Saturday, December 29, 2007

bring on the new year!

I developed the blood clot in late June. So basically, I spent half of 2007 dealing with a serious health issue. To say it's been a struggle would not be an overstatement. I tried not to whine about it too much, but hey...I'm only human.


Whoo fucking hooo! The doc says I can stop taking the anticoagulant. I have to confess that I stopped taking it last night in anticipation of what I hoped she would say.

It hasn't helped my self-esteem much that one side effect of the anticoagulant was bleeding joints. It has kept me from regular visits to the gym, and even my attempts at daily walking were curtailed in November when my right hip and knee simply wouldn't cooperate and the pain became near intolerable.

Over the five months on the med, I gained about ten pounds. That may not sound like much, but it became one clothing size, which was quite disheartening considering my efforts at weight loss.

But Tuesday is a new year, and one that will be accompanied by healthier eating and some serious working out, anticoagulants! I have two smaller sizes of clothing packed in plastic containers under my bed to get back into, and I'll take no prisoners on my way.

Only one dim side to this -- I had to stop taking birth control pills, and I won't be able to take them again. The risk of another clot would be too great. Heck, who's to say that they didn't in some way contribute to the current former clot? So anyone that is worthy of my attentions in 2008 had better be prepared to live in condoms until I am well past menopause. Hey, I'm just sayin'. ;)

So, cross your fingers all, that once the anticoagulant leaves my system, the clot is gone as well.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

whoo hoo, new music!

So I made a trip to the library for new music. Gotta love getting good tunes for free. I have to start taking my mp3 with me though, as four of the cd's I picked are already on my 'puter.

But, new ones:

Robert Johnson, the Gold Collection
John Lee Hooker, the Millenium Collection
Miles Davis, the Essential Plus
Jimi Hendrix, the Millenium Collection Smash Hits
Chick Corea, Akoustic Band
Ella Fitzgerald, the Best Of
Diana Krall, When I Look In Your Eyes

Yes, it was very blues and jazz focused this time. I'll probably go again Saturday before the doc appointment and switch these for some good old rock and roll.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

smoke your marijuanukkah

So today I went with rugrat to pick up her boyfriend at the hospital. Well, at the bus stop a mile away from the hospital.

He broke a tooth about a year ago, badly enough that he was able to pull part of the tooth out himself. He hasn't been to the dentist (no insurance), and it's been causing him pain off and on ever since. It was so bad this morning that he got a ride to the hospital, where they gave him oxycodone, ibuprofen, a serious antibiotic -- and instructions to get the damned thing pulled.

After taking the oxycodone, he felt better and walked a mile to a bus stop that would take him home -- forgetting that today is christmas, and the bus is on a holiday schedule. By this point, the nausea that sometimes accompanies oxycodone and strong antibiotics has sunk in and he is utterly miserable. Rugrat had tried to call him a few times and he wasn't picking up, so when he finally called her back, she came to me to ask me to please pick him up.

We brought him home with us so that he could sleep off the pain med in peace and quiet (he has two brothers at home). When he woke up, I fed him ginger ale and cream of wheat and eggs to ease his nausea so he could take his antibiotic and pain med later in the day (his mom worked all day, but I don't get the feeling that she's a particularly nurturing sort). His brother finally came and picked him up at 11:30.

Tomorrow first thing, his mom is dropping him, on her way to work, by a dental clinic for low-income people to get the tooth pulled. He planned to take the damned bus home afterward, but I nixed that. No way he's getting on a bus after getting a nasty-assed, infected tooth pulled. So I get to pick him up tomorrow AM and bring him home so he can sleep of the meds in peace and quiet (again, the brothers) while rugrat is at work and I putter around the apartment.

It's a good thing I really like her boyfriend, isn't it.

Leaving you with one of my all-time favorite holiday songs: Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song.

Oh yeah...whatcha think about the new look?

Monday, December 24, 2007

holidays, schmolidays

I've never been much for the christmas holidays. In fact, if I didn't have the rugrat at home, I probably wouldn't even have put up the tree this year. But I did. And rugrat put the ornaments on.

And since rugrat's boyfriend couldn't come over on christmas day, and she wouldn't leave her mami all alone, he came over on christmas eve day and I made my homemade enchiladas. We'll heat leftovers tomorrow, but I'll make flan for dessert too.

