Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sensory Overload, Internal, related to overactivity of frontal lobe as evidenced by this draft of an email and headache.

This is an email I decided not to send. I think it's more of a journal entry. I'm tempted not to even post it here. I seem to have lost my internal editor lately. I wish I could speak in declarative sentences more often. My friend actually had to stop me the other night, and say - Is this still parenthetical to the story you wanted to tell? Because my attention is waning.

I really have been just so full of the ideas for the past couple months (this is the same sort of thing I was describing as manic in February!) and I don't have a good grasp on how healthy it is. On one hand, it's very possible that I was so 'shut down' (curses Dr. Phil and every self-help book in Barnes & Noble) and disconnected that now this level of interaction is appropriate? On the other, maybe it was just fine to think of things and then not tell anyone about them! Internal dialogue - it's a good skill!
If I can pinpoint what feels unhealthy, it's the constant and immediate desire for recruitment for these ideas. I can't have a thought, but two seconds later, I'm thinking who I can call about it, and what group might help me put it into play. Again, good to collaborate. Good to have these resources. Nice change from isolated and cynical. However: it's Bad to collaborate too early, because if I don't follow through with it, I look like a flake. Bad to ask for collaboration and committee formation for something that's really smack in the personal realm. Not necessarily bad, but egocentric to assume that what's worrying me is also worrying others.
I also think there's an element of avoidance at play. I'm very busy being very busy so that when I get a B in Health Assessment, and I know I could have easily gotten an A, then I can say, but look how busy I was! If I ended up doing everything I've thought of doing, I'd be raving in a week. Wait, I'm raving now, just thinking of it!
Pressure to pack as much into the next five semesters as possible? Of course that's a factor as well. My admissions essay here was all about how if I can do this job and move into this career, then I feel I should. good for an overall motivation - bad for day-to-day decisions. I told someone the other day that I have this sense of deprivation precisely because there's so much that could be done, that is available to do. This is part of what Inga was talking about in that excerpt from her book, Autobiography of a Blue Eyed Devil. And I can see intellectually how it's ridiculous to whine about an abundance of choices and activities - but it feels so relentless. Every day I'm finding out about things I wish I had done, or things I'd like to do. It's like the polar opposite of Buddhism - it's like trying to suffer as much as possible by wanting to do everything and never reducing the number of possibilities.
Occasionally seeing people as resources who aren't? Ouch. This one sucks when it happens. It doesn't happen often. But there's nothing like going to someone, and asking for a hug and having them look at you carefully. Is it appropriate to ask your professor for a hug? No. (I haven't, by the way!) I just mean that I don't know if what I'm asking of people in the way of help or brainstorming is appropriate. It's such a new experience for me to be asking for help at all!

Professor P,
I seem to be full of ideas lately, and I'm having a hard time determining on my own if they are realistic, or helpful to anyone but me, so I've been just trying to ask the person that I think might best help me figure out if they need follow up. I also wonder if this stuff is already happening and I just don't know about it. Anyway!

First idea - Tutoring sessions for Concepts and Skills for the new folks this summer, just in the beginning of the semester. We could review the basics and make sure that folks are solid in these early on, since they apply so broadly to the curriculum. I think this material was covered really well in lecture, but I also think that the terminology and the underlying ideas are so familiar-yet-unfamiliar that more time spent, outside of class, would be helpful. Does this seem like a good idea to you - or am I projecting about what I wish I had?

Second idea - I've been really thinking about the conversation about staff ratios and care of incontinent patients today. It seems that we keep bumping into the idea of disparities between what we're learning as ideal practice and the practical limitations of the field. I don't want to start out, in my first semester, with the assumption that I won't be able to give this level of care that we discuss in class, but I also don't want to waltz into practice thinking that I will be able to do it all for everyone all the time. I don't have any clinical experience, and I'm anxious about the amount of responsibility an RN carries. It seems unrealistic, to expect someone to both do all the bedside care, and all the pharm research, and then also be responsible for monitoring all the techs and aides caring for my patient, and coordinating patient education and coordinating with family. Oh, and be a leader for the profession at conferences and such. At times, what I get out of the curriculum is an exhortation to not forget this aspect of care or that element of care. It's hard to imagine how to do that, and it's clear that in practice, it often doesn't happen. Do we have a whole class on this later in the curriculum? Can you and I sit down and talk about this sometime?

