Category Archives: Daily Log

Go On.

This is the part I didn’t want to think about.

Not because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Because I did know, and I didn’t want to suffer through it twice, once imagining it and again when it happened. There was nothing I could do to change it or influence it or cut it shorter. It was part of the deal when I first signed up, and there was no mitigating it.

I’ve only got a few weeks left, but I swear, every single day is harder. I keep looking for ways to soften it, ways to carry on, but nothing seems to work. Except with startling frequency, when I open my Bible, it is speaking of endurance or perseverance. Which means that even though I want to turn around and leave, right now, yesterday, before that, I can’t.

And I suppose that in itself is part of the reason why I’m here. When things get hard is when you find out what you cling to. I don’t cling to the thought of the glory of the degree or of the power of the paycheck. I can’t even cling to being done, as all around me the world whispers “just what until you see what you have to do next!” The only thing I can cling to is that it is God who brought me here, will bring me through here, and will take me away from here.

But it keeps getting harder, and I don’t understand why I just can’t be done already. I can’t understand what could possibly make the next few weeks worth it. No deal. No choice. Or at the very least, certainly not enough faith to even ask for what I most want, which is to somehow be done sooner. Done now.

Spinning

I know it’s traditional to be reflective this time of the year, but honestly, I think I am in between every semester. It’s the only time I seem to slow down enough to think, and thinking can’t be rushed. I’m probably particularly reflective because I hit a milestone in my trips around the sun this year, and because this is the last full semester of classwork coming up. It has left me in this peculiar space of partly feeling like big changes are coming, and partly not.

I feel like I should be preparing for some big turning of my world on the inside out, and yet feel as though I have no indication what those changes might be. But the flip side of that is knowing too well what changes are coming, and so deluding myself into thinking it will be no big deal. In another 6 months, I’m moving again. And even though it’s to a familiar place, it still means packing up all my belongings, tugging free what tendrils have rooted, and trying to retransplant. And the truth is, that will happen almost every 2 months for about 3/4s of a year. Surely that’s enough change for anyone.

But maybe trying to gear up for that season of rapid transition is part of the feeling of getting started on something new–I can’t dwell on that much shape-shifting. It’s hard enough to get through it without holding your breath for a year, so I find myself mentally “skipping over” that chapter and trying to figure out what comes next. The reality is that would be trying to divine what is going to be happening more than a year from now, and of course that doesn’t make sense. So mentally and emotionally, I think I’m trying to prepare for “what comes next” as though it would be forming during this semester and happening during this summer. But knowing that, in reality, that’s not so — well, it really puts a damper on one’s planning, I can tell you that.

It feels a good deal like spinning wheels — gearing up to get moving very quickly, yet going nowhere. I looked through seed catalogs the other day, but I’ll be spending the first half of the gardening season in one state, and the other half of the gardening season in another state. I’ve finally found a choir I enjoy singing in, but that will be over when I move, and there’ll be no looking for replacements for at least a year.

There’s a feeling of helplessness, I think, in being unable to plan. It’s not that everything ever has to go according to plan, but it’s just that there’s no bracing yourself for what comes next, or carving out a little piece of something to look forward to.

Watch

This is a biased, bigoted assumption, but I think the last person using this public microwave was a guy. There is rice dumped all over the inside of it. Curiously, it’s all over the table I wanted to sit at, too. I take the glass platter out of the microwave and sweep the rest of the rice onto it and empty it into the trash. When I put the platter back, I used my cleaning napkin to pick up the piece of chicken sitting by the microwave, too. Then I wipe the table of it’s rice, too, while my food heats. Why not? I’m on a roll.

There is a game I play with myself sometimes. If I were to have to survive off of the sustenance of vending machines, what would I eat? Trail mix. That popcorn is probably okay. Pretzels are safe, but pretty void of nutrition; that jerky claims to have protein but looks anything but safe. At least there is still water. Actually, there is water, and orange juice and grapefruit juice and V8 juice and milk–2% and whole. This is the sign of a first world, isn’t it? Clean water and milk from every handy machine. I don’t think it gets bought here much, though.

There is a guy over there, demonstrating his own survival skills. The machine won’t take his money. He folds his bill, smooths it, flips it around. Nothing. Won’t take it. He isn’t thwarted. He finds another machine that will accept it, and buys a pack of gum. The machine spits him back quarter after quarter. He won’t put weight on his left foot; something hurts him. I wonder what. Now he’s using his quarters to buy hot coffee syrup and water.

