Monday, May 22, 2006

Crazy Hospital Maze

I felt like a character in an updated One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest today.

First of all, it was an odd situation. Yet another cousin I have never met is in the hospital with a life threatening condition. This time, I promised to go visit her in the hospital, so I couldn't wiggle out of it in my mind. But it is odd to meet someone for the first time in the hospital no matter how you look at it.

So, off I go on a cloudy, rainy day to a not-so-great part of town. Instead of really getting directions, I looked briefly at the mapquest a few days ago and decided to feel my way there today. Luckily there were blue H signs with arrows; sadly, they must have forgotten the last one. After a few rounds, I finally asked and someone knew which street was the one I needed.

I arrived as the police were talking to someone right outside of the hospital. I am glad that I didn't see at the time that the police officer was standing in front of a bullet riddled car. It was much better to see it after I was safely in my car on my way out of there.

The spookiest part was being inside the actual hospital. You get off the elevator from the parking garage on the fifth out of seven floors, already weird. There are some paper signs pointing you towards a totally unmarked entrance to the hospital/clinic/outpatient services. You figure, it must be the right place because there are no other doors. Once inside, it is stone silent. There are no people there. The map on the wall, listed in four languages, doesn't make any sense to me.

Where are the patients??

Where are the nurses? Anyone?

I toured the clinic before I realized that this was not the right wing. SPOOKY... ok, no people, just hallways with ominous signs warning you to cover your mouth if you cough and funky stains on the floor. This looks like the kind of clinic where you come out sicker than when you started.

I had been told seventh floor, and the end of the room number had an A. So, I try once again with the map and directory to make some sense of this. There is the big H building and then the V building and across the walkway a bunch of other wings, A-E. The big H building says it is ACUTE CARE. I reason this must be the emergency ward and the clinic. I decide I need the walkway and those other wings, especially the one labeled A.

Still, I have seen NO PEOPLE. I am in this place completely alone, it would appear. I thought I heard some people getting on or off the elevator when I was wandering around the clinic, but when I got to the elevator there was no one there. I decide to embark on my quest for A WING fearful that I will never be able to find my way back, but determined to get to the room before visiting hours are over.

Off the elevator, I follow the signs to the walkway. As I approach the door to the walkway, it opens on its own. CREEPY!! YIKES. I really wanted to go back right then, but that seemed so spineless, So I soldiered on. Now I am in the OLD WING of the hospital. It looks like a really old time psychiatric facility. OK... how the hell would I know? Actually, my aunt worked at the state hospital for a long time, and it looks like that. I find the A wing, and the door is locked. Now I am really freaked out... what the hell. The elevator outside the A WING is one of those caged elevator that looks like it will eat you alive. I peak into it, problem, only four floors. I am supposed to be looking for seventh floor. Note: I STILL HAVE SEEN NO PEOPLE.

Looking back at the other building, I realize that it definitely has seven floors or more and I should head back there. Not to mention that it is closer to the parking structure. Once back in the elevator area, I try the guide in this area. Finally, there it is PATIENT ROOMS, 7TH FLOOR. I call the elevator and decide this is a really good sign. Still no people. The seventh floor door opens to a regular hospital ward.

Big sigh of relief. I don't know why I was so spooked, but I really was. On the way out, I was completely disoriented and wondering how I would get back to the Aliceinwonderland-like door that would lead me back to my cute little car, but, luckily for me, the spooky fairy had decided to go away. Here there was a nurse just getting to work who saw my wide-eyed lost look, and pointed me in the back direction. So, I guess I was mentally prepared when I saw the bullet riddled car; hardly fazed me.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stopping the Tolling of the Bells

It turns out it was easier, or at least not as difficult, as I thought it would be to turn off the ringing in my ears.

A short missive, and silence.

I am trying to feel brave, strong and proud; but sometimes the sadness overwhelms me.

I hope this will be the last mourning of the ringing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Eclectic news round-up

These are the articles that caught my eye this morning, so I thought I would share my peculiar world view...

I caught a brief mention of the tattooed woman found in Peru yesterday (I am not sure if on NPR or in a headline on the AP wire), but I wasn't interested enough to read more about her. Tattoos don't really catch my attention. But, the NYTimes reports she is a WARRIOR WOMAN. Not sure what it means that warrior woman makes me want to read more, I will leave that to your imagination.

I have to admit that serious skepticism and cynicism were the more compelling reason than pure interest that led me open this article. I mean, the FBI investigating the NY Police Department? What next, they are going to go investigate the LA Sheriff Dept of the 1960's or 1970's? Maybe they will lend a hand to the Mexican government as they try to figure out how to tell people what really happened at Tlalteloco? In any case, I guess it means something that the FBI, albeit two years later, is trying to figure out if the NY Police Dept violated the civil rights of protesters.