Now I've gone from passing along my questions to avoiding studying my Health Assessment. Neither of these is urgent, obviously, but I'd be happy to hear what you think.

Thanks, Kati

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


still burnt. applying aloe liberally. wincing each time I reflexively swing my backpack onto my shoulder. today, i managed to pull off the cute swingy shirt with crocheted sandals, but the sandals made little blisters on the inside of my heel and by the end of the day, I was carrying my shoes in my lunch bag and both of my bookbags in the other hand.

These blisters were invisible compared to what my marathon-running friend showed me yesterday. She said that the first aid stands were pitifully stocked and six miles apart. (I'm thinking to myself that I haven't walked six miles in years, if ever!) She said, "When it burst, I screamed out loud. But after a while, it just sort of went numb." She finished the race, within her time category. I stopped whining about my bra straps cutting into my sunburn for a while after she told the story.

Developmental exam yesterday seemed super easy - and stayed relatively on the surface of the EIGHT CHAPTERS of material it covered. I love the affect of the prof for that class, but she told us that to prepare for the test, which covered material with only one corresponding lecture, we should 'focus on the text'. No. the word you're looking for there is 'read'. When one focuses, one often has a shorter list than 250 pages to attend to. shrug. I thought I blew Health Assessment out of the water last Thursday and pulled a half-hearted 89. shake shake shake and roll.

I have a Fundamentals test tomorrow that is so difficult to study for - not because I've finished Barack's book, or because I had dinner with friends last night and tonight, or because I spent all weekend at a CPR class, getting a sneaky sunburn, and 'focusing' on eight chapters of developmental psych. It's hard to study for, because it's the mamby-pambiest material stuff of the class that already seems to slip out of my fingers each time I study it. I can't remember a bit of the last test, only that what I studied for that one was not on this one. The material we're covering is Stress, Sex, Aging, and Med Administration. I just don't trust that it's as easy as it seems. here's my study guide:

  • Be prepared to be directive when patients are exhibiting signs of sensory overload or ineffective coping.
  • Patients should use alternate positioning after hip surgery (though we never elaborated on this, and I felt I had pushed the boundaries of appropriate class discussion far enough when I asked if sex was considered to be an Activity of Daily Living by most texts).
  • Old people are useful, and you shouldn't use baby talk when addressing them.
  • If you need to give someone 50 mg of a PO med, and the tablets are 25 mg, then give the patient two.
I need to make a list of the random nursing questions I have. My addition today would be - why no more than three tablets at a time? Is this as random as provide patient care from the right side of the bed?

Speaking of stupid questions, let me leave you, gentle reader, with this gem. We had an information session about next semester today regarding how to register for the section of clinicals you want, and how it's not uncommon for 100 students to register in 3 minutes, so set your flipping alarms, and pay that parking ticket by Friday. After most everyone had left, Another Student asks if I know what exactly we'll be doing in clinicals. I have the same question, so AS and I trot up the Dr. Undergrad Dean. After a brief lead-in by AS, I say, "I mean, will I ever be alone in the room with the patient this summer?" Dr. UD looked at me carefully and said, "Yes."

I am going to have to be a bit more careful about what I say, lest I become the talk of the faculty lounge. Who is that short-haired sunburnt woman? Why is she always asking such ridiculous questions? Oh, don't worry, she came from a community college, and those students always have a difficult time transitioning.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I'm a nocturnal unitarian.

We had a lovely day today! The kid and I spent all day outside, first having a picnic brunch delivered by some friends, and then the kids played and my friend and I talked and laughed at the ridiculous shit on the internet and looked for clovers. Friend's kid got picked up by her dad, my kid moped for a bit, and tried to get us (and any visible neighbors) to come play whiffle ball with him, and eventually we went for falafel sandwiches. Kid and I went to the yarn store to get another skein made into a cake, and stopped at the grocery store for a stock-up from the freezer aisle of veggie chicken nuggets, frozen peas and toaster strudel for dessert. I have recently discovered frozen rice, and I am in LOVE! The kid had a homemade frozen dinner on the blanket in the yard, while I tried to read five chapters of developmental psych in an hour, then "helped" the neighbor clean out his gutters, which was prompted by the fact that the kid got his whiffle ball stuck up there at some point this afternoon. I got sunburnt and the kid got to put cold aloe on my shoulders and laugh while I winced - such glee!

