Saturday, May 29, 2010


I passed a number of patients on gurneys as I walked just to the left and behind the hospital employee. She led me to an open area which had space for about six patients. She pointed me to a spot and opened the curtain a bit where I saw the lady who I first met 14 years ago this summer.

She was conscious, but had a neck brace on. I don't know about you, but it's not a pretty sight to see a loved one in such a contraption. A couple nurses were asking her about the level of pain she was experiencing. She was throwing out numbers like 7 and 8. I noticed some bruises, or burns perhaps, on each of her hands. It was then that she was able to tell me a bit about what had happened.

She had just purchased a combo meal from Mickey D's (with a chocolate shake, no less) and was on her way home. She was stopped at an intersection. When the light turned green, she accelerated and was immediately sideswiped by an SUV (my wife was in a sedan). The airbag immediately deployed, but she was able to get over to the side of the road so that no one else could hit her. She gave a brief report to police before being sent to the hospital.

When the nurses completed their assessment, my girl was shipped off to Radiology where she was to get X-ray'd from head to toe. I spent the time reading a book called "Leaving the Saints". It's about a woman who quit being a Mormon when her definition of God exceeded that of the church, not to mention because she'd been abused as a child by her father, a prominent Latter-Day Saint.

She returned about 30 minutes later and we waited for the results of the scan. The nurse said she had something for the pain my wife was experiencing; it was something called Tordol. The RN said the potion would work faster if the needle was put into her upper thigh. She said it was gonna hurt as she stuck it in. As my girl grimaced, I said, "It'll be worth it".

A short time later, I headed for the bathroom and noticed an Asian lady spraying some aerosol into a restroom. I commented, "That's your favorite part of the job, isn't it?" She smiled. I also stopped by the gift shop for a few minutes where I got a blast from the past. They had a number of Invisible Ink books called Yes and Know.

I remember my mom buying them for me as a kid to give me something to do on road trips. I was tempted to buy one, but felt it could wait, happy enough at the memories that it brought back.

As I returned to the room where my love had been placed, I noticed that she was stationed in Acute Care as opposed to Critical Care. No wonder I hadn't heard anyone screaming; I was in the boring section. "Grey's Anatomy" wouldn't have lasted six eps if they'd focused on those in this area.

My wife's tests came back and she had no breaks. The worse injury she sustained (other than having to see my ass for at least a few years more) was a strained ligament in her right thumb. This and the burns she sustained were actually from the airbag deployment. She was fitted with some new-fangled device called an airbrace. Damn, her injuries came about from the airbag and now she was supposed to be healed by an airbrace. Well, I guess if air caused the injuries, it would only be appropriate that it be used to heal them. She was discharged about an hour later and all was well.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the shop where her car is at to pick up some items that she might need (sunglasses, garage door opener, Backstreet Boys CD) as it's ascertained whether the car is totaled or not; most likely, it is. I had to chuckle when I saw her McDonalds's combo still sitting on the passenger seat, uneaten. I couldn't resist bringing it home and setting it on the kitchen counter. My wife asked why I did this. All I could do was smile.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Call

I was getting ready for work yesterday afternoon when I received a call from my wife; she'd been in a car accident, the car was totaled, and she was being ambulated to the local hospital. I said I would be right there. I quickly wondered how badly she'd been injured. The fact that she was speaking was a good sign.

I notified work that I wouldn't be able to come in. I set some food out for the pets not knowing how long I'd be in hospital. Next, I brought along a book that I'd been reading just in case there was gonna be some downtime while there (a quite likely possibility).

As I prepared to leave, I realized that this would be an excellent opportunity to put my spiritual beliefs in action, specifically, that nothing happens that isn't supposed to and that all circumstances are avenues for growth. I was able to stay relatively calm as I drove into the city. I was listening to a prank call CD during the 10-minute drive. I did laugh at one point while listening.

I passed the area where she said the "accident" took place. The police were still questioning people and I saw her car parked on the side of the road with a number of owies (the "mishap" happened just 9 blocks from the hospital). I found an above-the-ground parking spot and walked to the ER as the sun brightly shone. I walked in and waited in line to speak to an ER attendant.

A few minutes later, I gave an older hospital employee my wife's name. She said that her name hadn't shown up yet. A minute later, she said that it had, but that no room had been assigned for her yet. She told me to wait a few minutes and I would be called when a room was ready. I was a tad nervous, but mostly placid knowing that what happened had happened (that's what they say on "Lost") and that there were only two ways in which to deal with the aftermath: either with fear or with love. It was just then that my bowels released.

