Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hopefully Coming Soon to a City Near You


We went today to the exhibit, FLOODWALL, a Katrina Memorial by Jana Napoli in its midwest debut here in CinCity. If you get the opportunity come on up to the Clifton Cultural Arts Center(August 28-September 14)or see it when it comes to your town.

In Miss Jana's words, "I wanted to take this intimate and homely detritus out of this sodden world. I wanted to take the wrenching cry of grief and transform it into a wailing wall where all of us could mourn. This emotional response quickly grew into a sculptural and historical work that would allow the people of New Orleans to speak, to talk about what they value and why. Anyone who sees the drawers is drawn to them in a very personal way because it is such a familiar object. They think of their own lives, their own drawers and what they hold to be precious and sacred."

It's quite moving to see the wall of empty drawers, or in some cases, the flotsam left behind--pages of phone numbers, an old photo--hopefully not to be repeated with Gustav.

We can still help.

Good Times Ahead


Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate. This has become a hell of a lot more interesting horse race. Am really looking forward to reading and hearing more. I have my bias--I mean look at me, I've worked with the indigent population and the marginalized my entire working life. I have my leanings. But we've got some smart,educated, articulate, experienced people running this year and I have no doubt at all that they love our country. I say, let the games begin.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't Blink


"I was glued to my tv
when it looked like he looked at me and said
'Best start putting first things first.'
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can't flip it over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it's worth
Don't Blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you're twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your 'better half'
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you're praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink" --Kenny Chesney

My honey haired girl surprised me tonight at dinner when she began talking about how sad she felt about growing up and that it was all going by so fast. "Next year I'll be going into senior year, then going to college, and then I'll be going to work. I'm going to be 72 years old before you know it."

I tried to joke her out of it by explaining how slowly time would pass when her old mother was living with her and repeating the same thoughts and sentences hour after hour. And the loss of impulse control...Those will be long days indeed for her, bless her heart. But she wasn't buying it.

The hubby and I talked about it when we walked the dog and the words to The Circle Game came to his mind. I think every generation probably has their own anthem of life's speed and the fleeting quality of its moments. Joni Mitchell sang ours.

How do you tell an earnest faced honey haired girl child about savoring, even in the quickness of them, the happy days, the days that go by one jumbled on top of another identical in their routines? How do you tell this sweet soul to put the memories of these days in a safe place to use as a bulwark for the day when time moves too slowly through air thick with pain or loneliness? I can't do it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Basketball by G.E.Johnson



Once after dinner a woman and I walked past
An empty basketball court and she says,
"I played on a team my junior year in Belfast,"
And I say "Want to shoot some?" She says "Yes,"
Though she was wearing a long black dinner dress.
She kicked off her high heels and she caught
My pass and with great finesse
Drove to the baseline, jumped and shot
Swish. Two points. We played for awhile,
Man in a black suit, woman in a long black gown,
I loved her quickness and her heads-up style,
Her cool hand as she beat me hands down —
Her jumpiness, like a blackbird in the night—
Her steady eye, her feet about to take flight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Courage


Two more days in Neurodramaville and I've been thinking a lot about courage. I actually think about courage quite often due to the nature of my work, and I'll get back to that aspect in a moment, but reading Lydia's post from the weekend (please see below) brought the broader, more political and social aspects of bravery and acts of courage to mind.


Acts of courage, to me, are small everyday occurrences that may go unnoticed, but never feel small to the person doing them. Daily I am painfully aware of how difficult it is to come to any hospital's ICU and see the person you love lost and unrecognizable by the residue of trauma or disease. Hell, it's hard for me to come in day after day to the barrage of bad news and worse outcomes and I get to escape home to my own life, laundry, and grocery lists.

It requires courage to drive in everyday and walk through those automatic sliding glass doors with a threadbare wrapping of hope wrapped tightly around your shoulders, newly washed and pressed overnight, reciting over and over, "Today he'll wake up. Today the fever will be down. Today he'll be able to get off the ventilator." And it requires courage to come back the next day and the day after that to hear the recital of lab results, CT scan readings, neuro exams all describing a slow spiral in the wrong direction. I know, families come in because that's their family member. Of course they're going to keep coming in, but you'd be surprised how many people don't. Or, they come in drunk at ten o' clock on a Wednesday morning. It's not called "Liquid Courage" for nothing.

