January 30, 2009

Beautiful Destruction

Walking was ice skating.

Driving was suicide.

Every individual blade of grass encased by 1/4 inch of ice. The field became a sea of coral polyps.

Intensely Beautiful.

© 2008
All rights reserved

January 26, 2009

Shoestring budget...

I used to babysit, therefore I know the going-rate for babysitters 8 years ago. And I cannot afford the going-rate for babysitters 8 years ago, so I do not inquire as to the going-rate of babysitters this year.

Last week, we were determined, babysitter or no, to go on a date. A real date, not the buy a frozen lasagna, put the one year old to bed early, and eat it by candlelight in front of a movie kind. Those dates have their place, but last week was not their place.

A long time ago, in a distant tropical land, in a Mexican restaurant called Bandito's Cantina, the Farmers dropped a jewel of wisdom before me. At the time, I did not perceive the immense value of that jewel, but in my hour of need, their sage advice came to mind, "We always come to this restaurant because the waiter gives each of our boys a balloon." Sheer genius.
"We are not living on a shoestring budget," thought I, "we are living on a balloonstring budget."

As husband and I played cards and savored brick oven baked calzones, one year old sat in a wooden highchair, tugging joyfully on the string of his gravity-defying red balloon.

January 24, 2009

Call 911! Oh, wait... that's me.

As I sit on an office chair subconsciously turning it in it slightly from side-to-side, my phalanges (fingers) drum the table absentmindedly and I take in everything my instructor is teaching.

"You have a geriatric (elderly) patient who complains of not being able to breathe.
She is breathing at 34 bpm (breaths per minute) and shallow. She has no radial (wrist) pulse and her carotid (artery in the neck) pulse is weak. What oxygen will you administer and using what mask?"

I raise my hand.
Each time I raise my hand I take time to make sure what I'm going to ask makes sense. It does again this time.
"Ma'am, couldn't we just call 9-1-1 and let the professionals take care of the situation?"
She stares at me blankly.
"You ARE the professional."
I remember my hand is still up and pull it back down.
A second later it shoots back up.
This time I've really got it. This makes perfect sense.
"Sergeant, one time my dad ran over his own leg with his truck. See, he'd parked it on a hill and it was a manual truck and he'd forgotten to put the emergency brake on, so when he tried to stop it it ran over his leg."

"What does that have to do with administering oxygen?"

"My dad breathed into a paper bag all the way to the hospital and he made it alright. Maybe the geriatric patient could breathe into a paper bag."

She stared at me.

I don't think that was the answer she was looking for.

So I gave it one more shot.

"Yes?" She was a little bit um...irked at me I think.

"I would administer 15 liters per minute of oxygen through a non-rebreather mask to the patient."
She smiled.
"And what would you do if the patient became unresponsive?"
"I would administer CPR with a pocket mask, one way valve and supplemental oxygen until my patient became a Republican."

In a world where my days are fully occupied cramming my brain with medical terms such as "oropharyngeal" "respiratory arrest" and "man shot in the face during a hunting accident", humor is how I survive this new world of insanely difficult schooling.

To be able to look at someone in my class and call them "glucose zygomatic" and they look at me quizzically before realizing that it means "sweet or sugar cheeks" is my ultimate entertainment.
Day after day I sit, focused and attentive, absorbing material that is WAY smarter than I am.

The military pays me to be in school full time and after I graduate a person with severe chest pain who calls 9-1-1 will have me show up at their door.
I'll be expected to assess the scene and patient, administer whatever emergency care is needed, then transport them safely back to the hospital.
It's enough motivation for me to be...scared spitless. (Commonly referred to as "parotitis")

I now live and breathe a language where "BID" means twice daily, "q" is every and there's blood in just about everything (except hopefully BRP, which means bathroom privileges).

There is no longer any race, because we are all equal, have the ability to go into cardiac arrest (heart stops functioning) and we are all...pink.
Every nail bed, every oral mucosa (inside the lower lip) and every conjunctiva (inside the lower eyelid) transcends all language and cultural barrier.
If any one of those is pale, cyanotic (bluish), flushed (unnaturally red) or jaundiced (yellowyish) then you are unhealthy.

As I agonize over every test question becoming increasingly diaphoretic (the symptom of sweating) I take a deep (good tidal) breath and pause.

I am growing closer every day to becoming a Nurse.
God is incredible.
My frontal lobe (section of the brain responsible for memory) buzzes as I overwork the poor, ignorant fool.
I. Love. Life.