Kidding. I headed over to a computer and thought of a website to visit while I waited. It took a good minute before I settled on Facebook. I was tempted to go to my wife's page and write "---- ---- was in a car accident", but thought better of it. I took a look at my Facebook news feed and found some relatively inconsequential statuses, so headed to my favorite movie website. Just then, the older lady said that my wife's room had been assigned and, after giving me a visitor pass, led me there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Eating Turkey Makes You Sleepy

I browsed through a book yesterday called "Don't Swallow Your Gum! - Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health". It debunks a number of common misconceptions that many people hold to be true.

One is that we only use 10 percent of our brain. If this were true, it would not be a big deal to hurt various parts of your brain. In reality, you will be affected by damaging almost any region of your noggin.

Another is that you should shit (or poop, for the more sensitive among us) at least once a day. Constipation is actually defined as having less than three movements in a week. This reminds of something amusing I witnessed at a psych ward a number of years ago. I was visiting a patient there on a regular basis and each evening, the patient would be asked if they'd had a bowel movement that day. Some of the nurses would just go up the person and say, "Did you....?" Talk about embarassing, for both parties, I gather.

Course, we all know that cold weather doesn't make one sick. Vitamin C was also debunked at being able to keep a cold at bay. Another classic is that men think about sex every seven seconds which is patently ridiculous. This would translate to thinking about sex over 57,000 times a day. That's about as many times as a person breathes while awake. Someone thinking about sex that much would be incapable of performing any other tasks.

There is also a persistent belief that eating at night makes you fat because it doesn't give you any time to burn off those calories before going to bed.

I know this isn't a truism as I eat the bulk of my calories after 9pm. I have several food items, in fact, every night just before going to bed; typically a Smart Ones pizza, a couple Oreo Cakesters, some chips, and a Nutri Grain bar.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Time Well Spent

There are those who say that life would be better if we didn't have to sleep, that those extra eight hours could be spent in much more fulfilling ways. I am not one of those people. The dreams I had last night should shed plenty of light on why this is the case.

In the first sequence, I was walking on some steps in the early evening and started talking to a lady whom I worked with about ten years ago. She began talking to a woman who I recognized from junior high and it was just then that I noticed a lady who I'd had a crush on as a 12-year old (She was now a late 30's adult). She was making her rounds for the night which consisted of skiiing over various hills to get to her work location.

Imagine my joy when she asked me to accompany her. The two of us talked as we headed to her work site. Once there, she showed me the task she'd been assigned. It involved melting ice blocks with some type of torch. She asked if I was interested in a similar vocation. I declined, but mentioned how much fun it had been to spend time together. Waking up, it really felt like we had chatted each other up and made a connection, something that's not very plausible in the real world.

On my next sojourn, I was outside the house of worship that I went to as a child. Someone asked me to come in, but I was a bit nervous. I somehow knew that it was 1986 and by that time, I was no longer involved in the organization. Just then, I said to myself, "It's not 1986, it's 1984!"

(Yes, that is Steve Jobs pictured above)

With my conscience soothed, I entered the building and talked with a number of people I hadn't seen in quite some time.

The last stop was a house in which I was able to spend some time with my Saint Bernard, Brandy, the one who passed five years ago this summer. I got to hold her, squeeze her, whisper in her ears. It was all very real to me and, therefore, easy to understand why I woke up in such a good mood.

If I was given an extra eight hours to spend each day, it would most likely be spent in front of various rectangular devices (the TV, the internet, cell phone). Those kinds of things are a poor substitute, in my mind (pun intended), to experiencing lifelong dreams come true in my dreams.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cool Explosions & The End of Suffering

Because of my high-school fainting spells, I had to steer clear of Biology classes in college. That didn't leave a lot of options when it came to getting my science classes in. I took a couple classes in Geology in my first year or two of college, but it was awfully dry (pun intended).

I heard through the grapevine that there was an older dude who taught Chemistry and actually made it fun (I was only able to pass Chemistry in high school because of the ridiculously generous curve Mr Johnson gave us). Word was that he was quite humorous and had really cool small explosions that he enlightened the class with. The name of the course was Chemistry Appreciation. I decided that if I got in over my head, I could just drop the class.

On the first day, I found a seat and waited for the professor to appear. Just then, there was a burst of smoke at the front of the room and he appeared amidst it. I felt like I was at Hogwarts, if it had been invented back then, that is. Oh, who am I kidding? He arrived like every other prof usually does.

The first day of classes is always interesting in that you never know if the teachers will be a joy to learn from or insufferable bores that will be a slog to make it through the quarter with (Semesters weren't adopted until a couple years after I graduated). Fred Foss had a great sense of humor and must've been in his late 60's or higher. He said that he planned to live a LONG time, that the best revenge is to outlive others. He mentioned that there were strategies one could use to help make this possible, not least of them, whiskey and a broad.