Lest I be lulled into believing stereotypes associated with the South, little sparks of truth, justice and the American Way (?) keep poking through ... for instance, this little gem about the first successful challenge to the many state amendments against gay marriage. Ok, I am not saying that this article in any way makes me feel like folks in the South have suddenly become open-minded. It just gives me hope that their own rules will bring them down to earth in the end.

Let's be clear, I am not a Maureen O'Dowd devotee. I hardly ever read her column, actually, even though I am a NY Times Select member, so I could read it at any moment. Today's column was, indeed, a must read. There is just no turning away from a title like this: From McBeal to McDreamy. And it did not disappoint, though there were no pictures of said McDreamy. If you want to read the text and you are not a NY Times Select member, send me a note, and I will send you the text.

Finally, I don't have any real reason to be interested in this story, except that the coverage of this guy has been so complete, that I am now compelled to know more. Again, a catchy title that makes me think twice about whom they must be talking reeled me in. I am so weak when it comes to these things.

It would appear that I read no REAL news today. On the other hand, it should serve as a reminder to all you newspaper haters (read: all those overheard comments: "there is only bad news in the newspaper") that there are frequently all kinds of no-news-almost-tabloid stories in the newspapers to keep you entertained as well as informed. Happy Wednesday and Happy Reading.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Basket of Fates

This title/story requires some background information, so bear with me if it is a longish post with not that much to redeem itself.

Growing up, a fan of mythology, I read a little too much and then used some of what I read to form my worldview. At least it served as a way to illustrate my worldview. For reasons that have only become truly apparent in the past few years, I believed that the three fates had it in for me. It seemed that they always knew exactly what I wanted and had made it their job to keep me from having it.

In my mind, there they always were, in a little basket above my head. Peeking down at my life, listening carefully to every muttered wish, and crushing all my dreams whenever possible. I know... I know... I can picture all of you taking our your tiny little violin to play me a pity song. But, however self-absorbed, silly or just plain crazy that sounds, that is how I felt and that is the picture I carried around in my mind.

So, over time, I learned to never say what I wanted aloud lest the fates were listening. Indeed, I learned to not even think consciously about what I wanted in the event the fates had learned to read my mind.

It is akin to living like Eeyore with the little dark cloud sailing over you at all times blotting out the sun and making it seem like it is just about to rain at any moment.

Over the past few weeks, with all the latest developments in my personal and professional lives, I have heard myself describe the events in terms of dread rather than joy. Thinking it over, I decided it is the residual of living beneath the fates in their basket for so long. I am afraid to say how excited I am about the new job, the new city and the ability to buy the house which will lead me to accomplishing another goal: being able to adopt children. Instead of feeling joy and excitement, I have alternately described it as scary or daunting or just "new."

So in the past few days, I have been trying to feel the joy and the excitement. It's harder than it should be to do this. I am still afraid that if I am too happy that will equal content and the fates will figure out how to pull the rug out from underneath me... they are so good at that in my experience.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Grizzly Man

I said recently to someone that I like movies that make you do some of the work or that at least provoke your imagination. I am not entertained by just watching someone else's vision of the world. I don't think I factored into that notion that not everyone watching a movie would be doing the same kind of work.

I came face to face with the ramification of this many views of a movie after watching Grizzly Man.

I was dying to see this movie when it came out but somehow never made it to the theater. When it came out on dvd, I decided to add it to my netflix list. I don't watch nearly enough movies, even with netflix. I mean, I have the four per month only and some months I don't get to four. In any case, when Grizzly Man showed up in my mailbox the other day, I was really looking forward to seeing it.

I invited some friends to watch it with me and this is how I realized that we were not all watching the same movie, emotionally.

Here's my version:
The Grizzly Man is a wild man, almost not human creature. He lives in his own world, one where he is one with the bears and other wild animals. For instance, he sees a Grizzly Bear charging him and instead of playing dead as is the internationally accepted way to deal with this situation, he charges the bear!! So, he goes and spends the summers with the bears.

To me, this seems like the only appropriate way for someone like Timothy Treadwell to live. And when the grizzly bear eats him (and his female companion) it seems like the most appropriate way for him to die. He's in his forties; how much longer can he expect to be able to live in the wild with the bears? He probably had ten more years, but his way of dealing with the bears requires more than sprightliness; it requires braun and it's not clear how much longer he could appear as strong as he needs to be to challenge the bears.