Families come in to sit at the bedside and in the hard, orange plastic chairs out in the waiting area for hours, days, and weeks because it's the right thing to do and because of love, but neither of those reasons makes it any less painful or exacts less of a cost. And to pull courage out of one's coffers is easier when it's the socially accepted way to act. We all know it's hard to live through this experience of a critically ill loved one. That is why we, as a society, try to be supportive. Neighbors bring over casseroles in GladWare containers. Local hotels give discounts to hospital families. We give money and poptops to the Ronald McDonald House. Coworkers give of their PTO(paid time off)bank.

I'm reading a book in the evenings, Blitz, The Story of December 29, 1940, by Margaret Gaskin, about the most damaging night the city of London endured in the three month long bombing by the Germans. Courageous citizens? You bet. A London writer was quoted at the time:"When this is all over, in the days to come, men will speak of this war, and they will say: I was a soldier, or I was a sailor, or I was a pilot; and others will say with equal pride:I was a citizen of London." Yet this bravery also came with the support of neighbors, newspapers, radio, and government. And it was pragmatic.

"Most of us were scared stiff the first week," a member of the Women's Voluntary Service confessed in a letter to a friend in America. "We didn't show it much but we damned well were. Then I suppose the 'soldiers of the front line' business came over us and we found there was no point in being scared and also it was a bad thing to be, so we stopped being."

What about acts of courage that are not socially acceptable? What drives two young black athletes to raise their arms in support of the civil rights movement in their moment of great personal achievement at the Olympics? Why not enjoy their victories and use what celebrity they gain to work towards their political/social objectives at a more appropriate time and venue? Why rock the boat? Why start up the drama?

It's fatigue. Rosa Parks has said or written somewhere that she wasn't intending to make a civil rights statement that December day in Montgomery, Alabama. She refused to give up her seat because she'd worked hard that day and she was tired. And that's as it should be. She was tired. People reach a tiredness that doesn't allow them to move one more inch, make one more concession, make nice over one more insult.

The talking heads are throwing the word courage around in reference to Ted Kennedy's speech last night at the Democratic Convention in Denver. Stirring. Historical. Sentimental, yes. I had tears in my eyes watching this lion of the Senate give one of the last public speeches in his career and to hear him echo his eulogy from Bobby's funeral. Courage to hand the torch to the new generation of Democrats? No. That's survival and wanting to see your work live on. It would be courageous to acknowledge the man who made this day possible by signing into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But to praise Lyndon Baines Johnson would not be politically prudent. And LBJ's acts of courage still go unnoted even today, August 27,the day of what would be his 100th birthday.

Not such a large thing to do. A simple,short sentence in a sea of sentences. The time it might take to sign a signature to a piece of legislation. The time it takes to say, "No, I won't be giving up this seat today." The time it takes to raise an arm in the air. The time it takes to allow the sliding glass doors to open and take the first step through them. Small acts doing what's right whether or not it's the right time or right place.


"I've just handed the South to the Republicans for fifty years, certainly for the rest of our life times."--LBJ

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"...how people ...can find unity in what is right."


Please, please, please leave this spot immediately and click over to read Lydia's post about a Forty Year Old Salute and from there on to Kevin's blog posting dated October 22, 2006 about those same summer Olympics in 1968. I didn't know the back story to that photo though I remember the events clearly.
I would actually put the photo here, but I have irritated my own computer somehow and honey haired girl is not here to help me with hers. It seems somehow naked without a photo for the garnish factor.

Oh, yes. She's home!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Goldfinches by Mary Oliver


Some goldfinches were having a melodious argument
at the edge of a puddle. The birds wanted to bathe, or
perhaps just to dip their heads and look at themselves,
and they were having trouble with who should be
first, and so on. So they discussed it while I stood in
the distance, listening. Perhaps in Tibet, in the old
holy places, they also have such fragile bells. Or are
these birds really just that, bells come to us--come to
this road in America--let us bow our heads and
remember now how we used to do it, say a prayer.
Meanwhile the birds bathe and splash and have a
good time. Then they fly off, their dark wings opening
from their bright, yellow bodies; their tiny feet,
all washed, clasping the air.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Amen I say, Amen




