Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shredding Reflections

I'm going to bed in a minute, as in, putting my head on the pillow and putting the ear plugs in my ears and the mask over my eyes. Not just sitting on the bed with the comforter over my legs, pillows to my back, my laptop on my heavily pillowed...well...lap as I spend most of the time I'm home if I'm not cooking or doing laundry or soaking in the tub. Those are my favorite things to do, those four.

My bed is my home office, really. Oh, we have a "computer room" with a desk and, now, an art table and a daybed. Our desktop computer is in there and Freddy uses it to read the New York Times and New York Post, but that's about it. I prefer my bed and the printer that sits on top of Freddy's nightstand, it's cable snaked around the headboard to my side where I connect it, periodically when I need to print out a flyer, or something. So I don't use the desktop in the computer room, much. I quickly check my email in there, sometimes, while shredding the cereal boxes that the recycling Nazi won't accept, but that's about it.

Freddy takes the recycling stuff to the recycling place, which is a developmental center for mentally challenged people. I didn't think about that when I got the resentment.

It all goes back to when I was working full-time in the ER and trying to run a business on my "days off" and Freddy ate frozen dinners all the time. I mean all. the. time. (I especially like this putting a period after each, separate word to accentuate the statement-thing). So we had mountains of frozen dinner cardboard containers and lots of cereal boxes which I flattened like a good, green witch and stuffed into the box with the cardboard for the recycling center. That went alright for a while and then one day Freddy came home and said:

"You can't put the cardboard tv dinner boxes into the recycling, anymore."


"They won't take it."

"Why the hell not?" I asked.

"Because it's not considered cardboard".

"What? Since when?"

"I don't know. He just said, 'Tell your wife this is trash,' kinda grouchy."

"Well, what the fuck is cardboard, then?"

"I guess the corrugated stuff like big boxes are made out of."


Freddy didn't mention "developmentally delayed" man, he just said, "man" so I was just thinking "What an asshole," and immediately went about devising a plan to scam the recycling...person. Then it dawned on me. The shredder! I'd shred all that, what I know damn well is, cardboard and send it to the recycling center in the black, plastic bags along with the other shredded paper I always sent and the "tell your wife this is trash" horse's ass would be none the wiser. And that's what I've been doing for about 9 months. Every time I take a carton into the computer room and shred it I mentally thumb my nose at the "tell your wife this is trash" man. About 5 months ago it finally dawned on me.

"Hey, you know that guy at the recycling center?" I asked Freddy one day.

Blank stare. "What guy?" He always waits a while before admitting he doesn't know what I'm talking about out of fear of a scolding.

"The guy who told you the cardboard was trash and they wouldn't take it."

"Yeah?". He clearly didn't remember.

"Was he retarded?"

"Oh, that guy. Yeah, he was."

Shit. There went all the fun, almost. I found a way around it, though, by deciding to forget about it, pretending he was a supervisor of normal intelligence. Blocking the clarifying conversation with Freddy out of my mind and sharpening the mental image I have of the recycling Nazi and delighting in outsmarting him.

And I shred. Some of us especially need victories like this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sleepless in Lincoln

I feel like Holly Hunter in the movie, Home for the Holidays.

It started with spaghetti sauce. All our lives, our mother has made this wonderful spaghetti and meatballs. She gave me the recipe and I started making it myself when I first got married, the first time, back in 1975. It's delicious.

Mom is 82 and I don't know if her cooking was really good when we were growing up or if we just thought so because we didn't know the difference. But she's gotten, well, as older people do she's gotten lax, I guess you'd say. She cuts corners. Consequently, there aren't a lot of things she cooks the way she used to and we generally prefer eating out when we come up here to visit. But she asked me last weekend if I wanted anything special to eat while we were here, aside from the huge Thanksgiving meal we're cooking. I did still love her spaghetti sauce the last time I had it so I requested that, knowing it would make her feel good to treat us to something tasty and it not being especially difficult to prepare and we might save ourselves from at least one lecture on wasting money on fast food. It hasn't been spaghetti and meatballs for some years because, she says, the meatballs always break all up, anyway, so now she just uses hamburger in the sauce which didn't appear to make a big difference. Still, I wondered how the meatballs managed to stay together for 40 years, for the most part. But, as I said, last time it was okay so I figured it would be safe. I'm sad to report the spaghetti sauce has gone the way of all the other things she used to cook that were so good and that we looked so forward to.

