Monday, December 31, 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Emergency Room Visit

Monkey woke up at about 8AM this morning. Well, more precisely, I woke her up, as I came down to check on her. She said her hands were hurting her, which we both knew, from the doctor's pre-discharge consultation, meant that her calcium level was low. This morning, however, there was the added wrinkle of muscle spasms. Her thumbs were bent in on her palms. She looked like she had a mean case of the Arthur-itis. This was not a good sign.

I convinced her to take a few Tums, hoping that maybe her level had just fallen overnight and that a couple of crunchy tabs of calcium goodness would make her hands feel better. After about an hour, it was clear that that was not going to be the case. She came upstairs to tell me that her hands hurt worse.

I called her surgeon, knowing that, on a Saturday, I was just going to listen to a recorded voice tell me to call another number. Which it did. Its first suggestion was 911. I figured that was probably too drastic. A moment later, after being told when regular office hours were, the voice told me the number to call "if you wish to speak to a doctor."

Of course, after calling the number, I strongly suspected that I was not talking to a doctor. However, the fellow I was talking to, after listening to my problem for a few minutes, asked me to hold on while he fetched a doctor. Now, it wasn't Monkey's surgeon, but, I was pretty sure he was more qualified than any person I had talked to or any recorded voice I had listened to at any point this morning.

His highly qualified opinion--low calcium level. His highly qualified suggestion--a trip to the emergency room to have Monkey's Ca level tested and, most likely, to get her a Ca infusion via IV.

After putting on our shoes and socks (Monkey stayed in her PJs), we were on our way to the hospital, again. Pulling into the ER parking area, it became clear that this was going to be a drop off procedure, since the lot was full. Monkey and her dad went into the ER while I swung around the corner to park in a patient/visitor parking garage. By the time I got back to the ER, Monkey was already in triage, getting her blood pressure checked and supplying the vital info (insurance policy number). In moments, she was off to get her test and IV. Monkey Dad and I found ourselves sitting in another waiting room. No free coffee, this time.

An hour passes as we wait. The waiting room distractor (also known as a TV) is tuned to the Spike Channel. We move from the end of some Hatfield v. McCoy-Patrick Swayze movie to a special on Ultimate Fighter Wanderlei "the Axe Murderer" Silva to Horse Power, a car show, on which the hosts install a $2000 electronic fuel injector into a 1966 Dodge Charger. I have signed another insurance form and been told that Monkey is "sleeping," but other than that, all I know is that I could easily install an EFI if I had an auto shop, a laptop, a 1966 Dodge Charger, and two thousand dollars.

At the conclusion of a second hour, after fighting with the vending machine and losing a dollar (at least we got a bag of potato skins out of it), a nurse brought us back to Monkey where she was receiving her IV.

Another hour and her IV was done, and, most importantly, she was feeling better. We go back to the surgeon on Monday to test our calcium again (it is an after-effect of disturbing the parathyroid). Until then, we are keeping our fingers crossed that Monkey doesn't wake up tomorrow morning with her fingers crossed.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Monkey Medical Update

Monkey came home from the hospital today, after a twenty-four hour stay. She is now minus one thyroid, and is slowly recovering from her surgery. She has been sleeping, mostly, so, it's not very exciting for me, but I am very happy that things have gone as smoothly as they have.

Our trip to the hospital was a positive one. All of the staff were pleasant (except the guy shoveling walkways, who yelled at me for trying to drive where he didn't think I should), and we never felt like we were waiting for long stretches of time for people to do things. They told us Monkey would be released in the morning, and at 10 o'clock, we were out the door. I expected to be there until after lunch.

Monkey now has a bandage on her throat, and some poke marks on her arms and hands from IVs and blood tests and such. Her throat is still sore from the tube they had down her throat. And, her calcium levels are a little less than the doctor would like, but she seems to be doing as well as can be expected.

We'll keep you updated as conditions warrant. Thanks for all the well wishes, thus far!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Closing Time

With less than a week before we shut the door on 2007 and welcome 2008, the sense that one should evaluate the past year is strong. If this were not true, why else would we be inundated with "Top Ten" and "Best Of" and "Year in Review" lists during this run through the calendar?

I am no different. I would love to generate a list, if only to feel that I had done my part for posterity. Summing up our short time on earth is one of the ultimate needs of humankind. Leaving a record of our experience, of our existence. I mean, doesn't everyone need to know what I think is worthy after this latest lap around the sun?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Here's my problem, no matter what anyone thinks: after about two weeks (if I am lucky) time begins to swirl together for me. It's as if my brain pool's temporal capacity is fourteen days or so, and after that, minutes, hours, weeks, months just spill over the sides and run together on the cement floor of my horological chamber. As a result, my list of "Top Ten" political events of 2007 could include anything from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacies to the Paris Peace Accords. My "Best Sports Moments" of 2007 could include anything from Missouri football's brief moment at #1 to Earl Morral's performance in leading the Baltimore Colts to victory in Super Bowl V. My "Best Movies" of 2007 might include Michael Clayton. It might include Michael Collins. You see where I am going with this, I am sure.

So, I will spare you my confused lists of our postmodern life in 2007. There are many places to go if you so desire to read such lists. You may go here. Or here. Or here. Or here. But you can't go here.

To appease those of you who simply can't get enough of the lists, here are my Top Ten Moments of My Own Personal Life (Which You May or May Not Be Able To Read And Say, "Hey, That Happened To Me, Too.") Which May or May Not Have Happened in 2007)).