January 22, 2009

A Truck, Not a Conversation

It was a simple compliment directed to him with the intent of being outgoing and perhaps initiate a conversation.
“I like your truck.”
His features changed suddenly and he became harsh and rough in his tone of voice.
“No, it is not nice truck. It’s terrible truck. It’s not even mine. I had to borrow it to come here.”
Startled, I attempted to smooth things over.
”I wouldn’t say that. I would say it’s an…exciting truck. Look at that bed, they don’t make them like that anymore. And those seats with the red velvety material? Heck yeah!”

“You like it? Then take it. I don’t want it anymore. I hate it. You want to know something? I had a nice truck once. Last year.”
My gaze shifted momentarily to his hands as my eyes caught their movement. His hands were slowly clenching into fists, and he stepped a little closer to me as he spoke forcefully and bitterly.
“I had a Ford F-150. It was a 2004 model, and it was silver. I decided that I would go home one year for Christmas to visit my family across the border in Mexico. I fell in love with a beautiful woman there. I tried to take her home and the border patrol, they took the truck from me, and put her in jail.”
His eyes flashed in anger and his chest heaved as he spoke passionately.

“Forty-four days she stayed in jail. Then they deported her right out of the country, back to Mexico. That was three years ago. Every month I try again to get Visa for her, but they will not let it go through.”
He paused, as if waiting to hear my excuses, my defense, or even just my response, but none came. I was speechless and even slightly confused. How do I reply to that?

“I’m sorry, that’s awful.”
Completely understanding the inherent strength in a silence, he didn’t respond.
He simply turned his back to me and got back in his truck.
Taking a step backwards, I found myself still trying to find something to say to him, even though he’d already closed the vehicle door.
The engine stalled, once, twice, three, four…five…six…times.
He opened the door to say something to me, and I immediately offered “would you like me to push the truck for you, sir?”

“No, its okay. But do you see? This is not a nice truck.”
The Hispanic man who couldn’t have been more than in his late thirties waved me on, dismissing me.
“Buenos noches” I called out to him before heading back inside.
He looked up briefly, nodded, then as the engine turned over and finally caught, he closed his door and drove away with the roar of the clutch bridging its first and second gears.

Feeling empty, I spent the remainder of the evening chiding myself for not saying something encouraging or apologizing for what had happened to him.
Three days later, sitting at my computer writing and still attempting to process through what had been said in the parking lot that night, I came to a conclusion.

There are some things in life that should only be heard, not made into conversation.

January 17, 2009

Cloud Chase

Guy 2 contemplated the view.
The blues were to crispy to be left in the open air. They would fade within hours to a dull night.
"Someone must steal that view," he thought, "And paste it on canvas."

"Cloud Chase"
© 2008
All rights reserved

January 12, 2009

Birthdays are Scary

Shhhhh. Don't tell Mommy I'm writing on 6wayintersection. I'm not one of the original six.
Guess what? Last week I had a birthday. Birthdays are scary. Don't have one.

That morning, Mommy swept all my cheerios off the floor... that always means company's coming. Mommy bought 2 folding chairs. Must be important company. Sure enough 2 families showed up. They brought little kids that Mommy calls my "friends". They played with my toys.

After dinner, Mommy put fire on a cake. Everybody suddenly started singing a loud song and staring at me. I said "down" but nobody listened. Then she put the fire right by my face! This is the same mommy that says "No, little bug, don't touch, it's HOT!" whenever I look at the big fire in the living room. After the grown ups laughed at me, Mommy blew the fire out. I thought life was getting better.

But it was getting worse. Daddy put something else on my tray. It was frigid, wet, and gooey. Then it dawned on me. This was snow in disguise! Snow makes me cold. "Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice..." Was this the end of the world?

When they finally pushed a wet rag all over my face and set me down, all the grown-ups wanted me to rip paper. Mommy teaches me not to tear my books or her ecli... elci.. eclitrissty bills. I gave them what they wanted, I ripped the paper. There were boxes inside! Small boxes, big boxes, funny shaped boxes! Silly grown-ups threw all the boxes away and tried to get me interested in toys. I was too tired to have any more "fun".

So, if anybody ever says, "Hey, wanna have a birthday?" Just say no.

But if you go to a restarant and it's the day after your birthday, ask for a helium balloon. Daddy asked for me. Maybe the waiter will draw a funny face on it. Maybe they'll let you hold the string all dinner long. Maybe they'll give it to you again when you wake up the next morning. Maybe your daddy will breathe in the air and talk like a squirrel.

January 10, 2009

Think. Consider.