She is, now, not only skimpy with her own cooking but while I read aloud a recipe I found on the internet today, having no intention of actually making it only delighting in reading about it, she interrupted with a dissertation on, "Why would you want something else to eat when we already have all this food?"etc. That's the whole point of going home. And the longer I'm here, the more I need to eat in order to tolerate the dysfunction. My mother is dwindling away, disintegrating into her sauce like her meatballs as we watch, helplessly.

There's that. And then there's my brother. And my daughter. And the cold. And the darkness. And now I can't sleep. We went to see Twilight tonight and I drank a huge Diet Pepsi which I almost never do since my banding. It was enough caffeine to keep me awake until, so far, 3:34am. And I seem to be having an exacerbation of the hot flashes that were subsiding since I started my Estridiol. If I were home I'd get in the tub and soak and watch an old movie on Turner Classic Movies (yes, there is a tv in the bathroom) but here, not only is there no tv in the bathroom but no bathtub. Only a shower, not that I'd actually get in a tub here. Not the cleanest environment, anymore. I'm pretty much miserable and I know that the grandsons will be trotting in here around 9 to wake me up. And by the time I wake their mother up I'll be wide awake, albeit tired and surly and then I have to bake pies and put together casseroles and do dishes and instruct the other members of the family on how to manage their lives. It's all quite exhausting. I can't wait to go home.

Isn't it strange how we all get in our own little worlds apart from our families? The older we get, the deeper into our own worlds we get. More comfortable and less tolerant of discomfort. Less anxious to subject ourselves to the insanity that is our family. God knows I have a good family. One of the best I know. But it's so damn noisy here and so many people and I've eaten all this sugar. I need medication this week, I really do. This would be a good time to start abusing Xanax.

I'll be glad to get home to my little self-absorbed life on Saturday and I probably won't be back for another holiday anytime soon. I'll have to forget some of this, first.

Oh, Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Of Fires, Hot Flashes & Bear Dookie

I woke up today feeling really good. No obligations, which is all I've ever asked from life, by the way, but it rarely works out. I called Freddy to have him pick up some Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane tea on his way home and then I sat up in bed and wrote in my journal. I planned to go out in the barn and built the first fire in that woodstove and build a soap mold today. It was cold and I've been day dreaming about that for some time. But Freddy showed up before he went shopping and I decided to go with him, needing to pick up my hormones and thinking I needed to give them my new insurance information. Wrong. Insurance doesn't cover compounded medications and I'm beginning to think I may know why. I go between freezing and sweating about 115 times in a 24 hour period since I started my new, compounded, bioidentical hormones for which I held such high hope. .

So we went shopping and I got the idea, as we were pushing the shopping cart to the truck, that a big bowl of tortilla soup would be nice. So we went to the Mexican restaurant and ate, me bitching the whole time about ignorant hillbillies and nonprofessional behavior (more hormone-related thought processes).

And here it comes again. A wave of heat traveling instantly from my knees to the top of my head in a mighty whoosh culminating with me feeling as though I could breath fire if I exhaled with my mouth open. Note to self: buy some dong quai and black cohash tomorrow after work.

After we ate, we decided to go out to our cabin, for the first time in a couple of months, just to make sure everything was okay. As soon as we got out there I had to start a fire in the pot belly stove. It was freezing and the wind was blowing and I couldn't resist. The cabin is strawbale construction, like our barn, and it heats up nicely and stays that way for a while without much of a fire. And that potbelly stove is a dandy. I keep a small basket full of try kindling, just leaves and handfuls of sticks, in there at all times. That way, even if it's raining or there's a foot of snow on the ground, I can still start a fire at the spur of the moment. And I always go gather up more before I leave, even if it's, as I said, wet or whatever because it'll dry long before I get back out there and need it, again. Freddy made a pot of decaf while I hauled 3 or 4 armloads of wood from the wood pile to the livingroom. We had it toasty warm in minutes and spent the next hour, or so, doing what we always do out there. Nothing. Sitting holding our mugs of coffee, staring at nothing like dope fiends in an opium den. About every 3 minutes, Freddy says, "God, I love this place," then falls silent again for a little while.