Of course, life is boring around here, and she took off earlier for her bf's house and won't be back till midnight. So I sit here alone on christmas eve. Which I have no doubt will be the story of my life once she moves out.

She'll be with her bf on new year's eve as well, spending the night with his family. And so I suppose my plans will be to go to a movie. Or order a pizza and something on pay-per-view. Now that's excitement!

Friday, December 21, 2007

working without a safety net car

Getting around without the car is fine when you can hop a train for the city. It's a bit more complicated when I'm hanging out at home.

The bloodwork on my calendar today meant a bus ride to/from the lab, on an empty stomach (it was a fasting test).

Then I stopped in the village to buy a second gift for the mother figure, 'cause I didn't think that a framed photo of rugrat's senior picture would satisfy her. And gawd knows I will bend over backward to satisfy her till the day she dies, to avoid the verbal fallout of not making her happy.

Then a stop at the post office to get a box to mail her gifts. The frame is 16x20, which requires a large box. Cause they can't seem to make a box larger wide and long without also making it freakin' huge in depth/height.

Then a stop at the deli for their $2 ham sandwich and a walk back home to finally eat.

After eating I found plastic carry bags big enough to take rugrat one's and the mother's packed boxes of christmas gifts and carried them back into town to the post office. They were heavier than I'd thought they would be. I could feel my arms and shoulders straining toward the end of the walk.

At the p.o., I had a minor accident lifting a box up to the counter that separated the nail of one finger from the nail bed. This entailed some minor bleeding. And remember, I'm on anticoagulants. So I'm trying to conduct business while ignoring the slowly seeping blood under the nail of my middle finger on my right hand.

Rugrat one's box was heavy (gifts for him, his wife, his stepson) and it cost $29 big ones to mail priority (so they'd get it by christmas). Then the mother's box. It was oversized, so they said there'd be an additional charge to send it priority. Meaning $30, despite the fact that it was less than half the weight of rugrat's box.

What, I almost shouted. You mean the box that you helped me buy an hour ago, knowing I wanted to send it priority? You didn't tell me when I spent $3.50 on the box that it would cost so much to send priority. Nah, that would actually have been helpful. So I had to send it regular mail, which means she won't get it for christmas, which means I get to listen to her complain when we talk on christmas day.

As this was happening, I shifted my body slightly which moved my boot, and I heard a crunch. I looked down, and the Zen earphones that I thought I'd tucked into my coat pocket were lying on the ground -- one of them under my boot. Yes, it's crunched, but it still plays sound, so I'll look for some superglue to put it back together.

After spending $53 to mail christmas gifts, I made my way to the grocery store to pick up a few necessities (still on foot). Then I carried the lot (gallon of milk, half dozen cans, mini-marshmallows, the cilantro that was highway fucking robbery at $2.59/bunch) home on the aqueduct trail. That would be an unpaved dirt trail that of course isn't shoveled, so the snow has melted to a solid sheet of ice.

Since I'm carrying a heavy bag and walking on ice, the strain on my hips to keep upright had me in a bit of pain by the time I got home.

Home to see that the mother's gift to us had arrived and been left by the postman between the door and the screen. I opened the box to discover that she had sent us candy. Candy from the diabetic who chooses not to control her food intake and is on medication, to the pre-diabetic who tries to control her food intake and get some exercise to stay off meds. How's that for an appropriate gift? And it wasn't her typical homemade candy either, it was cheap storebought stuff that I could have picked up myself if I'd wanted it in the damned house in the first place.

And instead of putting the candy in a plastic container to keep it fresh, she had put it on a flimsy christmas tray and covered it with a stack of paper towels, taping the paper towels to the tray underneath. So the candy not only fell loose all over in the box, it wasn't particularly fresh, and the paper towels were stuck to the candy in some spots.

Oh, and two more textbooks arrived in the mail today as well...both unsolicited. Guess I'd better get used to being bombarded with new textbooks every time I turn around.

Did nothing at all on the MFD.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with a heating pad on my right hip to ease the pain. Damn I hope I can stop taking this med soon.

I've posted this song before, but it has quickly become one of my very favorites. John Lee Hooker's Chill Out, with Santana on guitar. I played it through most of my walking today, over and over. Music doesn't get any better than Hooker and Santana.