Seriously, he said that he'd not been sick in many years and one of the reasons he believed this was so is because of the high amount of vitamin C he ingested every morning. Back then, I caught a cold or flu at least a few times a year, so was more than willing to give his suggestion a try. I wound up buying a bottle of vitamin C that had 500mg tablets, significantly higher than what the FDA recommended (I believe Foss took an even higher dose).

Time passed and Mr. Foss performed many of the tricks, I mean, illusions, I mean experiments that I'd heard about. He made Chemistry more fun than I thought possible. And as the months passed, I did, indeed, get sick much less frequently: It should also be noted that I never get the flu shot.

When I hear that others are suffering with a cold or the flu, I sometimes opine that it wouldn't hurt for them to up their intake of vitamin C. It mostly falls on deaf ears. I'm not sure if they don't believe that it will work or are just of the mind that suffering is next to Godliness, but I always shake my head when I hear that there are bugs going around as they never seem to strike me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Forgive Me, Father, For I Have Sinned

Have you ever done something that you know you shouldn't (like looking at the reflection of your ass in the toilet bowl)? One afternoon in the early 90's, I was walking on 3rd Street in my hometown. I passed a phone booth (remember those?) and something caught my eye. I turned around and went into the booth. There was a wallet inside. I took a look around to make sure no one was watching and opened it. There was more than one hundred dollars inside!

I looked at the guy's ID. He was a twenty something college student. He must've called for a ride the night before and was so wasted that he forgot his wallet. The wheels started turning in my head. I knew I shouldn't, but decided that if I could get away with it, I would. I was most afraid that someone might be watching me, so hesitated for a minute or two. Finally, I decided to go for it. I took da moolah out of the wallet and put it into my pocket. I got an adrenaline rush and walked relatively quickly back home.

I got home and looked at the cash. This was extra money. I could do anything I wanted with it. I mostly treated myself with it, went out to eat, bought cassettes. I assume the wallet itself eventually found its way back to its owner (I just left it there). If that happened to me now, I'd turn both the money and the wallet in to the police or place an ad in the paper (remember those?). Back then, however, I was a poor, somewhat morally compromised college boy. Sometimes I miss those days.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


I just finished reading Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, a tome on why it is that we tend to suck so hard at predicting what will make us happy. One of the many interesting things I read in the book had to do with events that we can't make sense of:

"If an event defies explanation, it becomes an mystery or conundrum and if there's one thing we all know about mysterious conundrums, it is that they generally refuse to stay in the back of our minds. Filmmakers and novelists often capitalize on this fact by fitting their narratives with mysterious endings, and research shows that people are, in fact, more likely to keep thinking about a movie when they can't explain what happened to the main character. And if they liked the movie, this morsel of mystery causes them to remain happy longer."

Two of my favorite movies from last year (A Serious Man & Up In The Air) had endings in which I didn't know what was to become of the main character (Up In The Air's ending was just that), but did I chastise the movie screen for this?

Nope, it only added to the allure. Another fave, 2002's Unfaithful with Richard Gere, ended with Gere in his SUV in front of a police station contemplating if he was going to turn himself in for an accidental murder or leave the state with his family.

Sometimes I try to fill in the blanks and say what I believe the character wound up doing. Other times, I just smile and say, "Hey, that's the way life is sometimes". Like the author says, these types of endings almost always cause me to think more about the film than I typically would. I'm aware that there are those who get frustrated by unresolved denouements. My advice to them is to stay the hell away from indie films and stick with the lowest-common-demoninator stuff.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Love & Joy on a Spring Evening

The time has come for me to discuss the concert I went to last month (this was where I saw the TV monitors that were placed over the urinals; I wonder if the women has these as well or if they were shit outta luck). Way back in 1993, I was friends with a cool girl named Candy; it was platonic, she had a boyfriend at the time. While visiting at her apartment one evening, she placed a cassette in the stereo she had. It was by the Indigo Girls.

Back then, I was exclusively into country music, but something about these two dames and their silly folk music appealed to me, so it wasn't long before I bought the cassette myself.

A couple months ago, I was in the break room at work and saw that the Girls were gonna be in town in late April. I was not at all familiar with their music post 2002, but after thinking about it some, decided that I'd like to see them if I could get reasonably good seats. Tickets were to go on sale Friday morning, but I was working that day. What to do?

I noticed on Ticketmaster's website that there would be a special pre-sale for radio station listeners. I headed to the station's site and got the password. The pre-sale had been going on for about an hour already, but surely the seats still open would be better than what would be available on Friday. I was able to get a seat in the 9th row on the floor. Not bad. Being Ticketmaster, there were a shitload of fees, but hey, it's better than going downtown and getting them.

