Monthly Archives: July 2010

Find Out

So today I found myself walking into the room of a patient who’d been cleared by the nurse to have physical therapy. Only I found the patient shaking and shivering violently from head to toe, pale, with bluish lips, asking for another blanket. So I grabbed two, and then asked him how long he’d been this way and if his nurse knew about it (about half an hour, and no). So I found myself asking for the nurse to come in, and I found her face to look rather surprised, confused and concerned. I found that his forehead was hot and dry, and that the nurse was having a hard time taking his blood pressure because of his shaking, and his O2 was not as high as it should be. And then I found another more experienced nurse had been fetched in, and that they were agreeing to call some sort of code. As I was led away from the room, I found doctors with defibrillators and respiratory doctors and all sorts of people making a deliberate walk toward the room.

And then we went to a different floor, because rehab doesn’t work with people like that. And then I found myself crying and being led by two therapists into a room to be myself until I could pull myself together, and then I found out that I still see my grandfather in every dying man I see.

And sometimes I wonder how long it will be that way.

Pithy Pondering of the Moment

Every once in a while I get caught up chasing reflection and echos and ripples and still frames. They look so nice. They are so nice. But the more you chase these reflections and echos, the blurrier, duller, less meaningful and weaker they become. Everyone once in while, I feel like some voice shouts out, “Hey, dummy! You’re headed the wrong direction! Turn around and go back to the source!” Oops. Oh, yeah. It isn’t the product, it’s the Creator, the giver of all good things. Out of His good bounty flows many good things. . .and filled with Him, we too send out reflections and echos of His goodness. But chasing the reflections and the echos instead of what they are reflecting and echoing. . .it turns to ashes pretty quick.

I am also reminded of the part that says something along the lines of “painful for the moment, but producing good fruit.” Onerous tasks are an echo of that. I hate doing them, but it’s so good to be done with them. Creating order out of chaos, getting rid of waste and junk, straightening the crooked, taking better care of the good things that remain, casting aside things that weigh me down. . .

There is a virtue in beauty, of a sorts. God is not a thoroughly utilitarian God, bent on nothing more than stark function. When He created, He created beauty; we see it all around us, reflected intricately even in the world we’re in. Why, then, are we so surprised, when a little beauty lifts the spirits? Man cannot live on bread alone; there’s a whole long shopping list.

What I mean to say is that finding outward calm and order does not create inward calm and order. . .but often times outward calm and order flows out of inward calm and order. It is not graceful situations that make us graceful.

“It’s not what we expected
not what we had planned
but maybe it is better
than we can understand

like finding a good reason
in a bottle on the shore
everything will have it’s season
nobody’s keeping score

this is not how I thought that it would be
waiting on some circumstance, to make me feel complete

innocence, we pass it down
like corduroys with the knees worn out
i wanna take the long way home
the long way home

i’m driving in slow motion
on streets of might-have been’s
put to rest my reservations
A new day to begin

this is not how I thought that it should go
drag me around and around the things I thought I should know

love is not efficient, but even if it was…

innocence lost and found
like quarter tones that pass the hour
i wanna take the long way home”

–Sandra McCracken, The Long Way Home

Somehow it makes me smile to think of this whole world down here as just the scenic, “inefficient” but infinitely loving, long way home. And some how this is comforting, too:

“like a train car running off the tracks,
you can run behind, but you cannot get it back…

change comes like the splitting of wood
like the plow blade turns the soil on the ground
and the change comes like it should
you gotta die before you live
something’s gotta give for you to find
what comes after”

–Sandra McCracken, Traincar.

Change can be ugly and brutal. . .but things aren’t supposed to stay the same down here. They’re supposed to change; I’m supposed to change. . .

Nickel & Dime

Every time I get sick and tired of trying to count every penny and be careful to only buy what is only 100% necessary. . .I hear some story about how my brother came back against all odds in a computer game by doing just that. If you spend 4 gold to make your opponent lose 5 gold. . .eventually you can wear him down and come out on top.

I tell myself that, I know that. . .but it can still be pretty un-fun to do in real life. I just want to say, “Whatever! Monies don’t really matter anyway!” and do whatever. It’s not something I want to worry about, but right about now it’s not something I have loads of. I tell myself that it’s necessary right now, because I have a very specific goal I need to meet. But at the same time, I find myself hoping that when I get a job–a real job, not a $9/hr per diem nonsense pain-in-the-neck type job–I won’t have to worry about nickels and dimes any more and just focus on the dollar bills. I’m not talking reckless irresponsibility here–just not being such an OCD control freak about every little tiny monetary thing.

