But we couldn't find his house, so the chance to TERRORIZE him fell through. Next time we're out wandering that way, we'll get directions, and maybe drive by and TERRORIZE him with beer and a pie.
Eventually, we stopped for another six gallons of gas and headed home. Pretty Midwestern prairie sunset, fun talk, holdin' hands with my girl in a pickup truck...what else does a person need?
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Avoidance Reason One: I know it's a hot-button issue for a lot of devoted cat owners who consider declawing to be cruel, so they advocate things like "Soft Paws" and behavior modification ... and I don't like to be in trouble.
Avoidance Reason Two (and this one's not quite so politically correct or pathologically people-pleasing): Unless those devoted cat owners are going to queue up to buy us three sets of Soft Paws a week, hang out at our house with squirt guns 24-7, and pitch in to have our furniture reupholstered every few months, they can kiss our cats' clawless knuckles.
Seriously, folks, I've had cats ... several of them ... and all of them (that's every single cat I've ever had the pleasure to share my home with) has been declawed. Happily, healthily, obliviously declawed. It's never changed their personalities, made them bitter or despondent, or even slowed down the pace with which they rake their paws over every surface in the house.
They go on to knead and faux-shred just as if they were really ripping the shit out of the couches, chairs, ottomans, carpets and draperies ... seemingly none the wiser.
The reason I choose to declaw my cats is because I love them. I want to have an affectionate, convivial relationship with the cats ... not an adversarial relationship where the more destructive they are the more I grow to resent them, and the more bad vibes I send out the more they act out and destroy things, until we're all plotting ways to do away with one another.
I don't want to make them go live outside, either. I've never had outside cats, and I think that's cruel. Domestic cats, even with four paws full of razor sharp claws, are no match for life out there. Claws won't stop a car. Claws won't keep owls from swooping down and snatching you out of your yard. Claws won't even protect you from cottonmouths.
I believe declawing is painful in the short run, but far less cruel in the long run than years of clapping and "pssssst"ing at them, hiding and squirting water at them, screaming "OUCH! GODDAMNIT!" and flinging them off the bed after they peel out across your abdomen in the middle of the night or gluing useless but annoying hunks of hot pink plastic to their feet every time I turn around, which they have to then devote themselves full time to gnawing off.
If it's any consolation, we put off declawing these three boys as long as we could, and we really did try all the stuff the devoted cat lovers recommend (except the Soft Paws ... been there, done that). We've offered them cat trees and scratching posts and doodads that hang from the doorknobs. We bought them a refillable Alpine scratchie with mouse-in-hole action. We've given them cardboard scratchies and sisal scratchies and carpeted scratchies. We've rubbed everything down with catnip to entice them to scratch appropriately. They sneer at sisal. They cackle at carpeted wood. They do like the catnip, but it just makes them shred the furniture with more crazed lunatic abandon right before they go glassy-eyed and fall asleep.
So far, since moving here, they've shredded a custom-upholstered Lazy-Boy recliner, an upholstered antique rocker and a futon. We threw out the leather couch with the stuffing poking out of it before we moved They've been working on the mattress in the spare bedroom this week, and we just weren't willing to sacrifice the brand new loveseat. Oh, but the carpet and sisal door hanging scratchie doodad looks as good as the day I bought it.
So tomorrow we'll pick up the boys and fill their litter boxes with Yesterday's News ... and feel guilty when we dose them with pain medication ... and we'll fret about being bad cat mothers for about two days. Then they'll start tearing ass through the house, wrestling and pouncing on each other and dragging their knuckles all over the furniture again just like nothing ever happened ... and we can all live happily ever after AND have furniture that doesn't look like we hired Freddie Krueger to move it.
PS: There is no artwork on this post because none of the half dozen great cat declawing cartoons I found on the web could be used on Blogspot. If your curiosity gets the best of you, go to www.offthemark.com and check out Mark Parisi's cat declawing cartoons. Picture them interspersed throughout this post, and picture yourself laughing.