"Don't ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Howard Thurman

Wise words found on sparkletopia by way of womanwandering. Very crafty of them to find this quote and post it. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two Girls. Two Choices To Make



We have two girls. Two girls who are rapidly growing into women. So the option of a vaccine that could deter cervical cancer was very welcome news to me, their mother. Now the New England Journal of Medicine is kinda shaking things up a little with their less than robust opinion of the
HPV vaccine and telling us all to slow our rush to judgement and vaccinations. Slow down and wait and see?? That I can do. Keep my two girls in a bubble and keep them from growing up and out...that I cannot do.

For anyone else out there who might be interested, take a look at the NEJM article and see what you think.

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/359/8/861, in case I failed again at link=word, but I think I might have gotten it :>). If so, gonna call it a night.

When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats




When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pilgrims by G.E. Johnson


Out of the flat dry country where I seem to be
Stuck these days I'd like to sail up the West Coast
On a cruise ship with strangers and you and me
Lying in bed, feeling the engines vibrate far below.
We'd dress up for dinner in the grand salon
And dine on champagne and oysters like tycoons
And when the ship comes to port, we'd stay on
Board and walk the decks and hear old tunes
Drift across the water as we promenade
Like "If I Had You" which Bucky Weil played
So beautifully.
God rest his elegant spirit.
And here we are, so lucky to be able to hear it:
We are pilgrims afforded room and board.
And each day, my darling, is its own reward.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

...he cannot be found in noise and restlessness

We need to find God,
and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence.
See how nature -
trees, flowers, grass-
grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun,
how they move in silence...
We need silence to be able to touch souls.

Mother Teresa




Lives were lost. Hearts are broken. And the world keeps spinning.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lifesaver For One Please


A trend we had started noticing in Neurodramaville--increase in patients with head injuries as a result of motorcycle collisions. With rising gas prices more folks are riding motorcycles. Unfortunately, they are not wearing helmets.

Head injuries--if survived--are catastrophic. Neurologically, physically, financially, and emotionally devastating.

With the base daily rate of an ICU bed at $2500/day a person can't afford not to wear a helmet.
And the rest of us need to share the road and play well with others.

Below is The New York Times article with more facts and figures:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/15/us/15fatal.html?ex=1376539200&en=4ee414e0b2a7f45b&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

(Honey-haired girl showed me once how to make a link = word, but I can't figure it out again.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

How To Play Night Baseball by Jonathan Holden


A pasture is best, freshly
mown so that by the time a grounder's
plowed through all that chewed, spit-out
grass to reach you, the ball
will be bruised with green kisses.
Start in the evening. Come
with a bad sunburn and smelling of chlorine,
water still crackling in your ears.
Play until the ball is khaki—
a movable piece of the twilight—
the girls' bare arms in the bleachers are pale,
and heat lightning jumps in the west. Play
until you can only see pop-ups,
and routine grounders get lost in
the sweet grass for extra bases.

Bugs Can Be Pretty Too


The cause of such consternation in Neurodramaville.
Going in tomorrow to start another 24 hours after a day off.
Hope your weekends are glorious. And bug-free.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

ALERT: New Name For Work


Neurodramaville

You would think that in an ICU where there are stories aplenty about the human condition--the split second changes that have the power to destroy a life or a family--the nurses and docs would get enough drama in a day without having to create it over daily worklife nothingness. But alas, no, that is not to be.


It's enough to drive a person to write bad literature. And, so I shall.



Puzzle of the Abandoned Picnic Basket

4.

"Evelyn? Are you there? Can you hear me? Are you girls still awake? I can never get the time difference down there straight."

"Yes, Mrs. Guiliani, I'm up," I replied.

Mrs. Guiliani had been our next door neighbor for only a few years, ever since Good Samaritan bought up all the land surrounding the ever growing medical complex, which included the house where Mrs. G. had lived as a new bride in the 50's, raised her family and lived as a widow. The hospital' s Alumni Foundation bought the house next to us, did a little painting, put in some new bushes and plopped her right in. My mom kind of adopted her as a project and made sure Mrs. G. made it to the grocery store in the winter and the really hot summer days. She was nice enough, always referred to my sister and me as "you girls" like we were one entity. I was surprised she called me by name, was never sure she could tell us apart.