Bedtime prompted one of my favorite conversations. We used to have this one twice a week, and it seems that in one dark period, it was every night, but this is the first time in a long time it's happened.

(bath with buttcrack and nutsack clean, lotion applied, teeth brushed, pjs on, clothes for school picked out, pee in the potty, fish fed, negotiations for post-teeth brushed snack complete, snack finished, and teeth brushed the second time. Fingernails trimmed, toenails as well, and tea tree oil applied to a tinea pedia looking rash between toes. hands washed, dragon book chapter read. cat removed from bed repeatedly. shew. no wonder bedtime is exhausting to me!)
me: bedtime music? suggestions?
kid: libana, please. (note: Libana's Night Passages is one the best bedtime music CDs of all time, and good for anyone who likes women's a capella from around the world.)
me: all right, dude. I'm going to work on this mountain of laundry while you fall asleep. Good night. (cringing because I've learned that ANY mention of an activity that might continue after kid is asleep is sufficient for kid to hurt himself to stay awake and watch activity.)
kid: i just can't go to sleep.
me: dude, you laid down 3.2 seconds ago. I didn't say Go to Sleep instantly! I said, Good night. which means, lay your head down, and let your body relax for the love of pete. We had a big day today.
5 minutes of stillness
kid: i know what 1.5 plus 2 is.
me: great, baby. night.
kid: I just hate going to sleep. I think I'm nocturnal.
me: Well, if that were true, you wouldn't have woken me up at 8am this morning, jumping on my head and telling me to get up and make you some breakfast!
kid: yeah, i'm definitely nocturnal. I don't like the night, and that's why I can't sleep. I told my dad about this last week. he said that I had to sleep and I told him it's not fair.
me: (thinking that this actually counts for study time, since we're dealing with some clear preoperational and concrete operational thought transition issues) Baby, in the past, I would have tried to convince you that you've gone to sleep every night of your life, that you can go to sleep tonight, and that if you stop trying and stressing about it, it's easier. I would have tried to explain that more sleep makes you wake up easier and gives your body the rest it needs. But if you're trying to tell me that you don't like NIGHT, I give up. I can't change the fact that there's night and day. It's simply not in my power. I love you. Good night.
kid: sighs. i want to sleep in your bed tonight.
me: (cursing the years we spent cosleeping and the times that we've shared my bed recently bc of convenience and piles of laundry on his bed.) Nope, not tonight, babe.
kid: i just can't possibly. (eyes close for 4 seconds)
me: would you like me to hold your hand?
kid: yeah. (drifts. breathing changes. brief struggle back up through sleep, rolls over and gives up. )

I think he knows when I'm making a list of the things that I'll do as soon as he's asleep. It's a weakness to be exploited, bc I'm so distracted talking myself out of the need to wash all the gladware so I can make our lunches, or do another chapter of developmental, or at least GLANCE at the material for wednesday's test, that he'll say, Can I read the Hello, Good bye Window? and I'll say sure, and before I know it, he's out of bed, picking out 85 books and talking in length about brachiosaurus and gastroliths.

I love the contradiction between being nocturnal and not liking night! Love it!

This is the same child who told me recently (and argued vigorously until I remember who I was talking to and gave up) that he was a unitarian, because he eats meat and veggies, and I'm a vegetarian, because I only eat veggies. When pressed, he said tentatively that those who chose to eat only meat would be called meatitarians. He seemed to know that this wasn't a word, but passed it off because there aren't many people who only eat meat. so. that's settled.

sat down with the kid's teacher last week, and decided that the kid is doing incredible stuff, but in relation to the curriculum, not as Advanced as I thought. Also, read the stuff in developmental textbook about gifted and they seemed use the word gifted to mean what I mean when I say "child prodigy". shrug. all the verbatim recall stuff he does is right on track, according to the text, and not nec. an indication of higher functioning. my intention with pursuing this issue at all is not for status (I hope it's not, how gross-smelling!) but from the assumption that if he's bored because he's not challenged, he'll become an asshole. Much of my parenting is motivated by this fear, to be honest. Who wants to be the parent of an asshole? Is assholery avoidable or inevitable? Where's that chapter in the text?

