Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Double-Shot Of Saturday Adventures.

Today's rainy and we're going to move the Saturday Adventure for this week to tomorrow, which gives me time to get caught up on the last two Saturday Adventures:

Adventure One: Helping Oldest Move To Her New Apartment.

Two Saturdays ago, the jobs of the day were to help Oldest move, and to pick up some supplies to transfer the two remaining cats, Scruffy and Stormy, to Oldest's apartment (since we no longer wanted cats around, for cat-scented reasons.) I began the day by simply driving the truck; one benefit of nearly dying all the time is that I get a free pass on "Carrying Stuff Into People's Houses." So while Oldest and The Boy and some of Oldest's friends, including the Never-Do-Well Boyfriend, moved her, I sat in the truck and read the latest issue of The New Yorker.

I wasn't totally unhelpful; I also guarded Oldest's purse, and, as part of my official duties, I also was tasked with "making sure that Oldest didn't throw away Sweetie's storage bins." I failed miserably at that job -- I forgot to watch them, and Oldest threw them out.

But, undaunted, later that day when the moving was done (she really didn't have that much stuff) I did the second part, which was to bravely take Mr Bunches and Mr F to Wal-Mart to get some new cat stuff for Oldest to use in her apartment, and also to try to find "hand sanitizer," which I was asked to buy for Oldest, the theory apparently being "He's going to the store, so he should buy me some stuff that otherwise I'd have to get myself." I tried to look at it as a housewarming present.

Most of the day, I didn't have my camera with me, but I did take it on the Wal-Mart trip (what's more scenic than a Wal-Mart?) and I did get some shots of the trip over and the actual apartment...

Here's Mr F, waiting for me to look through all the bins to see where the hand sanitizer is, and hoping he can convince me to buy him the Fisher Price barn he's holding. (He didn't convince me, because (a) it was $25 and (b) they already have one at home.)

Here's Mr Bunches, killing time while I let Mr F pick out a different toy:

Then, Sweetie and the Babies! and I took all the stuff, and Scruffy and Stormy, over to Oldest's house. Sweetie snapped this shot:

At Oldest's, we picked up The Boy (who was helping her unpack), looked around, hooked up the DVD player and headed on out. Nobody was this blurry in real life, though:

Then, this week, it was on to Adventure: The Big Playground At The Zoo!

We chose this for the Babies!' big birthday celebration, in lieu of a party. Mr F and Mr Bunches turned 4 last week, and we figured a party is no good because they don't like parties and we don't like parties, and all the relatives that we know who do like parties can just go have a party themselves, because we were going to the zoo.

This was the second time we went to the zoo. While I don't like to repeat adventures, the zoo is always worth a trip there, but more importantly, the first time we'd gone, the big playground had been closed. (What closes a playground? It's not like the slides weren't operating. So far as I know, gravity had been turned on that day.)

We didn't just go to the playground: With The Boy and Middle (Oldest was working) we fed the goats:

We fed the goats very hesitantly, that is. And Mr F didn't feed them at all; I had to hold him while he hid behind my head. Mr F is not a fan of goats.

We also toured the monkey house, saw the lions up close, struggled to keep Mr F from climbing into swim with the sea lion (he doesn't like goats, but sea lions, he's okay with) and finally made it to the Big Playground, home to a net bridge:

That crosses from the little slides to the Big Slide, a two-story high slide that's only accessible through a net-like maze. Mr Bunches ran up there, and while I tried to follow him, he got up into the highest slide, went down, and came back around; that picture above is him coming up for a second-go-round, while I tried to find him the first time. (He snuck up on me.)

Meanwhile, The Boy chaperoned Mr F, who doesn't like slides any more than he likes goats. We traded, and I let The Boy tried to keep tabs on a hyper Mr Bunches, while I walked Mr F around the more-his-pace children's zoo enclosures, where we thrilled to the sights of a sleepy porcupine, some red pandas, and a cockatoo, and where I snapped this arty self-portrait:

Eventually, I got Mr F to go down the tube slide with me, going once together, and then once by himself:

And then together again. He seemed to like it, in a nonchalant sort of way:

The day finished up with dinner at McDonald's, and the playland, and watching their new movie, ET in their room.

Friday, September 10, 2010

She was as safe as the bridge over the Mississippi at Burlington. (Friday's Sunday's Poem/Hot Actress 62)

Caboose Thoughts
by Carl Sandburg

It's going to come out all right—do you know?
The sun, the birds, the grass—they know.
They get along—and we’ll get along.

Some days will be rainy and you will sit waiting
And the letter you wait for won’t come,
And I will sit watching the sky tear off gray and gray
And the letter I wait for won’t come.