"Is everything okay there? Are you alright?" I asked as I stood up from my chair to try and find a better reception spot for the phone.

"Well, honey, I think someone has broken into your girls' house. I got up a little while ago to get some water and I saw little white lights floating inside your windows. Your mother asked me to keep an eye on the house so I called the police and they're here right now. I tried to call your parents, but I must have written the number down wrong. No one answers."

" I know, I think their phone's not working in Canada. It's so annoying. Thanks for calling here . Is our house okay? Are you okay? Do you think I should I come home?"

From the corner of my eye I could see that Chandra had tensed and was now leaning forward, putting his glass down on the deck next to him.

"Evelyn, honey, I don't know about that. I think the police should decide. I can't tell you what to do. I'll give them your phone number and you'd best work it out with them."

" Oh... Okay, Mrs. Guiliani. Well, thanks again for calling, and I'm sorry that you got woken up. Are you alright?"

She chuckled softly into the phone. "This has been some kind of excitement and I'm up half the night anyway. Now I have some company. There's neighbors standing on their porches like they got some kind of business being out there in the middle of the night. Haven't seen most of them the whole time I've been living here. That man that lives across from your house--the one with the little fat barking dog--he's walking around your yard in his boxer shorts and Tshirt like he's supervising. This is something to see," and she laughed again.

Thanks, Mrs. G. That is not the image I need seared into my brain. She talked a little more, repeated her phone number several times for me, and promised to call if there was any other trouble. I turned around and saw that Chandra was again leaning back in his chair, glass in hand, eyes half closed as if on the edge of sleep. I didn't want to disturb him with this new disruption, not until I had more information, so I padded slowly past him and quietly opened the sliding door into the restaurant. I wanted to find Bridget and see if anyone from the Sorority Hotline had gotten in touch with Mom and Dad. If not, I would throw some clothes together and get a couple hours of sleep before I started the drive home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Dancers are the athletes of God."--Albert Einstein


Just a couple of minutes in between shifts at Neuroramaville, but I read this quote at http://writerquake.blogspot.com/ and fell in love with it. I've never been one to have dreams of flying, but I have had dreams of ballet jumps that felt just as free. Thanks, Lydia.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Say It Ain't Over So Soon

The honey-haired girl started back to school today; "attendance in Homeroom at 7:30 am sharp." She's only been working on her summer assignments ALL SUMMER long. At least the summer that was left to her. It's not even the middle of August yet, there's plenty of dog days ahead.


If there were a Magpie-ian calendar, I would drag summer by the tips of its flip-flops into October. Couple weeks of autumn and Indian summer, Happy Halloween, couple more weeks of autumn foliage descending leave by gorgeous leave to soften the hard edges of concrete walkways, moving on to give full attention to Thanksgiving, then--and only then--Christmas revelry. New Years. Couple of months of morbid depression while the sun never shines and it rains every day, then you get allergy season. Some call it spring, but they're probably hopped up on pseudoephedrine. And again, back round to summer, the most blissful time imaginable.










Late Afternoon, St. John

by Linda Pastan


A little blue heron has landed on the roof.
It is as if a small angel had parked in our lives,
shielding us briefly with its wings.
In the cove the old turtle surfaces again;
shadows of reef fish shiver by.
On the stones chameleons go through their wheel of colors.
Rustle of coconut fronds
combing the soft air...glitter
of passing raindrops.
Let go. Let go.
Soon the sun will plunge
into the sea dragging its plumage
of pinks and purples.
I can almost taste
the oleander, smell
the salt on your skin.
Soon we will drown
in our five exploding senses.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I May Not Be A Rock Star, But I'm A Damn Fine Back-Up Band**

If, by some miracle or fairy godmother, you were a rock star who would you be??