About the time we were thinking about leaving, I went up in the loft to see how warm it was up there and pretty soon had dug an old quilt out of the plastic bin we keep linens in up there to keep them safe from the mice, and spread it out on the bed and decided to take a nap. Freddy joined me and we dozed for a while. I got up toward the end and grabbed the old, afghan (my friend Carol's mom calls them, "Africans" as in "No wonder you're not cold, lying on the couch wrapped up in two Africans") off the railing and covered up as the fire was beginning to die down.

When we left for home, we saw a big pile of bear scat just down from the cabin in front of the pump house. It would've made a great picture, full of persimmon seeds but I was ill-prepared and didn't have my camera. I thought, after all, that we were only going to Walmart when I left home this morning.

I made 4 dozen, or so, peanut butter cookies when we got home and froze most of them for our Christmas party a month away. It's suppose to get down to 20-something tonight so I covered my lettuce with an old, blue tarp and then shut the flaps on the chicken house windows and rigged up a light in there to help keep the chickens (and doves and turkey) warm and encourage them to start laying, again. It's been a good day. We don't spend enough of them together. And tomorrow's ICU for 12 hours.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On My Way Back

I've been doing pretty well with the time change and subsequent impending exacerbation of SAD that I get every year until yesterday. And that's how it happens. I'm going along without any problem and BOOM! I get an unnerving sort of coldness in my stomach and I know it's time for my full spectrum light. I use it when I first start feeling the coldness. Once I start, I try to use it every day. If I go out of town, I bring the light. It's not negotiable. It makes a tremendous difference.

And in the meantime, I cook. Oh, and eat. Monday I did one massage and was home by 2. I cooked until 10pm. It was wonderful. I've been busy or out of town or working for several weeks, now. I'd gotten used to being home and was settling into this delicious slower pace before we went away for a week. When we got home there were three weeks of working basically a full-time schedule in ER. And then a lot of massages to do in the meantime. All that to say that I didn't have time to cook and I hated it, having had a really good taste of what it's like to be a real person who cooks in her own kitchen and does her own laundry and vacuums. So I made up for it yesterday.

I cooked stuffed grape leaves, homemade pita bread, hummus, kale with sausage and potatoes, bread pudding with lemon sauce and jalepeno jelly. Then last night I made miso soup. Oh God. Is that good. I never made/ate it before. And so easy. I got the miso this weekend when I was out of town.

This weekend was nice. I had no massages scheduled Friday so about 11:30 while talking on the phone to my friend, Bobbi, we decided it might be nice to drive up to Winslow, Arkansas on old Highway 71 and go to the Ozark Folkways. We packed an overnight bag in case we decided to stay at my daughter's in Springdale. I toasted homemade bread and scrambled eggs with Pecorino Romano cheese for our breakfast sandwiches and wrapped them in wax paper and we headed out. It was a beautiful day. We stopped to take pictures and gather leaves and pods for Bobbi to use in her artwork. The trees were magical. Brilliant. The sky, that deep blue you only see in Autumn. Breathtaking.

We spent about an hour at Ozark Folkways, before they closed, looking at art, Bobbi explaining how each thing was made and how we can do the same thing. She's such a delightful friend. So fun to spend time with.

We bought some stuff. Me, a couple of hand made pottery bowls and a bar of lye soap and she, a hand painted, lidded porcelain dish for my Christmas gift. So I came out like a bandit.

We went on to Springdale and spent the night with Amanda and family. Aidan graciously lent us his bed. I couldn't get over the feeling that I'd come to visit my daughter with my lesbian lover. Even better is the fact that the kids had little sores on their mouths and we were both kissing them. I told her we'd probably both come home with sores on our mouths after spending a weekend away together and everybody will think we caught them from each other. So far, so good, though.

We had a great visit with the kids. Matt made loaded baked potato pizza for supper. And appetizers while we waited: shrimp and cocktail sauce and 3 cheese garlic bread with marinara sauce. Man, was that good! Good food. Good company. Next morning Sis made apple cinnamon pancakes. Wow! Did we ever pick the right place to crash.

First stop Saturday morning was Hobby Lobby. Stayed there a long time. Then on to Ozark Natural Foods. We spent hours there poring through the bulk herbs and spice. It was a heavenly olfactory orgy. We bought lemongrass, dried elderberries, cumin, turmeric, curry, whole nutmeg, some other kind of orange Indian spice that I can't remember the name of. I bought miso and tahini and organic peanut butter and grape leaves and Sumatra coffee beans and I can't remember what all. Freddy's truck smelled like New Delhi on the way home. Sunday when I worked in ICU I brought along a newspaper I'd gotten on the trip and it smelled like spices. Yum!