I have some survival skills, too. Like where the cleanest bathrooms are at. Never use the ground floors; top floor or basement. No one wants to deal with all those stairs. I left my knapsack unattended today, while I did three flights of stairs. Because I trust people. My knapsack is like, more than 30 pounds. No one wants to be bothered with that kind of work. Not here.

He speaks slowly, almost slurring his words. About how he has to play Candy Crush every day. But he started over. “Because. . .there was a level. . .that I got stuck on. . .soo. . .it was, like. . .boring. . .and stuff. . .so I started over.” I wish I could believe he was drugged or something. Developmentally disabled. He doesn’t look it. And this is not unusual behavior.

Everyone is bent. Huddled over devices. Little ones, tiny screens. Or bent over desks too low, or slumped in chairs. I scan. . .no eye contact, from anyone. What are we afraid of?

There’s this walk I keep seeing, a shuffle-slump-swagger. The head is still up, but the neck is forward, the shoulders are collapsed. The feet are careless, but the steps are guarded. Always the same expression on the face–“yeah, I could probably take you”–but the smirk doesn’t make it all the way across the face. One side always falters, exposing the doubt.

I see the scissor cuts in her jeans. To make them look worn. I guess maybe it takes too long get there naturally. Maybe she gets bored of them before then. She has studs all over her boots. And all over her knit cap. I’ve never seen a knit cap with studs before. I wonder if it’s meant to be ironic, or if there’s something I’m missing.

When we stop at the light, there is such a stream of cars. All the people hurry-scury-ing about, going their places, doing their things. I wonder if all the people are happy?

Take Off Your Sandals

It’s really perfectly normal, at first. Okay, the security line is a bit stressful, because you don’t know what you’re doing, and the line is moving so fast, and it’s quite clear people will be annoyed if is you slow it down in any way. But it isn’t rocket science, and you are a capable adult, so you get through that okay. And the waiting area by the gate is droll and typical, complete with vending machines trying to sell you sub-Saharan bottled water.

Then they start calling people to board, and you think it’s normal. Nothing seems strange about walking down the portable hallway, and nothing seems odd about the weather—cloudy. Drizzly. Miserable. Expected. But when you get to the plane, the actual plane, you realize something is wrong.

For starters, you start having severe flashbacks to the time you toured a submarine. And you stand there in the crowded line, with people shimming sideways and trying to make their elbows fit while shoving things in the over-head storage (which is a mis-nomer, because it’s lower than everyone’s head, if they’re standing; your shoulders barely fit under the ‘overhead’ storage)—and you think, really? Really, this is what people mean when they talk about how they love to fly, and how glamorous it is to travel? This is like trying to fit around the supper table at the old house. I thought that wasn’t socially acceptable, never mind socially laudable.

But never mind. If the emperor has no clothes and no one wants to mention it, far be it from you to bring it up. You don’t mind crowded—you grew up crowded–, and besides, the chairs are so small they actually fit you, so this will be a comfortable flight, even if you do pity the others. You see them coming onto the plane, and they definitely aren’t as small as you. They’re bigger—taller, wider. How will they fit? Nevermind; you’re comfortable.

The stewardess starts to give the spiel about seatbelts and cellphones, and you try very hard to pretend it’s normal. But—since this is the first flight, you actually look at the stewardess. . .and the PA system she’s using, which is a phone. Like, the phone you grew up with, not like your cell phone. With a cord, and a big plastic handset. And you start wondering how old the plane is.

But the plane is taxiing, which means butterflies are starting to get warmed up in your stomach. You peer out the lil tiny submarine porthole, to make sure the pilot won’t be crashing in to anything. Surprisingly, the captain seems to actually know how to taxi. You can see him turn corners, and navigate the airport. And then you can see that the runway is spreading out straight before you, and so logic tells you: next we speed up.

Now the urge is strong—in your mind, you’re back on the roller coaster, closing your eyes, because then the monsters under the bed can’t see you. But you’re riding with your crazy, loopy brother, who refuses cowardice, and literally pries your eyes open before the coaster starts. He could be sitting right next to you right now—you so badly want to close your eyes, but you can’t. That would be cheating.