A couple years after I got into the Girls, I found out they were lesbians. Some chick in a college newspaper had mentioned this. For years, I thought they were a couple until I recently found out that they have other partners, not each other.

It was so nice to be going to a concert in town, no driving to the Minneapolis area. I knew there would be a lot of women at the show, probably some lesbians as well. As I prepared to enter the concert hall, I saw my old psychiatrist, Dr. Smick; she had started prescribing me happy pills in 1993, the same year that I first got into the Indigo Girls. This is what Carl Jung would call a synchronicity. I guess it pays to be a doctor as she had front row seats. I also noticed a lady in the front row who used to be a co-worker of mine. She said one day, a couple years ago, that she'd seen the Girls in the Twin Cities the night before. She was a repeat offender.

Overall, there were about 2 girls for every guy there. In the lobby, there was some kind of thing that one could sign up for to get a GLAAD-type publication. And, indeed, there were quite a number of gals who favored the fairer sex there. As the show progressed, a lady in front of me put her arm around the woman next to her. On my left, a young woman put her hands on the lap of the lady she'd come with. Whenever the Indigo's alluded to being gay, there was a cheer that came forth from the balcony as if to say, GirlPower!! (here's a link to illustrate what I'm talking about). This, I thought, is the way it should be, people expressing who they are and loving whomever they wish.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire

I talked to a man last night who is of retirement age. He mentioned that he makes less than $25,000 a year. My first thought was, "Wouldn't it be nice if he had a little more money to have at his disposal in his twilight years?", but then realized that there are very few things that one truly needs to live a fulfilling life.

The person making $100,000 a year in their 60's may have a nicer bedroom set and a kick-ass TV, but I would think that, at that age, the most precious resource is time. Time to just put one's feet up, relax, maybe have a Cristal. Many of us spend a lot of time thinking of ways to maximize the amount of money we have saved for retirement, but regardless, we all have our social security money to fall back on, not to mention medicare for our health needs (U.S. residents only).

In our pre-retirement days, we seek to save as much as we can, but once we hit 65 or 67, do we still keep it up? Do we assume that we're going to make it to 85? There are many who pass mere months after they retire. How much do we want to risk leaving on the table? You gotta feel for the rich folks. There's something's wrong with a person dying with more than a million dollars to their name. They either forgot that you can't take it with you or thought they were gonna live forever.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

How I Got Into Blogging

One afternoon, in the summer of 2006, I was hanging out at movie critic Harry Knowles' website Aint It Cool News. I'd been a faithful fan of his since the dawn of the millenium.

In one of his postings, he mentioned that his thoughts could also be found at a place called MySpace. Curious, I headed over there, but was a tad disheartened when I read that one must be a member in order to go to other members' sites (This may not be the case any longer).

Wanting to check HisSpace out, I answered a few questions and created MyOwnSpace (alright, I'll stop with the puns). Once a member, I read some of his material which was interesting, but certainly not earth-shaking. I then toyed with the thought of getting some mileage out of my own account, so posted some random thoughts on one of my favorite subjects, movies; in this particular instance, films that were being released that summer (you can read it here).

A day later, I wrote eight sentences about the wonders of the Sonicare toothbrush. I started a regular series in which I discussed my favorite movie of every year, starting with 1980. About a month later, I logged onto MySpace to post another probably movie-related entry and was surprised to find that my content had apparently been erased. Yikes! A few hours later, it was back, but a bit frightened by what had happened, I decided to migrate to a forum more conducive to blogging. more than fit the bill and I've been there ever since. My writing has certainly evolved over the years; I shudder at times to read some of my early posts.

One of the first entries to really make me aware of the therapeutic nature of writing and being able to share it with the world was called "Rollingstone", an account of a trip I took in the early aughts to the grade school I attended as a child (for the full entry, click here). Below are a couple of my favorite sections of it; the first dealing in humor, the second in pathos, two components which I continue to rely upon as we approach the halfway point of 2010.

"I walked into the old gym where I used to play M*A*S*H (dodgeball) and eat lunch from my "Empire Strikes Back" lunchbox. It was the damnest thing. The whole building seemed smaller to me. The school had shrunk over the past two decades. Yeah, right. Of course this was because when I attended the school, I was a bit shorter. Now having grown to my full height, everything seemed smaller when, in fact, it was me that had gotten bigger (in more ways than one, well, not really)."

"I headed back down the steps and left the building, a building where I had spent so many hours of my formative years. I took one last look, wistfully recalling those days that seem like a lifetime ago. I got into my car and headed back to my life in Rochester, a life that I quite enjoy, but please excuse me if sometimes I wish I could go back to where it all began, when everything was new, and happiness was going to follow me for the rest of my days."