There will be ac-ci-dents.
I know ac-ci-dents are coming.
Smash-ups, signals wrong, washouts, trestles rotten,
Red and yellow ac-ci-dents.
But somehow and somewhere the end of the run
The train gets put together again
And the caboose and the green tail lights
Fade down the right of way like a new white hope.

I never heard a mockingbird in Kentucky
Spilling its heart in the morning.

I never saw the snow on Chimborazo.
It’s a high white Mexican hat, I hear.

I never had supper with Abe Lincoln.
Nor a dish of soup with Jim Hill.

But I’ve been around.
I know some of the boys here who can go a little.
I know girls good for a burst of speed any time.

I heard Williams and Walker
Before Walker died in the bughouse.

I knew a mandolin player
Working in a barber shop in an Indiana town,
And he thought he had a million dollars.

I knew a hotel girl in Des Moines.
She had eyes; I saw her and said to myself
The sun rises and the sun sets in her eyes.
I was her steady and her heart went pit-a-pat.
We took away the money for a prize waltz at a
Brotherhood dance.
She had eyes; she was safe as the bridge over the
Mississippi at Burlington; I married her.

Last summer we took the cushions going west.
Pike’s Peak is a big old stone, believe me.
It’s fastened down; something you can count on.

It’s going to come out all right—do you know?
The sun, the birds, the grass—they know.
They get along—and we’ll get along.
About The Poem: Did you know I can spell Mississippi backwards? I can say the alphabet backwards, too. I'm a man of many talents, and one of them is deciding to read a poem based on the title, and then liking it. I not afraid to judge a book by its cover, either.

About the Hot Actress: I asked Sweetie to name someone, and she named "Connie Britton." When I asked why, Sweetie said "She's on Friday Night Lights," which should disqualify her, but then went on to add "When they send out the Emmy gowns, they send them out in sizes 1 and 2 and she said she can't fit into that size." So she's striking a blow for size-ism. Or something.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

It Was Mr Bunches' First Day At School!

I took the day off today to celebrate a momentous occasion: Mr Bunches started preschool.

Here he is moments after I belted him into his seat on the bus:
His teacher (on the bus with him) said that after a few moments he got over being sad and instead began pointing out the sights along the way.

And, a few hours later, fresh from snacks and finger-painting and trying to (according to the teacher) move the activity timers ahead so he could go on to the next thing, he got back off the bus, full of vim and vigor:

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I think I set a World Record For Almost-Dying: Part Eight: Is this ALMOST OVER?

I almost died twice in one week. This is part eight of that story.


Part 1.

Part 2.
Part 3.

Part 4.
Part 5.
Part 6.
Part 7.

I laid there in the Emergency Room a little more, having taken the nexium and tried to sleep, but sleeping wasn't really possible. Instead, I drifted -- I wasn't really aware of what was going on around me, but I wasn't asleep, either, and I kept opening my eyes to look at the clock that was just barely visible out in the central ER area, where doctors and nurses and people who looked like doctors and nurses but probably weren't, because how many doctors and nurses can there be in one area? milled around. It was the least urgent I've ever seen that emergency room be, and I've seen that emergency room a surprising amount of times in my life -- mostly, up until the week of almost dying, for other people.

It's way worse to be the person who needs the ER. Time wasn't moving and I wasn't either. Around 11:30, I sat up and tried to talk to Sweetie a bit. My head spun around and I felt heavy and tired. Even my feet seemed to weigh more as I rubbed at my face and talked to her. I said:

"I don't know exactly what this is, but it's not heartburn."

I was right.

Unlike Jeff.

A while later - -it seemed like forever and then some -- they came to take me up to the stress test. They'd drawn more blood, to see if whatever enzymes that announce a heart attack had appeared. The earlier tests had been negative -- the blood they'd drawn at 8 or so hadn't shown any of the chemicals the heart gives off when it's having an attack, so I can't be too critical of Jeff, I suppose, and I try not to be.

The orderly, or whatever they call them now, came in with a wheelchair and I got in, feeling too tired to really be embarrassed at being wheeled around, and still aching in weird places - -my jaw, my sternum, and places like that. The orderly talked to me and Sweetie as though were were there for nothing much at all, joking around, and a part of me resented that. I wanted to say to him, too, I'm not sure what this is, but it's serious.

I don't know what's in a medical chart, what notes doctors make and what they tell each other in those little boxes they're always checking and filling out. But I'd like there to be a box that says something like "This guy is not a pup and doesn't come to the doctor unnecessarily." Because that's true. I've faced every illness I've had, real or imagined, with a stoic bravery that brings tears to my eyes when I think about how calm and steadfast I am and how inspirational my examples are.