Ok, I don't think that it was the female companion's most appropriate way to die. But, I figure it is the price of this summer adventure. It's not like she didn't know what he was going to do out there. She stayed when he decided to be out there longer than he usually stayed. Bottom line, you can't go out and live with the bears and expect safety. For that kind of wild experience, you pitch a tent at the zoo. I don't mean to be flip, but that is how I see it.

My final analysis of this piece is it is the life of a crazy man on his terms. I am thrilled for him. There are so many people who never get to live on their own terms. How many people actually get to live out their dream?? Ok, so this dream is pretty crazy, but he got to live it. He is living that Frank Sinatra song that is the mantra of so many repressed folks.

My friend's reaction to the movie was that it made her feel a tremendous sense of loss. That is was horrible for the two of them to be murdered by the bear. That it was especially unfair for the woman to die given that she was trying to be with the love of her life.

I had to back up right there because I don't remember anyone mentioning that these two had a fabulous relationship. In fact, my take was that they had just been together for a while before she decided to come along to bear country. I mean, let's be clear, he spend every summer in the wild, so how much time did he really have to be finding the love of his life? And, he actually spends a fair amount of time in the movie talking about how hard relationships with women had been for him. Not to mention the most obvious problem with this thesis, he doesn't consider himself a man, he considers himself a GRIZZLY man. He is not dealing with reality on a regular basis.

So, both of us were projecting a fair amount in our analysis of this one movie! WILD... I love it. Loved the movie. I invite you to see it and share your response.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Challenge...

I was just thinking that there were concrete, and easy, steps for me to take in this process of learning to love myself (with which I have been struggling). I opened up this DailyOM from April 26th and realized that universe was trying to help.

Listing Magnificence: Five Thing I Like about Me
Day One:
1. I speak truth to power
2. I believe in the essential goodness of people; I see them from the inside out -- the best each one could be
3. I love children -- especially the openness they have to the world, seeing everything as marvelously fascinating and their ability to bend without breaking
4. I feel deeply
5. I enjoy a challenge

The link takes you to the directions, but I will post them here briefly (read, edited):
Begin by writing down at least five things that you like about yourself. Continue this process for week, thinking of five new things you like about yourself everyday. At the end of the week, read the list aloud to yourself while standing in front of a mirror. Instead of looking for flaws to fix, allow the mirror to reflect your magnificence.
**Remember, it is when you feel the most resistant that this exercise can benefit you the most. Because we are constantly looking at the world, instead of looking at ourselves, we don't often see what's magnificent about ourselves that others do. When we take the time to experience ourselves the way we would experience someone we love and admire, we become our best companion and supporter on life's journey.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Leaving the Wild

Yesterday, I intended to write about this piece, but I couldn't figure out what to say about it, except read it!

If you have time, read it now; if you don't have time, print it out and take it with you for the commute (if you are not driving).

There is something magical about this story...not that there is a happy ending or magic in it per se.

It is the story of the unknown (to us) meeting the unknown (to them). To some extent, it is the story of words, communication and meaning.

How do people who can't live in the present (us) understand people who don't understand the word for future (them)?

Well, if none of that catches your imagination, I was equally riveted by the monkey "pets" and monkey "food" -- and the description of how these folks prepare their delicacy.

The meeting/clashing/connecting of cultures is infinitely interesting to me; perhaps that is why I have always dreamed of studying anthropology for the love of it, not as a way to put food on the table.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Whitney's voice has been repeating in my head for days. I think I get it now. I am breathing in and out now. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but I still don't necessarily feel better. Now I am wondering what my problem is that I have to get so upset about something that was so easy.

Apparently I don't need much prodding to find ways to be hard on myself.

On the way home today, instead of feeling relieved, proud, happy, I felt sad. And the bad angel kept whispering, no turning back now. And she sounded so much like the good angel, I couldn't tell if it was a warning, affirmation or just mocking.

Ahhh.... it's ok; it really is... and still the dread; what situation will come along that will pull the rug out from underneath me now? Is it really safe to breathe?

Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day; sleep should help.

The short version of my horoscope for today:
Your willingness to take the higher road will prove to be valuable and advantageous.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

News Round Up

Reading through the headlines today, I am struck by our inability as a nation to identify that which we truly care about and our rampant ADD which requires us to have fresh news about stupid things all day.

Here is a smattering of what the AP thinks is important, if not, top news.

The United States government, not to be deterred by obviously shizo guy not getting the death penalty, has decided that the next, greatest weapon against the terrorists, is to make said terrorists appear inept. I wonder to myself if this wasn't dreamed up after watching the AFT agent shoot himself in the foot (or was it leg) while telling young children that only trained professionals like himself should handle weapons. (Sorry I don' t have the link for that one, but it came with a VIDEO.)