We ate lunch at La Huerto on College. I had cheese enchiladas. After that we stopped at an intriguing line of shops on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. New Treasures where we bought bumper stickers that said things like, "Treehugger" and "Jesus was a Liberal". I bought some very ethnic-looking clothing and a long, tie-dyed jersey jumper. Next door was a bakery with chalk board menus and 24 inch breadsticks and huge slices of chocolate raspberry cake with 3/4 inch frosting. We had coffee and...well...chocolate cake.

Then the bead store. It made me want to learn to make jewelry. I bought two little silver hands with swirls in the palms and earring hooks to put them on. After that, on to the second hand retro clothing and costume shop where we bought nothing but a lady came up to Bobbi and complemented her on her lovely cheekbones.

On the way out of Fayetteville, we stopped at a purple building that looked like a castle where they do tattoos and piercings to ask about piercing my nose. I sort of chickened out but used the price for an excuse. I really should have done it, though. It woulda been great to cook using all those Indian spices with an earring in my nose and wearing my ethnic clothing. I'll have to make that a thing to do.

We stopped at Micheal's on Rogers on the way through Fort Smith and shopped for art supplies, some more. Nice stuff in there, though the lighting sucks. Bought a Fillet O' Fish sandwich that I ate on the way out of Fort Smith, sans the top of the bun.

So that's it, then. Wonderful 2 days. Made me want to live in Northwest Arkansas all over again having just gotten over that from our last trip to Eureka Springs. But I live here, I suppose, and I'll make the best of it. Not a bad thing, living here. Just not much here for open minds, I'm afraid.
Tonight I picked salad greens from the Mesclin Mix I
planted in October, though, and made this, which I ate for supper with some leftover grape leaves.

Before that, I walked around the pasture, twice, with Maggi. Then we fed the fish and sat at the end of the dock and thought, both of us, about how nice it's going to be with grandsons visiting, again. When the babies are here, I'm totally present in the moment. Completely at peace, albeit chaotic peace, but you know what I mean. The sun was setting and just lit up the tops of a tree near the neighbor's property line. It reminded me of a dream I had ten years ago about a lilac bush. It was comforting. I can feel myself slowing down, again. It feels good to be cooking.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Book...At Last!

I'm gonna write a book and I'm gonna title it, Life is Just a Bowel Full of Cherries. Right. Just like this blog. I've always known what the book was going to be called, just not exactly what it was going to be about. I knew it would be about nursing and patients but no particulars, until now. Today at work it dawned on me. Twenty years in nursing, ten in the ER and I've picked up on some things the general public needs in terms of education. So, I'm going to write a common sense-type of medical manual for the general public who are, I'm beginning to realize, completely insane.

The book will be a sort of filling-in of the average Joe on the street regarding little medical things that I thought pretty much everybody knew all their lives, like I did. For instance, there will be a chapter titled, "When To, and When Not to Call 911". Under When Not to will be a paragraph explaining that when you have a bowel movement that, how do I put it, let's say "stalls", you have a few options, none of which involve activating the emergency medical alert system. One option is to end the attempt by employment of the anal sphincter thereby "pinching off" the sluggish substance. Another option involves straining to expedite things. There is always the sit-and-wait option to see if anything changes. And until this week it never occurred to me to tell another human being that getting "stuck" halfway into a bowel movement was no reason to call 911 but I have since been enlightened.

In the same chapter I will explain that if you are in your 50's, in good enough shape to ride a motorcycle to the state park on the mountain and camp, there is no reason for you to call an ambulance because you haven't had a bowel movement for 3 days.. Moreover, if you do call an ambulance and you have a bowel movement just prior to the arrival of the ambulance, you certainly don't need to come on into the ER, anyway, despite the fact that you "don't want to get in that shape, again!". Eat some Raisen Bran, drink some coffee and take responsibility for you own GI tract.

The chapter on "Proper Medical Terminology for Novices" will include, You have blood clots. There is no such thing as blood "clods" or "clogs." And, you have fibroids in your uterus, not "fire balls in your euchrist".

Just because you have a boil on your filthy body doesn't mean you were bitten by a poisonous spider. You probably have an abscess and might want to think about bathing once in a while. In the event you were, indeed, bitten by a spider, it probably was a brown recluse, not a "brown glucose" spider.