Faster, faster, faster. You get uncontrollable giggles when heights get involved; tops of the ladders are iffy. You can’t get hysterical giggles here—the plane is packed full of people who would hear you! But you feel the wheels leave the pavement, and inside the hysteria is building. Hold on, hold on—there, you made it. You are beyond the realm of reality, and you cannot comprehend the height, so the hysteria passes.

But you are high enough now that every horrible plane crash story you ever heard now suddenly has a thousand times more context. Like the plane that fell out of the sky in the Buffalo suburbs not too long ago. See all the houses? What is holding the plane up? Supposing the engines suddenly cut right now? Straight down to all the little houses. . .

That thought passes, too, because it is cloudy. So very cloudy. Wisps of mist turn rapidly into the gloomiest winter cloud. Still, you can feel the plane going up. More up. More up. You can’t help but strain at the little porthole, trying to see something. Where are you? Grey. Everything is grey.

It almost feels like you’ve become unconscious, that un-connected dream world where nothing takes shape. At first it’s subtle, and you think you’re imagining it, but no—the light is coming. The grey is growing brighter and brighter—the whole cabin is filling with white light. What is out there? You strain again toward the glass. You can see the wing now, it isn’t hidden by cloud. Whiteness fills below. Why is there a blue streak on the wing?

Stop looking down.

You’re on top of the clouds. The sky is such an intense, brilliant blue, like a Caribbean beach, only more so. Look—it’s so bright! So very, very bright. White clouds, blue sky, and such a driving sun. Part of you supposes it’s no wonder the earth reflects so much light. The other part of you knows you have reached the heavens, and you wonder where the throne is. Perhaps He is higher, but one cannot quell the thought that some heavenly beings must be about. The silence—the barrenness—it seems sacred, and you feel like an intruder. The engine of the plane grinds on underneath you, but it’s unnatural. It doesn’t belong here. It is trespassing. Everyone is quiet.

Then the stewardess comes out, with her cart that barely fits in the aisle, to offer a drink or a snack, and suddenly it has gone from the surreal to the ludicrous. The flight will barely be an hour—less time than it took to get to the airport! Are we children, unable to wait that long for a drink? Oh, are we children, playing make believe, playing house in the flying tin-can? You played many of those games growing up. Here, have some pretzels!

And yet, it is sobering. Like the old plastic phone. We are back in time. The stewardess is in her proper uniform, which so many of us have forgotten could ever be anything besides polo shirts and khaki’s. This is official business. This is serious. They have to be professional, because we’re putting our lives in their hands, and we haven’t gotten far enough away from it to stop being afraid, just yet. It’s too easy to understand the noise rumbling under our feet. There is a metal shell, and under that, engines. The engines go, and we are higher than a human was made to go. The engines stop, and we won’t be anymore. It’s too simple for comfort.

It’s too absurd. It’s absurd that it’s so small in such a vast space, that humans could be so close in size to something hurtling through the sky by audacity alone. One doesn’t seem to think one should say “it’s too small to go so high”—but, it might rather be built like a sting-ray, rather than a submarine. Submarines go down, and at least we could pretend that a sting-ray would float.

That’s why mild turbulence is good. You are all but blindfolded and thrown in a trunk—your senses are worthless to you. You can’t see, anything but clouds and holy light. You can’t gauge your speed, your destination. You can’t hear anything, besides the engines. No sound of passing objects, no sound of living beings. You can’t feel anything, no rush of wind. You learn to sit straight and use yourself to try to measure velocity and gravity and direction change. When the rumbles come underneath you, less than spring pot-holes, you can pretend there is something solid holding you up. When it leaves, you have nothing.

You can feel the descent before it is announced, with what ever gravimeter your body posseses. We will be heading down. You watch out the peep-hole; the cloud floor is coming closer and closer. You make a bet with yourself that you will be able to feel when the plane hits the clouds, and you’re right. You descend into the clouds like rising fog after a rain, and in the shadows of the mist, you can’t help but looking for dancing dervishes, for otherworldly vermin. But you have passed through those fingers of between-worlds, and it is all grey again. Grey and getting darker, and darker. The cabin is enveloped in gloom again, away from the brilliant light that shines above.

You know you are getting lower. You can feel it. You’re turning, you know it. But everything is grey. There is supposed to be a city under you, but you can’t see it. They say they can fly by instruments, land by instruments. Where is the ground? It is time to imagine the captain. Imagine him a very clever, brave fellow, very talented, very experienced, of course. Of course.