Here's another one of them both. I don't have the recording of this one. It's good, but not as good as Chill Out.

OMG, and there's one with Hooker, Eric Clapton, and the Stones. Whooeee! Embedding has been disable for that one, so click here to see it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

stillness of heart

Grades were electronically input tuesday evening at 6 pm. I've already had one email from a student who insists that she turned in an assignment that I know damned good and well she didn't. Since she did not produce a copy of said assignment at any point during the semester to support her claim, I believe the grade I gave her was fair.

My first day off. What to do, what to do.

I slept in.

Washed some dishes.

It was cold in the apartment, so I cuddled back into bed and turned on the electric mattress pad.

Slept a bit more.

Ate some cocoa krispies.

Finished cleaning the apartment.

Showered etc.

Went down to storage to get the christmas decorations and tree (yeah, it's a fake...the asthma, you know).

Put up said tree but waited on decorations so rugrat could do that tomorrow.

Made a casserole for dinner.

Paid a bill.

Checked all my email accounts.

Slummed Puttered around alt till the the idiocy got to me.

Finally opened that corona I bought the night of the 'puter crash at work.

Searched the internet for a secondary text for one of my courses and ordered one to read next week (I can't seem to get completely away from work).

Made an appointment for the doc for next week to see about getting off the anticoagulants so I can start working out again.

Background music for today courtesy of Lenny Kravitz.

I'm out here on the street
There's no one left to meet
The things that were so sweet
No longer move my feet
But I keep trying
I keep on trying

All that I want is
Stillness of heart
So I can start
To find my way
Out of the dark
And into your heart

I got more than I can eat
A life that can't be beat
Yet still I feel this heat
I'm feeling incomplete
What am I buying?
My soul is crying

All that I want is
Stillness of heart
So I can start
To find my way
Out of the dark
And into your heart

Where is the love?
What is this world we live in?
Where is the love ?
We've got to be more giving
Where is the love ?
What happened to forgiving ?
Anyone ?

All that I want is
Stillness of heart
So I can start
To find my way
Out of the dark
And into your heart

Monday, December 17, 2007

dance me outside

Last week I strolled into grand central to the sound of tchaikovsky's nutcracker. During the holidays, they do a light/music show every half hour in the evening, and I manage to hit the timing right fairly often. You can't help but feel happier at the end of the day with music and lights in a building as beautiful as the main room of gct.

Walking in last week and hearing the music for the first time reminded me of an annual event for rugrat and I -- until we moved to ny and could no longer afford the nutcracker.

In spokane back then the nutcracker was affordable -- about 20 bucks for me, and a child's rate was available for the rr. They had the alberta ballet co. come down, and spokane's symphony orchestra is nothing to sneeze at -- it's pretty damned fine. And so once a year a magical night was had by the two of us. Until our first year in ny, when we discovered just how pricy tickets were (now they are roughly $100/per for decent seats).

I happen to have a recording of tchaikovsky's nutcracker done by the london symphony orchestra on my zen, so I put it on and have been listening to it off and on (more on than off) since. My favorite song should be no surprise -- the pas de deux (you know...the pas de deux). When the orchestra hits those crescendos, and she leaps into his arms, it really makes my eyes go all teary.

I found this version on youtube:

I also found this -- not the pas de deux, but damn, look how good they are together. It literally looks as though he is guiding her every move with some invisible I-don't-know-what. She's like a puppet in his hands. It's rudolph nureyev, but I don't know who she is:

(dance me outside)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I saw a man die tonight

In the subway tunnel.

Or maybe he was already dead when I happened upon the scene. How do you know when someone's last breath escapes their body?

The story from early onlookers is that this man sat down on one of those locker type things in a corner just inside the entrance to the 2/3 at Chambers Street. He carried a bouquet of flowers, and setting them down, he reached into his pocket and pulled out an inhaler.

But he waited too long, and before he could inhale, he passed out and hit his head -- hard -- on the edge of the locker on his way to meet the pavement.

People were afraid to touch him in case he'd damaged his neck in the fall, so at first, no one did anything but just watch him and tell metro staff to call 911.

Twenty minutes or more went by, and no emergency personnel arrived, so people began CPR. One doing chest compressions, one breathing, and one holding his head/neck as still as possible.