When you came to the emergency room once in the past because you couldn't pass urine, you were catheterized, not castrated (at least, I don't think so. However, if it turns out that you were, I'd like the name of that hospital so I can go there and apply for a job).

Under miscellaneous, I'll explain that when you "feel hot one minute and freezing the next" and you're not menopausal, it's no big mystery. You have a fever. Who has not known this since age 5? They actually sell devices that enable you to make your own fever diagnosis at home. They're sold at Walmart and they're called "thermometers". What's more, you can actually take Tylenol or Motrin for a fever and determine the correct dosage yourself by reading the label. Again, having a fever for one hour is no reason to rush to the ER.

Same thing with throwing up. If you threw up an hour ago, you don't have an emergency and you can stay at home. If you do end up in the hospital, throwing up isn't going to kill you and you don't need to send a family member darting into the hall to summon a nurse to the room. A nurse is not going to keep you from throwing up, (which is, by the way pronounced "vomit", not "vomick"). Just throw up and wipe your mouth and lie back down on your stretcher. When the nurse or doctor do come into the room, turn your head when you breath or cough. Your breath smells like vomit. Nobody wants to smell it, not even public servants. And while on the subject, if you come to the ER vomiting, don't get mad when they won't give you a big glass of ice water to drink. I promise you, if you drink a glass of water, you're going to throw up again. It happens every time. Another point, it doesn't matter what you saw in your vomit. Just because you saw, say, carrots doesn't mean you got food poisoning from your mother-in-law's glazed carrots last Sunday. You threw up what was in your stomach. Your stomach does not isolate the one offending substance and throw up only that. It doesn't work that way. Furthermore, you needn't describe it to us as in, my personal favorite, "It was green and slimy". Of course it was. It came out of your stomach. It was vomit. There's bile in it. Bile is green. It's no mystery. And there are no scientists in the lab waiting to analyze your vomit so don't bring it to the hospital with you in a peanut butter jar.

Now for the chapter on Medical History. You may be allergic to sulfa, not "sulpher". It is called emphysema, not "the zee-mee". And it's a hiatal hernia, not a "high up hernie".

Leukemia is considered to be a health problem so if you have Leukemia and the triage nurse asks you if you have any health problems, you should probably mention it.
If you are missing a kidney, we need to know if it was surgically removed or you were born without it, or what. It's not helpful when you tell the nurse, "Honey, I don't have any idea what happened to it". We expect you to research this before you come to the hospital.

If you cut your hand opening a package of bologna with your pocket knife, don't expect general anesthesia during your suturing. You're going to get a local anesthetic and stay awake. Nobody's going to recover you for an hour while you come out from under. We need our lunch breaks, too, you know. You might want to explore why it is you want so badly to be put to sleep.

When you come to the ER, bring a list of your medicines with you. Despite what you think, the nurses don't have copies of your med list folded up in lockets around their necks. If you can't even keep up with your medications while taking them every day of your lives, how do you expect us to?

If a nurse or a lab tech has a needle in their hand getting ready to start an IV or draw blood, the chances of them being successful are much better if you don't first say to them, "You have one chance! If you blow that, I want somebody who knows what they're doing." The employees at the hospital have licenses. They went to school. Despite what you might think, they really do know more about medicine than you do. That's why you're there. If you don't believe that, why didn't you stay home? Next time, you might want to think about doing that. Just stay home and use your Waffle House waitress experience to figure out the correct way to treat your heart attack and I promise you, nobody from the hospital is going to come to your house and drag you out and poke needles in you. They'll leave that to the funeral director and it will be a lot easier on them to just read about you in the obituaries next Thursday.

Anyway, you get the idea. And there's more. God knows, there's so much more.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


A friend of mine who is a known, sort of conspiracy theorist, suggested I go to a site she found on the internet. She was told about it by a woman she met at the farm supply store buying big, plastic tubs for water storage. The internet site is for women who are, well, I'm not sure exactly. They're survivalists, to a degree. There's a lot of talk about the end of the world and preparedness (how does having a cellar full of canned goods keep you safe from the Apocalypse?) and God and war, etc. I knew better than to go to that site but I did it, anyway. I went to it because my friend told me to look at it and I knew she'd ask me later if I did. But also, because there is a lot of information about making soap and gardening and canning and a lot of things I'm particularly fond of.