The one and only, the irreplacable, the incomparable...ladies and gentlemen, I present to you--

The Funk Brothers


**idea stolen from http://www.citizenofthemonth.com/ . Sorry, never said I would be Mother Theresa or Ghandi.

Secret of the Puzzling Picnic Basket...Part 3


3.
Days went by without any word from The Parents and no further clues to solve The Secret of the Puzzling Picnic Basket. We had three more cottages filled with families and the restaurant and bar were getting a decent amount of business from the neighboring native Bon Secourians and the RV park down the road. Bridge and I might be able to make enough money to pay for our tuition AND books by the time the fall session of school started. It had been an especially long week. I was looking forward to being off duty and sleeping in tomorrow morning. Maybe some shopping up at the outlet mall in Foley. I was wondering the exact time the Shoe Warehouse opened when Chandra's voice filled the air.

"You could call the police."
I snorted a mouthful of beer back into the bottle, onto my Tshirt and laughed.
"I think if the words drunk and walking aren't involved our Sheriff Taylor won't be interested."

Yes, we have our own Sheriff Taylor here in Bon Secour. Christopher "Skip" Taylor. Sheriff Skippy. Skippity-Do-Da. Skip's claim to fame around here is trolling up and down Highway 180 and arresting our customers for "walking under the influence"/public intoxication. He was also my first kiss the summer I turned 12 years old and he was 15. And, he was my first broken heart when his letters dwindled quickly down to zero that school year. A couple of summers ago he was talking a lot about taking away the restaurant's liquor license and arresting Chandra for serving alcohol to drunk people. I don't know whatever became of that, but we still serve alcohol and Chandra still works here.

It was a little past midnight and our last diners had been gone almost an hour. Our closing time was 1am. and Chandra closed at 1am despite the lack of any business. He was a stickler for the rules and I guess I couldn't blame him much. We had fallen into the habit of sitting on the restaurant's deck looking at the lights of the high rise condos across the bay dancing overtop the water. Chandra had his nightly glass of Macallan scotch straight up and a cigar and, now that I was 21, I was able to drink a beer out here with him.

"Besides, what's the crime? Littering with a picnic basket?" I shook my head. "I don't have anything to go to Skip about. It would be embarrassing. Bridget and I are going to keep calling Mom and Dad. They've got to get phone service somewhere in Canada. Bridgie even has her sorority sisters calling them."

We sat in silence, which wasn't all that silent with the muted music from the restaurant behind us and the cresendos of the tree frogs surrounding us. We watched a motorboat traveling west towards the mouth of the bay.

"Do you think Mark could have left that basket? Maybe Bridget helped him?" I asked quietly in the darkness.

Chandra said nothing for so long I looked over to see if he had fallen asleep. I could see the tip of his cigar flicker and flare and the glint of it in his eyes.

"I think if your sister knew anything about this she would have told everyone she's met."

I waited. Chandra had a talent for giving out the tiniest bits of information and answers that he could.

"What about Mark?"
I waited another long minute before I heard, "A man will do extraordinary things for the woman he loves, not always good things. I think Mark loves you, but I don't see him having the imagination for this."

He was right about Mark's lack of imagination. Well, he was right about both of them. I wasn't sure why I felt so deflated. It felt good to hear that somebody thought Mark still loved me and I felt really guilty about feeling good about it. I was also tired of thinking about that stupid business card. My brain actually felt bruised. My hair hurt. And if this wasn't a practical joke or a romantic ploy what was the point behind an abandoned picnic basket and faked car dealership? I was ready to chalk it up to random strangeness when my cell phone started chirping like birds.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hey...The Song Says, "She Works HARD For The Money"


Sad to report, below is the headline of this morning's newspaper. Apparently there was no other news IN THE WHOLE WIDE UNIVERSE.

'Body rubs' leads to arrests.

"...According to Detective Jim Nesbit, detectives found that those women were linked to Web sites such as eros-ohio.com and craigslist.com, as well as publications such as Yellowbook and CityBeat, where they were advertising their services for massages and escort-type services.
'Prostitution has always been around in different ways,' Nesbit said. '(Customers) used to have to go to a seedier outlet, like a street corner.
'But online, they can do it in their own home, in a protected setting.'"


You know, back in the day hookers had to walk 5 miles to work, all uphill, in a snowstorm, and hang out on the corner of Liberty and Vine by the old White Castle's where they could get beaten and robbed and arrested. Let's get back to some good old-fashioned values, Sharonville, and crack the whip on crime. Just don't charge for the cracking the whip part.

"With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."