That's when I came down, saw the crowd, got the story, and asked if the woman doing compressions needed a break. I figured I could take over for her if she were tired. But they'd just started really, so she was fine. So I did the next best thing and backed off and out of their way.

And I watched them keep up the CPR for another ten minutes or so, waiting for emergency personnel. Two cops finally arrived, and that's when we discovered that either someone called the location in wrong, or dispatch got it wrong. Cause they were at Chambers Street, but on the J line. Right street, wrong subway. When they couldn't find the emergency, they had called off the search.

Then the EMTs arrived and took over. While the cops busied themselves putting up police tape to keep the subway goers from stumbling into the way, the EMTs pulled out and used a portable shocker, I believe. The IV followed. Intubation. And compressions all the while. They worked on him for a good half hour, and the whole time I kept hearing 'check his pulse.'

But no one ever said 'I've got a pulse.'

It wasn't all clean and white and antiseptic like on the telly. It was a dark corner in a dank, wet subway tunnel. He lay on cold, hard concrete, with ice water from the freezing rain trickling down through the ceiling and under his body. His body had remained perfectly still the entire time, other than the manipulations of the emergency personnel. He lay there dying among complete strangers. He wasn't an old man, perhaps mid-50s.

I think they were just keeping it going until the ambulance got there for transport. I know they prefer to pronounce DOA at the hospital as opposed to at the scene.

They finally slid him onto the backboard to carry him up to the waiting ambulance. And I looked over at the empty spot that had just been occupied by one dying man and a dozen various police and emergency people. Over at the big, beautiful bouquet of red roses still lying on top of that locker box he had used as a bench.

He wouldn't be bringing that bunch of roses to anyone now. He wouldn't be coming home at all. Eleven days till christmas. And he would never come home again.

And then I headed down the stairs to catch the subway. People bustling from the local to the express crowded the platform, none with any idea what had just happened above them. None but me.

One could ask why, if it bothered me so much, did I stand there watching through it all.

Good question.

I suppose I stood there because I so badly wanted to see things turn out better. I wanted to know that when they took him away, it was because he would make it home to give those flowers to the one they were meant for.

I wanted to hear someone say

I've got a pulse!

Like on tv. The christmas miracle and all.

I waited for it. But it never came.

And then I remembered.

This wasn't tv.

It was life.

Or more accurately, death.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

this is not hollywood like I understood

So, it was the hard drive. Shot to fucking hell. It will be another three days before the new hard drive arrives and they can install it. In the meantime, I am writing with pen and pad, and trying to check emails at home. I mean, can you imagine the week before finals, and no office computer??!?!! I'll take my on-its-last-legs laptop in to the office with me tomorrow and try to finish my work for the week.

Things aren't helped by a return of the bloody week from hell. I started the semester bleeding nearly to death, and it appears I shall go out with the same bang. I am sorely tempted to just stop taking the anticoagulants right now, but I'm too fucking scared that the clot is still there. I keep telling myself 'soon...hang in there.'

My sections for next semester are full and still students are trying to get in. But it seems some of the students' flocking to me had more to do with my not knowing what was allowed in terms of sticking to my guns about absences and late assignments. They think me an easy, pushover prof. But that's ok, 'cause next semester all those students who signed up for my classes thinking it'd be a cake walk will have a very rude awakening.

Still on my Cranberries kick. This is Hollywood, from To the Faithfully Departed:

Sunday, December 09, 2007

and the daffodils look lovely today

I spent this last week working hard to get a little bit ahead. Wrote the final exams, read all the last minute papers, recorded grades. Then on Friday, I devoted most of the day to working on that new syllabus for next semester. The one that I was doing in conjunction with the faculty development workshops. All faculty in the workshop are supposed to submit their syllabus to the group next Friday for critique.

At 4:30 pm, all fucking hell broke loose in my work life when the computer crashed. See, I back up my work every Friday when I leave for the day. That means that at 4:30, I was oh, about an hour away from backup for the week. And the computer froze completely. Nothing worked, so I turned it off and then rebooted. And it cycled through boot to crash, boot to crash, endlessly.

The department secretary called the IT people, who said they'd send someone up. Then she told me that our computers were refurbished things, that recently the mother board had gone out on several of them, including hers, and that what I was describing sounded just like what happened to hers. Good to know. Perhaps someone could have told me that when I fucking started in August. If I'd known, I would've backed up my work daily rather than weekly.