in other news, my friend told me to ease offa him. she did a very disturbing imitation of a mother from her kid's school who managed to link fatal injury to every single activity on the playground, and then did an even more disturbed imitation of the kid, complete with tippy-toes, and jacked up camel toe pants, and eyebrows in the hairline. okay. meditation, medication, something to lower the expectations and parental anxiety levels. got it.

to be edited drastically...

mental blog topics:
All my dreams seem to be social nightmares. full of complicated situations to be navigated, characters that have long since dropped off the map for me IRL, but with whom I apparently have Unfinished Business. I wish for the kinds of dreams that Dumbledore talks of in Goblet of Fire - soar to the highest heights, and plunge to the depths of the ocean. But most of my thinking time is spent embroiled in this relational intrigue. I'm constantly trying to winnow out what to do next, not observing nature or visualizing spiraling galaxies and whatnot. I'd like to give my mind more visual food to create these dreams. Art, nature, imagined scenes, shapes.

Nursing in the blogosphere: One way that nurses are visible, at least to each other. talk about the small informal support networks that have always existed for nurses, and how those break down with certain types of mgmt or work scenarios, and how the breakdown produces much yowling and perceived stress. Do a lit review type deal on the relative visibility within the broader blogosphere (with minimal whining about how I don't like that word and don't really know how to go about surveying the wider context of blogs and what's popular, what's not). Personal relfection on audience and anonymity - my latest hairstyle, though quite relevant to me, and to my state of mind, and therefore to a diary style blog is completely off topic on a professionally based blog, issues of varying levels of personal disclosure and being open/flexible about what's "good", "professional", "valuable to the discussion of the topic". Considering the idea of taking this idea to the SON, hosting a conversation about it, delving into the issues of the listserv chaos, communication in today's world, etc. so, looking at the topic from a personal standpoint (anonymity and audience), a school perspective (how aware are other students that nursing blogs exist, am I the only one who sees them as a valuable resource for entering the profession with some context for the profession), and within the field of nursing itself (blogs as a tool for advocacy and change, personal support networks, visibility of the profession).

also on the list to do computer wise is revise that letter to barack - slash to bare bones. apology for not doing any of the things that I think of as integral citizen tasks. address ethical perspective that awareness of an issue creates imperative to action, and then acknowledge that apology is slightly disingenious, because I know that I have every right to be politically inactive. all my energy and efforts are (properly) spent on basic survival tasks. Discuss the "arrongance of power" idea, and how bullied I feel. Unlimited, constant information about what's wrong, things that raise my hackles and make me want to stand up and say something. Inspiration smothered by the volume and urgency of daily tasks of various roles of mother, student, employee, friend, daughter of changing families, volunteer. I'm sorry that I'm not doing xyz. I also know that I'm not because I am doing abc and abc are more urgent, though not necessarily more urgent, as the time management expert would remind me. what's worse, xyz often relate directly to abc, but I barely have it in me to handle the minimums for abc, much less go the extra mile to look long range for xyz. and then dick cheney speaks for the american people, I feel excluded and yet unable to insert myself in the dialogue. this is not new, and not unique to me. it's just that i'm finally figuring out why i feel as bad when i read about folks doing things that i agree with, and support, as when i read about htings I abhor and disagree with. I feel unable to do anything about either news. It's a ridiculous place to be in, within a country that is so proud of its democracy, its chance for every citizen to be heard. Ridiculous to feel guilty for not being a good citizen, when the systems that should be in place to allow me the time to participate are broken, and seemingly beyond repair. want me to work for this campaign? deliver groceries, please.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Day 4 Spring Break