The Olympic Version




Had heard whisperings in the air of this You Tube video, but I had not yet seen it or gotten the full story. Viewed it this morning, courtesy of Writerquake (http://writerquake.blogspot.com/ ), and maybe because the sun is shining, the planets are in alignment, the hormones are balanced, there's a full pot of coffee in the kitchen and/or it's a luscious summer day in CinCity something makes me feel hopeful. In need of a little hope and balance right about now. This past week in Neuroramaville was full of sad endings for many, many families and their friends. As a witness in the midst of such constant loss, it helps me to remember that life remains, and as life, is it whole.

Very apropos to the Olympics because this is very much a Greek story of the blessings the gods can bestow on mere mortals.







http://www.wildlifenow.com/


Love the Olympics and despite reservations about China hosting the Summer Games this year, I appreciate the still noble intention of peaceful games played among all nations. Opening ceremonies were phenomenal. Jaw dropping phenomenal.



As the troubadours of my generation said, "All you need is love, everybody."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Migration by Tony Hoagland


















This year Marie drives back and forth
from the hospital room of her dying friend

to the office of the adoption agency.
I bet sometimes she doesn't know
What threshold she is waiting at—


the hand of her sick friend, hot with fever;
the theoretical baby just a lot of paperwork so far.

But next year she might be standing by a grave,
wearing black with a splash of
banana vomit on it,

the little girl just starting to say Sesame Street
and Cappuccino latte grand Mommy.

The future ours for a while to hold, with its heaviness—
and hope moving from one location to another
like the holy ghost that it is.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

For The Weekend Warriors...Get Those Helmets Ready


Thanks muchly



Thank you to David, from Down Under, (http://david-mcmahon.blogspot.com/) for naming me as one of his "Post of the Day" recipients. I appreciate anyone actually reading anything I write here, let alone enjoying it, so again, thank you very much.

David has beautifully fabulous photos on his blogsite--which allows me some vicarious living outside of the hospital corridors and the local IGA grocery store I wander--as well as a tribe of very interesting and creative souls who visit him. Try it...you'll like it :>)


PS. I work with an Aussie nurse who loves, loves, loves to hear tales from home. She is one homesick little Kookaburra.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Secret of the Puzzling Picnic Basket...Part 2




2.

Bridget leaned over the faded and stained oak bar and asked the back of the bartender again,
"Oh,come on, Chandra.
You haven't seen anybody carrying this picnic basket around? Some mysterious stranger wandering by?"

He stopped stocking the glasses to turn all 5 feet 6 inches of swarthy head and belly around to look at her and the picnic basket in question, both sitting next to a half eaten plate of pizza rolls and watery glass of soda floating in a pool of its own sweat.
"I haven't seen anybody but the regulars, you two run-abouts, and the couple in room 12 from Corbin, Kentucky--your piece of country," as he pointed a crooked finger in my direction. "This place has been dead. And, if there were any fingerprints on that card you've worn them down to a nub now."
Bridget dropped the business card she'd been turning over and over in her hand like it was a lit match.

"Look, why don't you just call your mum and dad?" Chandra asked.

"They're not answering," I said. "They left on Friday for their vacation to Canada and then they're taking some train to somewhere. I can't get a hold of the neighbors either."

I drummed my fingers on the bar top out of synch with the ceiling fan blades beating overhead and looked at the bottle of Corona sitting before me like it held the answers to questions I kept repeating in my head. What was going on here? Granted, I watched way too much Law and Order, but what else are you going to do after the bars close in a tourist dump like this? Besides, crime shows or not, something didn't feel right. This has to be some kind of a joke, but I just wasn't getting it.

I don't even have any friends left to pull a joke on me since I broke up with Mark six weeks ago. His sister had been my best friend for the past eight years. She's the one who introduced us. Nobody from that family's talking to me, and my own family is grudgingly on speaking terms with me. Like on a need to know basis. Mark was the son they never had. "But, Evie, he's such a good man," my mother moaned. "You've put so much time in this and your father and I were counting on a wedding."

A wedding. That was the stone sticking in my craw. Mark graduated from business college this May and thought it was time for us to get married. "Get married or break-up," was how he put it once we were in the middle of our third fight on the subject. He said he didn't mean it that way, but to be honest, that was really the way things were. He wanted to get on with a "real life." He'd gotten a job at National City, wanted to talk about getting a house, and being a family.