My mistake tonight was in reading a thread on the website about "something bad coming in the Fall". Several of the posters shared similar "inner urgings" to prepare (how?) for some unidentified disaster that is suppose to occur this Fall, as in now. Well, economically I think there's some validity to that. And who am I to determine the validity of another's "inner urgings"? Nobody. I have to honor that because I have the same things. And maybe that's what bothers me so much, this similarity in their's and my own strong feelings this summer; their's regarding getting prepared by buying food and storing water, I guess and mine about getting back to basics, quitting my job and trying to get some semblance of sanity back (did I ever have it?) in my life. It was a little weird reading that other people experienced such a close premonition to mine. A feeling that wouldn't let them alone, a sense of urgency to make the changes in question, just a strong sense of being "led" to something (or away from something).

I considered, this in 2001, trying my hand at something of a political thriller-type of fiction writing in which some kind of disaster would happen and my whole family, sisters, brother, my grown kids and, now, grandchildren, my Mom would all come and live, with us, on our 20 acres and we'd have an intentional community, of sorts, out of necessity rather than a higher consciousness. We'd have to build houses for all of the various nuclear families (total of 5, if Freddy and I stayed in the cabin that's there, which we wouldn't because he would cause me to have to beat his head in with that tv blaring and no where to go to get away from it). But it's sort of a dream of mine, that I hope never comes true, to have all my chicks in one nest under my wing. That's why I wanted to write it. Because I'd love to be close to all of them, albeit not that close.

Back to the website for militant housewives. It occurred to me after I got scared like I always do when I read bilge like that, that those people on that website all think the same thing, in terms of disaster for what's the fun of preparing without a disaster? So they all think the same things and they all post on that forum and they all read all those posts and that's what they think about day and night. Dream about it. Disaster and being prepared. So, it follows that it's going to get bigger and bigger and realer and realer for all of them because of the time and energy they're giving it. And I've always known this. Or at least since we moved to the south in 1979 and began being bombarded by these Apolalyptic predictions. And maybe they're right. I have enough sense to know I may be wrong but what if I am? Oh, I'll starve to death sooner than the women on that forum because I only have a pantry and medium-sized freezer full of food but we're all gonna die anyway, aren't we? If it's the end of the world? Unless they're counting on the rapture and then they don't need all that damned food, anyway, do they? More for the rest of us, I say. And besides, these are the same people who were too smart to get caught with their pants down at midnight on January 1, 2000 when....whatever it was that was suppose to happen, happened. They were so superiorly obedient to their premonitions from God that they took their 401ks and bought 5 gallon buckets of wheat and big generators and guns because God knows, they couldn't let their neighbors eat any of their food, right?

Is it me or is everybody crazy? Let me get this right. The Republicans are Christians. Christians=Good Guys. These "Good Guys" are opposed to government policies that lend assistance to poor people. Republicans love guns. Republicans believe in capital punishment. Republicans believe the government should not regulate the people which allows the rich people to continue, more effectively to fuck the poor people. But, again, the Republicans are all about God.

The Democrats, conversely, are heathens because they don't want to persecute gay people and because they believe women should have a right to choose to have an abortion (which I'm not saying I do or don't subscribe to. I'm staying out of that shit.)

I honestly don't get it. I think the entire world has gone completely mad and I want to go hide, now. Yes, and suck my thumb.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Haunting

I have a ghost. The haunting has gone on for as long as I can remember it and it's getting worse, lately. Sometimes I try to write about it in an attempt to make sense of it but it's difficult. I almost never talk about it because it's very hard to put into words. I'll try here.

There is something very deep inside me, in my soul, I suppose. It's so deep I've never seen it fully, just feel it's presence. All of the time. It's always here, sometimes more evident than other times but always it's with me. Always. It feels sort of like a river that runs under the ground, it's current swift and sure and deep. Very deep. And it's old. Much older than I.

I'm not sure what it is, I only know how it feels and some of the things that make me feel it more strongly. I feel it in museums. Inside the two earth lodges I've been in up in Nebraska. It's in old houses and in the old houses I dream about so often. It was in my Mom's bed the last visit I made to see her when I laid down for a nap one afternoon and smelled her on the pillow and saw my grandmother's lamp on her nightstand. It made me cry.