  1. I hope that I will go to bed early tonight - which would mean as soon as I finish this post. I have been keeping my usual early morning schedule this week (well, sort of, since I reset the alarm yesterday and took the kid to school an hour late. what! fuckit.). but I've been up into the wee hours. Apparently, treating myself on my vacation means sleep deprivation. Interesting.
  2. took the cats (and a little ziploc of poop) to the vet today for rabies shots and basic grooming. Came home with damp cats with short nails, a little aluminum tag taped to a sheet of paper, two weeks of antibiotics for The Cat Who Eats Himself, and a receipt for $257. Who am I that I can spend $257 on these animals?! A luxury, these cats. Amazing. I'm also grumpy about them because SomeCat barfed on the end of my bed at some point last night, and I slid through it as I slid out of bed this morning. The kid points a finger to TCWEH, and I must say the evidence does bear him out, since I found him crouching over a huge hairball tonight.
  3. Drove aimlessly around in the area that I want to move to in June. Found a lot of really trashy looking places. Found a couple of really cute houses. Fantasized about the yurt again.
  4. Worked a shift, made $50 and a few folks really happy. It was a good day, with few assholes and a sense that I am in fact good at this job.
  5. Skimmed half the chapter for my math homework while devouring banana bread and a cinnamon dulce.
  6. Made breakfast for the kid and made his lunch. Managed to do this while washing only the dishes absolutely necessary, and didn't gag when I moved the stuff in the sink around and got a whiff of the bottom of the dish water.
  7. refrained from calling the kid's father when I got two voicemails from the credit union about our outstanding loans. I can put it off til I see him this weekend, and it seems judicious not to stir up the pot when the kid will be there this evening.
  8. sent the email to the kid's teacher that I've been wanting to send for a while, asking if we can sit down and talk about how the kid says he's bored in school and hates math. hmmph. he also says that he wants to live at my house and his aunt's house only. i dunno.
  9. took the trash can and the recycling out. This is the recycling that's been building for weeks now in the windowsill and behind the dish drainer and behind the kitchen trash can. quite the achievement. Have not yet brought the trash can up from the curb.
  10. read some more of The Audacity of Faith. wonder if I'll get around to editing that letter and sending it?
  11. tried to call into two NPR shows today.
  12. Mailed the three things that I've been meaning to get in the mail all week.
  13. filled the car up. Now, this is a little bit of adding things to my list that I did, so that I can cross them off, but it's also one of those things that I tend to put off and off and off, when there's no real benefit to that. It's interesting that I am the child of a man who would fill the tank when it was half-full (because you just never know, he'd say) and I can't seem to move Gas-getting Day from Friday when it's empty to Wednesday, when it's not, because I won't do it til I have to.
  14. yelled at the cat 85 times for scratching stuff like the underside of my bed and the bottom of the closet door. that's why I bought y'all that ridiculous scratcher! See #2.
  15. Wished for someone to crack my back. It feels like everything's all bunched up around my spine around T3-T5 and I hate it! Maybe laying on my stomach and typing is not such a good idea.
  16. went to chorus. felt a little disconnected. remembered that the last time I was really there, I was really there and had a great experience of the energy in my throat. Mostly, I thought about my headache, my backache and
  17. Did a full repeat on the scarf I started for jane. it's looking really nice so far, and I think I'd like to try it with the bigger hook, so that it's less like flannel and more like lace. I don't know how advisable it is to change hooks in the middle of the river, though.
  18. Wrote a letter to jane about death. If I knew how to put things behind the cut, I would post it here. I think I'll just put it in an envelope and capitalize on my earlier success of Getting the Mail Out.
  19. Ate cheddar fries and a reuben from Arby's for dinner. I don't know if I was really hungry, or had a low hemoglobin, or what. I do know that the house where we sing was full of the smells of a delicious dinner. It smelled like the way my mom used to make chicken breasts, with a lot of lemon-pepper, on the broiler. whoa.
  20. smoked like six American Spirits today. they make me hurt. (hmmm, T3-T5, huh?) and they take longer than other cigarettes to smoke. I get bored halfway through, ready to go back to scurrying around. I really am gearing up for quitting.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Day 3 of Spring Break

  1. Didn't post anything to blog.
  2. Read about General Pace, his foot, and his morals.
  3. Played with this face thing for a while. the text is the best part to me - it's like personals mad libs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Eritrea is a cool word to say! and folks there use bread for forks!