You seem to come out of the grey around the same time the trees come up—you are already lined up with the runway—nearly touching down already. No one told you to brace for impact, but how can you not? Here comes the ground!

There is not so very much impact so much as a very bad case of road rash, but it is comforting to see that, surprisingly, the submarine can slow down rather rapidly after all, even when it hits the ground on purpose. The grey is gone—well, above you now, anyway—and the very, very, very clever captain is taxing to his destination.

This plane—this whole contraption—it’s moving, you know. The people on the ground seem to not comprehend this. They’re too close. They’re right by the wings. Is that—isn’t that a refueling station? It’s too close! But he parks the whole silly van, perfectly fitting without an error of more than a foot from wing tip to wing tip, easy.

The entire cabin breaths a collective sigh of relief. Because now we can use our cellphones again. Instantly, everyone dives for their handheld devices, restoring their deprived lifestream. We file out of the archaic machine and find our luggage. We are back to the land we know: fast food; internet; talking loudly on cell phones; impatient lines; computer screens and overhead announcements. Much better, naturally.

How unnatural.

Just Ducky!

We needed to give away a few of our ducks, having the male/female ratio disproportionate in the wrong direction. I had made mention to Deirdre that we weren’t going to catch them right away in the morning (meeting up with the recipient at 2:30pm), but that when we were going to, we would herd them all inside the coop and close the doors. This would make it much easier to choose the right ones to get rid of, because, of course, it was very important to Deirdre that we keep the “right” drakes.

Deirdre came in beaming a bit bashfully (yes, that is physically possible; but I didn’t have a camera to capture the moment for you).

“Well, I have good news and bad news!” she proclaimed.

“Okay,” I said. “What’s the good news and bad news?”

“Well, first I’ll tell you the good news. The good news is that now I definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY know for sure which male harlequin to keep!” Thus she declares like Christmas has come.

“And what’s the bad news?”

“Oh. . .well, . . .I forgot to make sure the gate was closed, so all the ducks went to the creek.”

Head bonk. Head bonk. Head bonk.

So, after preparing our box for transportation, I explain to Deidre we will have to herd the ducks from the creek to the coop, so we properly capture our prey. Deirdre insists we can catch them at the creek.

“How on earth do you think we can do that with out getting soaked to our underdandies?”

“BOOTS! We’ll wear boots!”

“How is that going to keep our underdandies dry? In case you didn’t notice the creek is deeper than our boots, and guess what? The ducks, when they’re in the water? Splash a lot. And when they’re chased? They splash more!”

Nonetheless, she was insistent we could catch them at the creek.

“Fine,” I finally said. “We’ll go down to the creek. YOU can try to catch them–not me!–and when it doesn’t work, then we’ll herd them back up to the coop.”

“It will too work! BOOTS!”

(No, this is not a three year old. I don’t blame you for being confused.)

So we trundle outside, heading toward the creek.

Quank. Quank. Qu-quank.

Sharp left turn executed. All the ducks are no longer at the creek. Closer inspection required.

Ducks, being the brilliant creatures that they are, don’t quite get the concept of fences. Pekin (who may be soon named Mary Lou), the two Rouen drakes, and Gertrude are all inside the fence, just by the coop. All four Harlequins are outside the fence, just by the coop.

Bam. Closed the far side of the coop. Ushered in the Harlequins. Bam. Closed the near side of the coop. Catch one, catch two, and the box is taped shut. Isabelle and her “boyfriend” (as Deirdre refers to him; he may soon be dubbed Joseph) are let out of the coop.

That’s the neatest, cleanest, quietest, calmest duck catching I’ve ever done in my life, oops-I-left-the-gate-open notwithstanding.

Ducky!

The Long Introduction

For not the first time, I reduced my sister to tears.

There are too many ducks. In specific, too many male ducks.

They will have to be gotten rid of, the way one has to get rid of ducks.

My head can rationalize it a million different ways. I know the abuse that happens when these things aren’t in balance; I know I’m doing them no favors to keep them this way. And I can rationalize about bodies of water, and rationalize about cramped quarters during the winter, and rationalize about food bills, and I can rationalize about more ducks next year, in the form of ducklings. I can even be grateful that God made male animals more fit for food; one has to eat, and leaving behind the females means the flock continues to grow. Certainly a recommended 1 male to 5 female ratio makes for a fairly good provision of food, and clearly there will plenty left to continue reproducing.