Me--I don't even know what I want to be when I grow up, don't know where I want to live, but it sure as hell is not Dayton, Ohio. I'm the one that just changed majors in the middle of my junior year at Eastern Kentucky University. Criminal Justice to Nursing. Maybe someone might notice that I'm not exactly stable in my decision making abilities right now.

So, no friends. No boyfriend. No family talking to me except Bridgie. Just me and the happy guests and the barebones not-so-happy staff at the fabulous Calloway Cottages in Bon Secour Bay, Alabama. What I wanted to do was to get in my Jeep Cherokee and drive straight through to home to find out what was going on. Call Mark to help me. But then I thought about the gas money I'd need and don't have and then I started thinking maybe somebody wants me to leave Alabama right now. They want me out of the way for some reason. Where does that leave my sister and who could take over my waitressing shifts here? Why would someone want me gone?

Two Rough Days In Neuroramaville: 2 GSW's to the head, multiple teens in MVC's with head trauma, and 1 head bleed after ETOH and a kick to the skull.




The Latest Injury by Sharon Olds


When my son comes home from the weekend trip where he
stood up into a piece of steel in the
ceiling of a car and cut open his head and
had the wound shaved and sprayed
and stitches taken, he comes up to me
grinning with pride and fear and slowly
bows his head, as if to the god of trauma,
and there it is, his scalp blue-grey as the
skin of a corpse, the surface cold and
gelatinous, the long split
straight as if deliberate, the
sutures on either side like terrible
marks of human will. I say
Amazing, I press his head to my stomach
gently, the naked skin on top
quivering like the skin on boiled milk and
bluish as the epidermis of a monkey
drawn out of his mother dead, the
faint growth of fine hair like a
promise. I rock his brain in my arms as I
once rocked his whole body,
delivered, and the wound area glows
grey and translucent as a fledgling's head when it
teeters on the edge of the nest, the cut a
midline down the skull, the flesh
jelly, the stitches black, the slit saying
taken, the thread saying given back.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Secret of the Puzzling Picnic Basket



"A-tisket a-tasket
A green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my love
And on the way I dropped it"






Is that how it went? The song kept repeating in my head while I walked across the burning stretch of sand past the line of empty lounge chairs to check out the large picnic basket that had been left sitting out all day. Well, at least since earlier this morning when we'd gone for a run. I guess it could have been there all night. Looks like a nice one--saw it in the Crate and Barrel catalogue when I was searching frantically for a Father’s day gift last summer. As I remember, they were pricey…can’t imagine why someone would leave it here. It’s not like it’s a small thing you would forget about once you're finished eating.

Bridget told me not to come down here to check it out. She’s standing back on the boardwalk with her cell phone talking to one of her connected-at-the-ears sorority sisters from Ohio State and shouting down to me, "What is it? What is it?" She thinks it’s a bomb. Ready to take a picture if I blow up. That’s just moronic. Who leaves a bomb on a beach by the ocean? It’s not like this is someplace like DisneyWorld with huge lines of people. It’s not even crowded. Probably too early in the season to tell, but still, our bookings so far are really thin. I hope there's not a head in there. That would be smelling bad by now.

I stopped circling the abandoned basket to kneel down and sniff around the wicker sides, standing quickly to brush the hot, prickly grains of sand from my knees. I couldn’t smell anything but fishy smells from the water and the Panama Jack I was wearing. Couldn't hear anything either except the low drone of a waterbike out in the distance and the waves playing tag with the shore. No flies. Even Bridget was quiet. Well, if it was a head it’d be an old dried up one, maybe a shrunken head; not something rotting the flesh off. Leaning over with my face half turned away I slowly lifted the smooth wooden lid to peer inside.

Nothing. It was empty. I didn’t even see any crumbs or old wrappers, crumpled napkins. Nothing. The basket looked brand new; the chambray liner still crisp and creased and, in the curve of a corner, an ivory colored business card that read, “Don Shoemaker, Regional Sales Manager, Thompson-McConnell Cadillac, 1195 Redbank Road, Dayton, Ohio 41074”.

Well that's weird. Dayton's my home town, but there's no car dealership at that address. That address is our parents' street and house number.