On my second day of spring break:

  1. The campus bus drivers, as a group, were the most talkative that I've ever experienced. Usually, the drivers that serve my route are pleasant, but in a sharing-an-elevator way, with a nod and smile and sliding eye contact that doesn't demand anything else. I feel comfortable NOT making small talk with someone who is responsible for mine and many other lives. But today, they were all about the weather, and initiating the Have a great day! and Thanks, folks! and The S bus is broken down, so we'll be making one stop at Lennox and then resume our express service this afternoon. I wonder if there was some sort of in-service, or if spring break makes them sprightly.
  2. The director of the LGBTQ office on campus is absolutely on point! I made an appointment to talk with her about ideas for a project that I could submit for the SON's multicultural award (read: $1000 scholarship). I had some really vague stuff about men in nursing carrying a gay stereotype, and tracing the roots of that deeper. She started talking about best practices, and how in one study of very out college students, 46% of them stated they were not out to their health care provider. Which is huge! How can I provide adequate health care to a person when I don't know what sorts of things to be on the lookout for? And the curriculum, as I've seen it thus far, doesn't necessarily include those things to be watching for (one of which is apparently an almost 50% chance that you won't know the patient is queer, transgendered, etc.). There's a line in a textbook that up to 10% of my patients could be gay, and so don't ask questions like Are you married? that assume heterosexuality, but nothing beyond that. I'm excited. and she said that I have to watch a video called XXXY about two intersex people.
  3. I did about four hours of not very much in the library today. organized my pens. made a list of what I should do for each class in each week of the remaining semester. Did half of the two remaining homework assignments for my online Nutrition class. Found my Health Assessment textbook - which was a blast of good luck, since I didn't know I had lost it, and I have a test in there on the Thursday we get back. I also signed up for two shifts this week, which means that today was my only day to do all the catching up I thought I might do over spring break. Well, my prof did say to relax, right?!
  4. Had the most loverly evening with the kid. We went to Whole Foods and made big salads and had interesting conversations about the Red Sea and the Mediterrean and the Caspian and what countries border those. Is it normal for a first grader to have this kind of grasp of world geography? Do I need to get this kid tested or something? He hand-jives a lot, does that indicate that he's gifted? We picked out cupcakes from the dessert case, and pastries for breakfast, and just had a wonderful time in each other's company. We ate on a blanket out in the front yard, because it was stunningly beautiful outside, and the house is an utter shithole at the moment. He put together our new spinning rainbow flower thingy, and I laid on the grass and was happy and still.
  5. Got my second disk of the Facts of Life season one in the mailbox. Oh Blaire. Don't spend your time with those ridiculous boys, Jo will be along in a few short episodes for torrid sexual tension! I swear, this show is stupider than I remember, but I'm loving Ms. Garret more and more.
  6. Fart. Fart. Fart.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Break, Day 1

Starting at midnight-thirty this morning, I have:

  • played on the computer for hours and hours. I've learned about balut from john patrick (something I wish desperately that I could un-see) and injera (which inspired my dish created for my Food Sharing Assignment next Tuesday) and seen incredible works of art like the one above (which looks like I feel right this second, a thousand things swirling around, individually odd, but collectively beautiful, so that you have to lie down to properly appreciate).
  • spent many hours in bed. I stayed up til 4am, woke up at 11, and didn't truly get out of bed and shower until 2pm. What am I, like 15 or something?
  • shaved my legs. This is more monumental than it sounds, since the last time I shaved my legs was at least a year ago, possibly more. I have resisted the urge many times, like the day before we practiced bathing in Skills lab, and before I got a pedicure. The urge to shave is always to avoid having to deal with someone else's discomfort or embarrassment on my behalf and I can get over that. But I bought skirts for summer, and cute sandals. shrug.
  • shaved my head. It's been months, and I was really committed to the idea of growing it out long again. But yesterday the kid (who was the impetus for the grow-it-long again, because he said he couldn't remember me with long hair) said that it was cool with him, and now it's #4 guard on the sides and back, fingerlength on top and I can't stop rubbing my head again.
  • bought 4 skeins of Cascade quattro for a prayer shawl for my friend. She was my mother-in-law, did I divorce her as well? She's my son's grandmother. She is inspiring and kind and sharp. She is often opaque. She has cancer in her bone marrow, that is apparently a recurrent form of the breast cancer that necessitated a double mastectomy ten years ago.
  • dosed both cats with frontline, in hopes that the one that is allergic to fleas will stop eating himself on my bed. It is so hard to go to sleep with obsessive licking noises coming from the foot of the bed. Good night!
off to start my shawl and listen to john mayer.