Alternately, top news includes the very desired information about the status of Heather Locklear and Denise Richards' friendship. Ok, I can see why Heather would no longer be Denise's friend, but why is it framed as Richards No Longer Friends With Locklear? Honestly, I am sure it was Heather that took her dolls and went home. And what I really want to know is, how is this related to the restraining order Denise got against Charlie a few weeks ago? Now I may find the answer to these questions and many more if I actually read the article, but I am not really that interested. So I will just continue to read the "top news" headlines and marvel how often Denise appears. I mean isn't she Charlie Sheen's estranged wife who happens to be an actress? Oh yeah, she has a new show, and a press release happy publicist, apparently.

Now, if you really want a chuckle, you can read about someone heckling our fabulously effective and productive Secretary of Defense. I support anyone who hurls questions about Rummy's motives in public, but I just don't think ultimately it will be effective. I mean, if retired generals can say they don't think he is all that and should step down, and it gets ignored, what can us lowly civilians hope to accomplish?

Or, you can cringe while you read about the Minutemen types being given the authority to ARREST as many illegal aliens as they can find in Phoenix. I had to read this article because I need to know just how they are going to tell... and maybe I should get an airline ticket to Phoenix, only speak Spanish while I am there and not carry my social security card. Would that get me arrested? I would love to slap those assholes with a wrongful arrest suit.

Lastly for this posting, if you weren't disgusted enough by the last article, you can move right into the one about the man Haley Barbour won't pardon even though he went to jail for 7 years for allegedly asking someone to steal $25 of chicken feed. Forget for a minute that it was a trumped up charge (who the hell came up with that one? or was it just convenient that they had a guy in jail who had stolen $25 of chicken feed?) and just focus on the logic of sentencing a man to a year in jail for every $.57 of feed. His real crime was trying to integrate the University of Mississippi. It seems relentlessly cruel to not be willing to pardon someone who was falsely arrested, tried, convicted and inhumanely sentenced. I am sure there are many, many child molesters who never served anywhere near 7 years for their crimes. Proving once again that driving while Black is far more dangerous (and, apparently, criminal) than almost anything in the world.

I am sure there is much more to detail here, but I can't bring myself to do it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Posting Backlog

So... there really are at least four draft postings waiting for me to have some time and emotional energy to get them out.

It will happen, some time soon, but maybe not until next week.

I need to get through this weekend before I can really give attention to writing.

For now, let me say that I breathed a great sigh of relief that the jury in Virginia had the ability to see that putting an obviously mentally ill man to death will not bring any peace to anyone.

Someday, maybe, we will have the courage to actually blame the federal agents/agencies who did not heed the warnings that may have actually saved lives on 9/11.

Dare I suggest that someday we may even be able to admit that the way we treat other countries and other peoples has something to do with the fact that our people draw the ire of a fair amount of very unstable people and even some reasonable folks.

Ok... off the soap box, for the moment.

If you are interested in what has been going on with me, you will have to check back on my April postings when I get a chance to finish them.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day

There are perhaps too many images and emotions to describe this year's May Day; so I turn to someone else's words for help in my inarticulateness.

Here is some of what the DailyOM had to say about May Day:

Throughout history, humankind has celebrated the transition from season to season. The festival of May Day takes place on May 1 at the halfway point between the beginning of spring and the start of summer and originated in ancient times as a celebration of fertility, life, sexuality, and nature's renewal. May Day has many colorful and unique customs associated with it and is intimately bound to the Gaelic and pagan fire festival of Beltane. Both celebratory rites take place on the same day and are believed to have originated from the ancient Roman feast of Floralia, which honored Flora, the goddess of spring and flowers, as she returned to the earth to bring the fields back to life with her touch.

Traditionally, May Day celebrations began on April 30, when men and women spent the whole night in the woods where they would dance and play games. On the morning of May 1, they would emerge carrying freshly budded green boughs and flowers that were in bloom. A tree was felled and resurrected as the May Pole around which young people would twine ribbons in the hope of becoming entwined with a new love. Houses were decorated with freshly cut foliage to attract the blessings of earth spirits that were said to walk the land on the first of May. A May King and May Queen were chosen to represent fertility gods and goddesses.

Beltane, while also a festival of fertility and sensuality, remains primarily a festival of fire. The Beltane bonfire fire not only blesses the coming season, but also invites luck into one's life. Jumping over a Beltane fire, walking between two fires, or burning sacred wood and dried herbs in a fire guarantees an auspicious season. Often, people would put out their fires and rekindle their hearth using a flame taken from the bonfire.