So, yes, I used to google my symptoms whenever I got some sniffles, or a pimple in a weird place, or a kind of ache in my torso that upon investigation was almost certainly an inflammation of some organ or other, probably caused by an exotic virus that was inoperable and all I could do was soldier bravely on and try to show others how to face adversity. But the thing that doctors should know about me is not that on three separate occasions I've been pretty sure I had Fatal Brain Cloud, but that I never went to the doctor for them.

I never go to the doctor if I can help it. That used to be because I was a smoker, and if you go to the doctor as a smoker, you don't really get any help. They'll ask you if you smoke, and then blame it on that. Seriously: I went once with a knee problem, the problem being that when I bent my knee I had an excruciating amount of pain and couldn't sit in a car. The doctor asked me if I smoked, and I said "Yes," and he said "Don't you think you should quit?" When I agreed that I should probably quit, he said "It's not helping your knee, that's for sure." That's another reason why we lie to you, doctors: because you blame everything on our bad habits. If a woman who has high cholesterol showed up pregnant in your office, 99.9% of all doctors would insinuate that the pregnancy was partially due to eating fried foods.

But even after I quit smoking, I didn't go to the doctor, because, as I said, I'm not a pup. I go to a doctor only when absolutely 100% necessary (or, now, when Sweetie makes me, as I've ceded control of my doctor visits to her.) And "100% necessary" is a high burden. If I can walk and talk or engage in about 1% of the things I need to do that day, I'm not going to the doctor.

That's what I want in my chart, so you doctors reading this, take note: If I've appeared in front of you, it's because I've become completely unable to function. I'm not there because I stubbed a toe or have a headache. Whatever else you see during your day, when I appear in front of you, you'd better get the life support nanobots ready, 'cause I need those.

Here's what I've gone to the doctor for in my life: Knee problems that prevented me from walking. A broken neck. A slipped disk that required surgery. Anaphylactic shock. And that Friday morning.

That's what I wanted to tell the orderly, and that's what I wanted to tell the really really pregnant lady who was supervising me for the stress test when I went in there: This is something serious. I also wanted to tell the pregnant lady that I had wanted to congratulate her on being pregnant, as she pretty obviously was, but that I hadn't congratulated her on being pregnant because you never know these days, do you? And I live in fear of a thousand tiny things. I don't fear death, or unemployment, or pain, or loneliness. No, I fear accidentally complimenting someone who's not really pregnant. I fear things like that - -social interactions gone awry and making me do whatever a stress test is in front of someone who, in my attempt to be nice, I'd just called fat.

So when I met the stress test lady, I didn't congratulate her on being pregnant, and then I felt impolite and bad about that because nearly-dying or not, I felt that I should be polite and I didn't want any bad karma haunting me as I went through the rest of this day.

That's what I was thinking about as she was explaining the stress test to me, how she'd have to shave off a bunch of hair on my chest and put pads on it and I'd walk on the treadmill: I was thinking Should I tell her congratulations, or not? And mixed in was my also thinking how I wanted her to know I was not the kind of person who comes to the doctor for just anything, because she's opened the conversation with something like "So they think you maybe had a heart attack?" and that sounded a little dismissive to me.

And I wanted to say, too, "What did the second blood test say?"

But before I could do that, the lady mentioned that she was expecting and I got a chance to congratulate her, and then a nurse walked in, too, and the two of them began talking about how they hadn't seen each other in a long time, which it turned out was because the nurse had just gotten back from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. I listened to them, electroded up, until the nurse turned to me and looked down at my feet and said: "What are those?"

"They're Crocs," I said. I'd put on my blue Crocs that morning, because in an emergency, who has time to go and get their tennis shoes out from underneath the pile of folded clothes that they've been meaning to put away all week, but they didn't get around to it, which should be understandable, because that week, at least, the person who'd been meaning to get around to putting away his clothes had been stung by a lot of bees and was now in the ER for the second time in six days, and if that's not an excuse to not have done some household chores, what is?

"Can you walk in them?" the nurse asked me.

"Sure," I said.

"Can you jog in them?" she asked. "You might have to move pretty fast, almost jogging, on the test."

I was ready to explain that I've worn my Crocs while taking Mr F and Mr Bunches to the park, and that on some occasions they've opted to go running off, in opposite directions, both towards busy roads, forcing me to run after one, grab him, and carry him like a football while I run after the other and grab him, so, yes, I can run in these, really well, but that seemed like a lot of words and I was fading a bit, getting more dizzy and the left side of my face hurt, so I said

"Yeah," and looked hopeful.

The nurse started talking with the pregnant lady about whether I could do the test, and then, over a little communicator around her neck, I heard a voice say "Don't stress that patient in 6A."

I was the patient in 6A.

Next: Finally, Absolutely the last part of this story.