Or search the internet and myriad knitting blogs for a pic of the exact shade of yarn I got today. blah. knitters are nuts.

It's a Big Big World

I was up till 4am reading at Obama's site, watching his YouTubes and typing a letter to him (which was embarrassingly autobiographical, and will need heavy editing before anyone but me and my cats see it). I finally got my copy of The Audacity of Hope from a long hold list at the library, and the library clerk told me that Obama is on her friends list on MySpace. How bizarre. It reminds me a bit of Clinton's sax playing on Saturday Night Live.

More than the intricacies of the internet, I'm a little shocked that politicians have time to write books. As I skim Audacity, I'm feeling grateful that this politician has written a book. It seems like a remedy for the sound bite. The idea of a sound bite offends me in part because I worry that someone (ie the politician) will think that I choose to get my information about a topic in that manner. I'd like the book, instead of the movie trailer. (Unless the trailer is for a two-hour documentary by Al Gore in which he sums up his life work thus far with heart-rending animation of floundering polar bears, in which case the movie will be an acceptable substitute, and the trailer a good teaser.)
An excerpt from The Audacity of Hope that caught me where I stood yesterday:

I understand the frustration of these activists. The ability of Republicans to repeatedly win on the basis of polarizing campaigns is indeed impressive. I recognize the dangers of subtlety and nuance in the face of the conservative movement's passionate intensity. And in my mind, at least, there are a host of Bush Administration policies that justify righteous indignation.
Ultimately, though, I believe any attempt by Democrats to pursue a more sharply partisan and ideological strategy misapprehends the moment we're in. I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. For it's precisely the pursuit of ideological purity, the rigid orthodoxy and the sheer predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face as a country. It's what keeps us locked in "either/or" thinking; the notion that we can have only big government or no government, the assumption that we must either tolerate forty-six million without health insurance or embrace "socialized medicine."
It is such doctrinaire thinking and stark partisanship that have turned Americans off of politics. This is not a problem for the right; a polarized electorate - or one that easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty dishonest tone of the debate - works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government. After all, a cynical electorate is a self-centered electorate.
Typing this out made me read much more carefully! I hadn't seen how skillfully he enumerates the tactics of the Republican party, while ostensibly discussing the habits that thoughtful citizens should avoid. And on my first and second reading of this passage, I kept thinking of that study about how narcissistic college students these days are.
But on this reading, I'm struck by how he has captured the feeling that I have when I hear Cheney say things like "The American people won't tolerate a policy of retreat." Actually, that's exactly what I'd like to request, sir, and furthermore, it makes me feel hopeless, excluded, and insulted to hear my exact sentiments negated. Yes, I feel Cheney is still dangerous. He's certainly dangerous in a foreign policy sort of way, but he's also psychologically dangerous to Americans, when he reinforces ideas that are not held by the majority, with that nasty sneering tone that dares anyone to countermand him. It's bullying, and it makes me feel useless.

I've used up my blog time getting all these links (why can't research papers be written with links instead of those pesky citations!), and I haven't got time to wax poetic about political crushes. I need to think that one through anyway before I post it - it may be a bit heterocentric.

And I need to remember to add Suzette Haden Elgin's LJ to my links, as she is certainly one of my Favorites. Check out the entry on March 4th. Good stuff. She makes me want to make new words.