This seemed to be the end of my ability to smile and take things in stride. I went back to my office, broke down, and cried like a damned baby. I'd tried so hard all semester to be positive no matter how stressful things were. And as much as I love my job, things have been crazy this semester. But I kept it together, kept going. Even my office mate said once recently 'You always have a smile on your face, no matter how stressed out you are.' I tried. I really did.

So the secretary left at 5 as usual, and I stayed in my office waiting for the tech. At 5:15, I pulled myself together and called the helpdesk to ask how much longer the wait would be. And was told that yes, my request had emergency status, but unfortunately, the tech had just left for the day. Before coming up to help me. He would continue the emergency status for the night tech, but the night tech was 'in the field' right at the moment and so he couldn't give me an estimate of when he'd be available.

I asked if I had to wait for the tech, and he said no, as long as the secretary was there to let the tech in my office (they don't have keys) it would be fine. Well, I said, of course the department is closed and the secretary gone for the day, it's 5:30 on a Friday, so I guess that means I'll wait till the tech gets here.

At 7:15, I made several calls to the help desk that went unanswered, so I left a messaage. At 8 pm, I called the college operator to explain the situation and ask if there were any other extension I could call to reach the tech. She informed me that the help desk was closed and they'd left for the day. There were night techs, but not at the help desk. She would ask them about my problem and call me back.

Well, the night tech claims not to have received the message about my emergency situation and wasn't coming. Seems no one gave a fucking damn that I was sitting alone in my office on the sixth floor, waiting. I thanked the operator for calling me back. And then I broke down and cried again.

This time it wasn't the stress, it was frustration over waiting for so long, and no one giving a fuck that I waited. I simply couldn't believe they would do that to me. I had lunch at 11 that morning, so I was, in addition to being completely freaked out about the loss of work, damned hungry to boot.

I pulled myself together for a second time that evening and headed for the subway and train, not even knowing if my work on the hard drive for this week was salvagable or if I'd spend next week recreating everything -- which will set me back a hell of a lot.

I wanted a beer, badly. I put my calming music on my Zen, first Legends of the Fall, then Tchaikovsky, but neither was doing it for me. I needed my Cranberries. And the Daffodil Lament.

I stopped by the deli in my village to pick up a Corona, realized I had eat nothing, bought a sandwich and soda, and made it home about 10:30. Of course, after eating, I didn't want the Corona, so it sits in my fridge for now.

This is a live version of Daffodil Lament:


Saturday, December 01, 2007

the final countdown, or how could it possibly get any better than this

We are in the final countdown to finals week. Ten days of class, and then two days of finals for my courses.

Today I had a student come in to my office (several actually, but I'm only talking about one here). I had to re-advise him for registration for spring, as there was a problem with a math course. I told him to let me know if he had any more problems trying to register. An hour or two later, I had the following email message in my inbox:

"Thank-you so much for your help in selecting my spring classes, everything went well and i look forward on being your student once again. I know an execellent professor when i see one, such as yourself. Your methods of teaching are of very good standards and i will let my fellow human services student know."

As a certain blogger once said, "It doesn't suck to be me."

Despite the countdown to the end, I'm already looking at some small 'fun' books to complement the text books for next semester. You know, something that fits with the text content but is more inviting to read than a text book. Something that they can compare/contrast with the text and discuss in a final reflection paper. And since there is now a Barnes and Noble right around the damned corner from campus (how cool is that), I shopped tonight after work to find just the right books.

The introductory course will read the Delaney sisters book 'Having Our Say.'

The two interpersonal skills courses will read Torey Hayden's 'One Child.'

The policy course will read Bell Hooks' 'Where We Stand: Class Matters.' And I already started reading this one tonight, couldn't put it down.

I've moved from Legends of the Fall for my cool down on the train to Celtic Woman. Actually, I listen to it most of the time when I'm not doing the walk/work out. It's an incredible CD.

But it includes what I consider to be about the most beautiful song of all time: Ave Maria. I'm not even religious, but I have always thought it an incredible song. And Celtic Woman's version is the most pure of all the versions I've heard. And I found it on youtube and couldn't help but put it here. It sounds just like how I have felt lately. Serene.