It's in the long, waving prairie grass and in the log cabins at Silver Dollar City. It's in the sound of Irish music and the smell of a campfire and that of the coffee I boil in the blue enamel fleck coffee pot my friend, Mr. Toon gave me.

The smell of tomato vines and the dry air in my workshop loft and the full moon. And I know I'm suppose to write about it or what it tells me to write but I just can't quite hear what it's saying to me. I can't quite understand the message. I can tell that sometimes I'm very "warm" but just can't quite comprehend. It doesn't leave me alone, no matter what. It's as if I'm meant to do something, write something or paint something and it gets more urgent the longer I wait. The urgency is almost deafening now. It's not going to be ignored. It haunts me continuously.

My therapist (you knew there was a therapist somewhere in this story, didn't you?) said a door is open to me and that doors don't stay open forever. That I must act or the door will eventually close. I know he's right about the door being open. But I don't know if its ever going to close. I hope it waits for me to figure it out. To understand what the ghost is trying to tell me.

As I go through the days I recognize things that are connected to it. An ER patient we got one day who was struck by a train. His face looked like chopped beef, his toenails were long and twisted and on his scrawny chest was an unfinished tattoo that said, "Prope of Estelle (somebody)". He was connected. I don't know how, I just know he was. The smell of lavender. Moonlight. Lying on my belly at the end of our dock watching the fish and turtles and the reflection of the fat clouds in the glass-like, still surface of the water. That's all connected. The way I could see the grief hanging in the trees outside our RV parked in my daughter and son-in-law's driveway the 6 weeks following the death of my granddaughter, Anna in 2006. I could still see it even at night from my bed inside. It hung in the trees near my daughter and her husband's bedroom on the second floor.

I'm suppose to do something with all of that and millions of other things that nudge me when I see them or think about them. I just can't figure out what. What do I say about them? How do I express it all?

I'm a bit disappointed in myself for not following my heart. And I think the ghost is disappointed, as well. I feel its disappointment and its refusal to accept my procrastination to do what I know I'm suppose to be doing. And I feel a strong sense of urgency. Time is running out, it seems to be saying. There's only so much time. Hurry up and figure it out.

I fear I'll die before I understand what it's telling me to do. Death is a big part of what it's telling me about. People aren't here forever. I'm not going to be here forever. I see it every day in the ER. People in their 40s and 50s dropping dead. A guy tonight. 44. Dead. I've got to hear what it's saying to me.

I dream at night about big, old, empty houses. Huge houses. And sometimes there are sounds coming from the basements. Or there's a feeling in the house and it paralyzes me and I can't scream and I can't run. I'm paralyzed. I'm not doing what I'm suppose to be doing.

Other people just get up in the morning and go to work and do what they're suppose to with a smile on their face and come home and mow the lawn and eat supper and watch something on mainstream television and go to bed and never think about it. Just live their lives without asking questions. Without a ghost. I've never been like that. I've always had this ghost trying to tell me to do something but not quite talking loud enough for me to hear it.

Pray that that someday I can hear.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Me & Mother Abigail

I have a new fantasy. When I need to go to sleep I put on the thunder on my sound machine and I imagine I'm sitting on the porch of an old, dilapidated farmhouse in front of acres and acres of grass that's waving in the wind in Nebraska and there's a thunderstorm coming. I pretend I live there and write stories for a living and never go to work at a hospital. I love that fantasy. It makes me feel like Mother Abigail in The Stand. I'm absolutely haunted by the idea.

I've never been much for reality. Never. Why is that? And more importantly, why can't I find a way to live a different reality that I'm comfortable with? One thing is this: I buy stuff because I'm trying to fill the void I have from not doing what my heart tells me to do. Then I have to do more of what my heart doesn't tell me to do in order to pay for all that stuff. And then I get even further away from my heart.

I asked my husband the other day if we could take enough money out of retirement to pay off enough bills so that I could stay home with him. He said we just can't and I understand that but I also know that the chances are that by the time I can afford to stay home with him, he'll be dead. I know it as well as I'm sitting here in the dark typing on my laptop at 12:48am listening to him snore beside me. And I told him that but he doesn't think it's a good idea. So we'll spend our years together like this. Me working and being so incredibly emotionally spent by the fucking insanity of a hospital emergency room that I have absolutely nothing left for anybody on my days off, him. And I'll order another movie or another book or some colonics equipment to fill the void inside me.