early morning dream

The kid and I were getting ready for work. He and I were both going to an elementary school to teach that day - the kid was subbing in one class and I had another class across the hall. We taught in the morning, and then around lunch we went to the gym for a training session. People were set up in pairs all around the edges of the gym, one "teacher" and one student. At one point, my kid had a meltdown because he couldn't get his student to do the exercise. Another teacher was yelling at him (my kid) and I came over, sat down and pulled him into my lap and told her to leave him alone. He cried for a minute and then got up and went back to the exercise (something with magnetic letters on a board).
There was a very disturbing part where I was trying to figure out to buy some cigarettes, and I went online and found a convenience store that sold them, and ordered some, but when I went to pick them up, I realized that I had actually ordered some porn, and everyone stared at me for bringing my kid with me to buy porn. I tried to explain, but the fact that I was only buying cigarettes seemed just as bad and we left. The guy behind the counter kept leering at us and it was all quite creepy.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Reasons! The Reasons! The Reasons begin to fade

In my rush to get started on getting behind on my concurrent movie subscriptions, I ended up with Hitch twice. Will Smith would be my boyfriend if I was interested in having a boyfriend. Cliches? yes. Not enough nakedness? Of course. As feel-good as Pretty Woman was to me the first time? Indeed.

It also reminded me that for a couple years now, I've been aware of my pathetic music collection. I am not a person that buys CDs, because I can't afford them. I downloaded music for a while, but then felt like I didn't understand enough about the risks to keep doing it.

One ginormous Target shopping trip later, I have The Essential Earth Wind and Fire, Continuum by John Mayer (which I'm a little embarrassed by), and Licensed to Ill (which was my second cassette, Tiffany by Tiffany being the first). I'm psyched!

Of course, the kid walked into the bedroom and was all Mom, I turned off that music, I didn't like it.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

All My Babies


I arrived late to the screening of All My Births, and was graciously ushered in by the woman in charge. She said, I'm so glad you came, and you haven't missed the birth! The bit that I missed apparently set up the story of this rural midwife, practicing in Ga. in the 1950's. Part of the story (it's a scripted documentary, which is apparently pretty rare) was to follow one woman, who was actually a part of the community that Miss Mary served, and received good prenatal care. There was another woman who did not come for prenatal care, had had a history of stillborn premature babies and this character was portrayed by an actress.

The birth was incredible. The lead in was stunning. Long shots of Miss Mary scrubbing fingernails to elbows, and then still shots of her supplies laid out carefully around the bedroom on newspaper. She made this delicate little trash bag out of folded newspaper that she dropped her sterile gauze pads into after wiping the mother's vulva. Metal butter dishes filled with water and nailbrushes and more sterile gauze that had boiled on the wood stove. It was quiet, so quiet. There wasn't much moving around, either by Miss Mary or the laboring woman. The birth happens in real time on the film, from the crowning (which amazed me, because the head kept showing and then retreating, peeking out and then sliding back in, over and over!) to the delivery of the head, then shoulders, then slip the rest of the body, and there's a baby!

I cried as much about the tying of the cord as I did about the actual birth. Miss Mary said, "We're going to go on and cut you loose now, little one". I'm processing all the cardiovascular stuff we've been learning this week, about the rapid changes that occur as babies switch to breathing air from receiving the maternal oxygenated blood, and it had a much more emotional impact. Sometimes, learning the details of a process make it less real, more memorizable, more detached and clinical. To see this birth, and really understand what was happening within that child's heart while she's worked on him was astounding. I had to talk to myself about this very logically, because my first instinct was to think of the time in the birth canal like a code that would need to be called if it went on too long.

The sound was apparently all dubbed over, and that intrigued me. Was the filmmaker trying to make it easier to watch? Trying to emphasize that good births are quiet? Or trying to allow the visual to override the auditory? I was expecting more talking by Miss Mary, more chatter to calm the mother - but the chatter in my birthing room certainly didn't calm me, now that I think about it.

I had somehow gotten the impression that this film was intended as a cautionary tale, to show how backwards rural midwives were. And what the flyer that I picked up afterward said was that All My Births was intended to be a teaching tool for midwives of the time. The gracious woman from the Center for Documentary Studies said that the film has been deemed a work of art worthy of preservation into perpetuity, and seemed to think that a DVD might be available. Apparently, the filmmaker had made another film before this with a dry title like Contemporary Obstetrics Today that featured only white laboring women and clinicians. I'd be interested to see that, and see if they were hospital births, and how the two portrayals differed.

In other news, I think that my friend hung up on me today because I responded to her reports of nausea with a dissertation on borborygmi and the reflexive navel-clenching reflex.