I remember one time there was an email–one of those mass-forwarding types–and one of the questions was, “If you had more money, what would you spend it on?” I was struck by one of my aunt’s answers, because she replied “Buy more gifts for other people.” It captured how I sometimes feel, when you see something and it totally screams someone’s name. . .but you don’t get it and give it to them because after all, it’s overpriced and silly, but you know, to quote the kodak/credit card ads, smiles can be worth it. Sometimes it is just about the people. Sometimes I don’t really care to eat out–my packed lunch is quite sufficient, thank you very much–but sometimes I’d rather hang out and the only way to be sociable is to be where people are, and people eat out all the time. Sometimes somebody has had a bad day and you’d like to buy them a candy bar or something as a way of saying “I know your day stinks, but I’ve got your back.” But when you are nickeling and diming yourself to death, you aren’t allowed to make such gestures.

There’s a certain strain that makes it sound like “frugality” is next to saintliness, or something, but the longer I try to keep track of everything I spend and make everything turn out all right. . . the more I understand what it means to be controlled by your possessions. It begins to drive me batty. Sure, life is full of choices, pros and cons, pluses and minuses. . .you do one thing, you will pay the price some other way. But I wish I wasn’t watching my pennies. I’m okay with the whole saving idea, I’m okay with the whole restraint don’t-buy-everything thing. But I do wish I could spend money without feeling like it was a wicked thing to do. Okay, that’s a little tongue in cheek, but really–it leaves me feeling kind of guilty, and why should it? I worked for. Because somehow money is supposed to be used for dutiful and responsible and necessary things, so every purchase–no matter the amount–leaves you wondering, do I really need this? Could I have gotten away without it?

And that’s obsessive. I’d rather be able to say, “Whatever, it was 5 bucks. The world is not going to end over 5 bucks,” then to sit there weighing every possible cost-benefit angle and trying to determine if this was really a frivolous purchase or really a necessary one. I tell myself this is so frustrating and pointless and can’t possibly really matter. And then I go back and crunch the numbers and realize that I’ll barely be making it even while nickle and diming. That should hardly come as a surprise. . . most people would say it’s impossible to do what I’m trying to do, anyway. But that doesn’t make it any more fun to second guess–six different times–any purchase I would think to make.

My brother can “micro” his way to victory out of impossible situations in his computer games, and I’m still determined to “micro” my way through college. But it’s beginning to feel exceedingly tedious. But there is only 9 more months left, and you can take a lot as long as it’s only for nine months, right? And then the sneaky voice in the back of my head says “if you get hired right out of school,” and before long it feels like I’m condemned to live a life of nickeling and diming forever.


I like pale yellow roses.

When I was on my clinical, every time I walked to be the hospital or walked home I walked past this pale yellow rose bush. I always wanted there to someone outside to talk to about the roses. I know gardeners–gardeners love making other people into gardeners. It’s fun for gardeners to pass on plants, and they’re tickled if you like their plants enough to want them. So all I needed to do was meet the gardener, and I would get clippings of this yellow rose. This would be splendid, because my last attempt at growing yellow roses had just sadly met it’s end. Yellow roses would just be a spot of happiness if I could grow them.

There was never anyone out there. Not in the morning, not in the afternoon. I took pictures of the roses; I looked at the roses every day. But nobody was ever outside, even though the garden was obviously being taking care of. But every day I hoped and every day I checked. Maybe today.

The first week went by, and there was nobody.

The second week went by, and still I never saw anyone.

The third week went by, and I realized I might never met the owner of the roses.

The fourth week was going by, and I started to resign myself that yellow roses were not for me.

On the very last day, I walked home. When I started nearing the roses, I talked to myself inside my head. “Oh well, self. I guess no roses. This is your last day, and you never met anyone. Your silly little dream of bringing home roses to grow and make you smile is nothing more than a silly little dream.”

Then I walked around the corner, and I saw someone tending the roses.

Coincidence upon coincidence!

I did indeed talk with her, and she was indeed as pleased as punch to offer me cuttings–come by and get them any time! We talked about other wonderful nearby gardens. We amicably parted ways, and right before I left town, I took one nice big cutting.

I took it home in a jar of water. It was a very happy little rose. I turned it into two cuttings and followed proper directions for getting roses to root.

Now there are two dead rose twigs sitting on my window sill.

I don’t want to get rid of them. Because nothing was going to work out and I wasn’t going to get my little hope and dream, and then, against all odds, it did work out! And then in the end it didn’t matter, it didn’t make a difference, and it still didn’t happen. So my dead twigs are sitting on the windowsill, waiting to burst into life and prove that against all odds, everything is okay.

well said

‘what you think is the point is is not the point at all but only the beginning of the sharpness.’

–Flann O’Brien, a la Policeman MacCruiskeen