O young babes in Bethlehem

Lying lifeless in their innocence

Slain in vain they lie

Slain for a goal not achieved

Matthew 2.16

Weep, Rachel, weep

Refuse to be comforted

Weep, Rachel weep

Your children are no more

Jeremiah 31.15

Think on this and cry for mercy

Let your heart awake and mourn

Even beasts nurse their young

Not so, with our daughters

Lamentations 4.3

People, lift your hands to Him

For the lives of your children

Slain in vain they lie

At the head of this street

Lamentations 2.19

Weep, Rachel, weep

Refuse to be comforted

Weep, Rachel weep

Your children are no more

Jeremiah 31.15

This I call to mind even now

Remember the steadfast love of my Lord

His mercies new again and again

Therefore I have hope

Lamentations 3.21-23

c. 1510 - 1512 sketch by Leonardo do Vinci

Two links that have impacted my life:
Think. Consider.

January 6, 2009

The Dying Time

At 4:35 pm I cannot see my to do list unless I lighten the house
Now, house alight, I stop "to do-ing" and resign myself to night
This is winter

Snow, in all it's shocking purity, fell in inches, then in feet
We rejoiced until the slush took on the character of its cousin, mud
This is winter

Christmas, the anticipated, came, unafraid of skinny budgets or icy roads
And then Christmas left.
This is winter


This is winter, the dying time
My fuchsia, the hummingbird coffee shop of last summer
Is gasping for warmth

This is winter, the dying time
My friends (of the stay up till 2am talking sort), to our joy, were near to marrying one another
Friendship withered, though, and died, I think

This is winter, the dying time
The occupation I loved most (aside from being a mom, of course), God asked me to lay down
And when I laid it down, He took it away.


Malachi, the oracle, wrote to a people who lived in the heart of the dying time
The priests didn't care, the marriages were faithless, and God didn't matter
Malachi decried the winter, but he also spoke of spring


While my fuchsia fades
(No better for the nasty fall it took while the pot was transported from one patch of kitchen sun to another)
I sketch my garden plot for Spring

My friends
(Who still bestow all their hope on Christ, and even more so now)
Are free to follow desires He has placed on their hearts, for university or home or other friendships

Though my spirit is not free to teach, it is free to write
(Pleasant thought: one must have a spotless house in which to tutor, but not in which to write)
And free to make forts out of sheets and chairs to play with one who will soon be one

I think this dying time
Is useful to my soul


"But for you who fear my name,
the sun of righteousness shall rise
with healing in its wings.
You shall go out
leaping like calves from the stall."
Malachi 4.2

January 3, 2009

Northwest Culture: Part II

Reasons I love the Northwest:

Mount Rainier
the magnificent
Pacific is not too far away, neither is the rest of the mainland
Snowflakes astound me
Sledding is thrilling
Ferry boats
Giant pumpkins*
Forests of evergreen trees
"Natural" lifestyles
Transparent, honest people

For all the highlights of this land, it does have a few quirks. I'll only discuss one today. For reasons beyond my understanding, Pacific Northwesterners rarely tip their garage door technicians. Why? Possibly they are bitter about Oregon removing the citizen's right to pump one's own gas and in retaliation against the make work scheme have stopped tipping gas station workers and everyone else in society. Or maybe their father's never tipped garage door service technicians, so they just don't know any better.

In Hawaii, the Aloha spirit often translated into cans of soda, mangoes, bananas, and cash tips for husband. Alas, not here. You can imagine his suprise when this Christmas season, a customer offered him a bottle of water and a cash tip. Husband hardly knew what to say, so great was his shock. Maybe these Washingtonians were generous after all. Maybe times were just tight this year, what with the economy jazz and all that. Maybe Northwesterners were generous mostly at Christmas time. As he was leaving, he noticed the handpainted sign above their front door:
"Please remove your shoes before entering. Mahalo."

*If you are ever given a giant pumpkin... just say "No". Do not attempt to cut it in half, fit it in your oven, realize it's a giant pumpkin (duh) and won't fit, spend 2.5 hours slicing it, boil it, mash it by hand, realize pumpkins are stringy, blend it painful batch by batch in your 16 oz blender, and boil in more to make something no one has ever heard of for Christmas gifts (pumpkin butter), can it, then realize that's not a good idea due to the pH of squashed pumpkin (did I say that? I meant pureed pumpkin), then place numerous jars of boiled, blended, cinnamon-ed, "canned", pumpkin in your refrigerator, limiting the number of groceries that will fit in your refrigerator during the months of November and December.