But the “mom” in me cries out with her. They’re all individual, unique, irreplaceable. Save them all, love them all, raise them all.

This is no one time burden. Ducklings next year? Maybe. Hopefully. How many do you suppose will be male? More must die.

So you decide to go like Cain, and just do vegetables.

Today I started clearing out my garden. It was doing beautifully, and then the rainy season hit. With one accord, every plant became diseased. The garden melted; the fruit rotted. There I was, pulling my hard, tender work out of the ground with the stench of death in my nose. I filled wheelbarrows full of labor that never achieved the fullness of its life.

Can anything be done that avoids the shadow of death? It is though our every step is a reminder that we, too, will someday come to know death. For now we are merely beginning the long introduction.

What depth of faith is required to believe that there is something stronger than death.

This Page Intentionally Left Blank

This is when I think of witty, clever, interesting, thought-provoking, imaginative things to write: 12:14 AM. I am half awake, half asleep. Or maybe 75% asleep and 25% awake. Maybe not even that awake. Everyone knows twilight is the best time for writing ideas.

This is when I forget witty, clever, interesting, thought-provoking, imaginative things to write:

*when my alarm o’clock goes off 6 AM. Seriously–what do YOU remember when your alarm goes off?

*when I am hustling around to get out of the house and to work on time. What do YOU remember when you hustle?

*when I am at work. Because when I am trying to remember all of my patients, there isn’t room in my head for anything else. I have a small head. It’s tiny. Not much can fit in it.

*when I come home from a 10 hr day. I look at the white screen in front of me and find it almost a mirror for the blankness in my mind. It makes me pretty sure that Descartes was a terrible philosopher. ‘Cause I certainly don’t think and yet I exist. If we blink out of existence every time we stop thinking, then, well. . .life would be a heck of a lot easier. ‘Cause do you know the consequences of not thinking? Better to skip all that.

I apologize for not being witty. It’s not that I’m not witty, it’s just that I’m only witty at 12:14 AM, and I’m far too selfish to wake up enough to share the joke with you. Sorry.

I want a bird

This is sorta akin to saying “I want a pony,” because I have a friend who works in a pet store, and I found out the genus of bird I’m interested in runs at like $200-$300. Owie.

But still. While I am talking about my pony, let me describe it to you. I’m looking at Conures, which are a type of parrot. They’re very people friendly, very smart, and full of playful antics. According to their singles’ ads. I mean, their descriptions online. Like this. How could you not want one?

Oh, yeah. That price tag.

I’m still tempted to save my pennies.

Aw, it’s a birdy.

Family Business

So my little family-owned physical therapy company decided to have their company holiday meal in January. People were just too busy and too stressed in December. They sent out their invitations to three of their offices (plus the one I work at) to come join them at a local steak house.

And when I say family owned, I mean the husband and wife jointly own the company and both sat in the middle of the U-shaped seating arrangement; he had his arm about the back of her chair nearly the whole time, and the conversation frequently veered into the territory of what was so great about the Green Bay Packers. He was thoroughly picked on by his employees when he had to borrow his wife’s glasses to read the bill, and pictures were taken and threatened to be put on Facebook.

Everyone touts the all-American, small town family businesses, but so few actually get the pleasure of being part of one.

Clean Clean Up

That’s not a typo. Clean clean up.

Today at work, a laundry detergent jug was jiggled off the counter by the washing machine. When it landed, its cap popped off. Yay for clean messes!

Sorta.

It also happened to land in the garbage can I had just emptied the vacuum cleaner into. That made a nice, soapy mud.

My co-worker went straight for a bucket of water, but I opted to first scoop as much of it up with a mop and a dustpan, which was a lot of it.

Anyway, needless to say, I still reek of laundry detergent. I don’t know if my last two patients noticed or not; I’m sure neither would have mentioned it.

My co-worker was highly unamused by the whole mess (argh, pun!), but was just profoundly happy it was a clean mess. Not bodily fluids or semi-solids. Puke is terrible. It makes you gag. Reeking of urine is a lot harder to politely excuse. A 1/4 of an inch of laundry detergent over a wide swath of floor is relatively pleasant in comparison.