10. The bemusing time I did that one thing that everybody laughed about the next day, but I couldn't remember doing it.

9. The hilarious time somebody said that one thing, but they meant something completely different, and it wound up changing the meaning of what they meant to something gross.

8. The mildly uncomfortable time that one girl asked me that weird personal question after I'd just met her, and I didn't want to be rude, so I kind of stammered some ridiculous answer.

7. The exhilarating, scary time those guys chased us down the alley because they thought I had made some obscene gesture at them, but, really, I wasn't even aware of their existence until they started chasing us down the alley.

6. The bizarre time we got that phone call at two in the morning, and the person on the other line was looking for that guy who used to live there, but he hadn't lived there for, like, three years, and the person on the other end of the line was sort of threatening the guy who didn't live there anymore, and I couldn't do anything but laugh.

5. The delightful time I woke up on that Spring morning and the sun was shining through the window, and it was warm on my face, and, for just a moment or two, I had no sense of needing to get anything done.

4. The wonderful time I lost that really important thing and thought I would be in really big trouble, until Monkey came in with it in her hand and said, "Is this what you were looking for?"

3. The troublesome night when I wound up walking home from the bar because somebody was being really weird, and I couldn't handle it.

2. The peaceful twilight I was wandering through the park and watching the bats fly around above my head in the darkening sky.

1. You know: the one time.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Greetings

Holiday greeting from Central Standard.

I want the same things for Christmas that I always do: real leadership, smarter citizens, greater class equity, increased social awareness, better music on the radio, true brother and sisterhood, a lasting peace, and cheaper beer.


Friday, December 21, 2007

One More Day (Begins With Procrastination)

Winter Break starts at 3:03 pm (Central). Make it through one more day, and we're off until Jan. 3. Not bad. But, here I sit, when I should be preparing for work, checking the score of last night's Navy-Utah "bowl" game (Navy lost--Boo), the weather (more snow on Saturday!), and generally procrastinating. But, in about four or five more minutes, we will realize the inevitable and endeavor to persevere (and take a shorter-than-usual shower).

It will be a unique (an unique?) holiday season, this year, as Monkey and I spend our first Christmas in Lincoln. We actually have a tree, this year (only our second in the last eight years), which we got last Sunday (in the snow) from a local tree farm (super cheap and local and fresh--can't beat that). Also making this a unique Yule: Monkey's dad will be coming out on the Eve and staying for about twelve days. It will be nice to have some family around. I hope he has an enjoyable time. Or, at least, as enjoyable a time as he can have, since the reason he is coming out is because Monkey is having her thyroid removed two days after Christmas.

That is what will make this the oddest year ever. I am worried a little (it is a medical procedure involving knocking Monkey out and cutting her open a little bit--I don't really like that idea), but I am also confident that all will be well (since this is sort of routine for the doctors and all). Monkey has made me promise that I would be confidently worried, and I will maintain that promise.

I have more to say on this unique Noel, but time is trickling away, and I have to face the reality of my situation: I must get to work!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The past weekend saw a reprise of the weekend before that and the weekend before that: me shovelling snow. The forecast promises with 40% accuracy that I may be doing the same thing this coming weekend. At least it's only two or four inches at a time.

I sit here typing this entry, knowing that my next one (after this one) will signal me reaching a goal that I set for myself. It is important to set goals. Without them, how will we know that we have achieved anything. For many the goals are small (remember that awful Bill Murray-Richard Dreyfuss film What About Bob?--"baby steps"). For others, goals are large (see Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or (sadly, a goal never to be realized) Dennis Kucinich--when Amy Pohler is playing you on SNL as Alfred E. Newman meets Alfalfa, you got no shot.

I have set several goals for myself this year, none of them explicitly voiced or even written down. Inside, however, I knew what I wanted to accomplish this year. I set birding goals: fifty Nebraska birds by the end of the year--nope, didn't get this one. Three hundred life birds--nope, not yet. I set school goals: survive this first year--so far, so good. Make it through first semester without physically assaulting a sophomore--I think I am going to make it. I set writing goals: finish a second novel: not even close. Finish revising last novel: did that.

My blog goal was decidedly unlarge. I wanted to post 120 times this year. That is an average of 10 posts per month, which goes about once every 3 days. I thought that was a reasonable goal. And, with my next post, it shall be realized.

Hooray for me!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mitchell Report Implicates Jesus!

As I drove home from work this evening, a litany of names was being read on the radio. I recognized most of them as Major League baseball players. I soon found out that they had all been named in a report on the investigations of steroid use in baseball. However, sandwiched in between Jack Cust and Tim Laker, I undeniably heard one other name. I, like Captain Renault in Casablanca, was shocked!

It was a long list, containing such luminaries as Andy Petitte, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Benito Santiago, and, yes, ladies and gentlemen, the son of God. Now, I am not surprised, nor disappointed in the baseball players, but Jesus? Come on.

In his defense, he is getting older. Maybe he's lost a step. Maybe he's not able to recover from injury as quickly as he used to when he ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Lord 2000 years ago. It's hard nowadays, making a place for everybody, especially now that there are over six billion people on the planet. Of course, the godless bastards in other countries and even this God-fearing Christian nation who deny Christ, they don't need a room, but that still leaves quite a few jasper-walled rooms to be vacuumed and gold-posted beds to be turned down.

But, still, you like to see your trinity members working the cosmological action naturally. Who wants to hear that the Holy Ghost is juiced? Who wants to hear that God is popping bennies? I don't.

Honestly, I wish it was baseball season. I am so disappointed now, I am thinking of denying Christ...three times! And the only thing that will make me feel better is watching a baseball game. I hope there's one on ESPN Classic.

Tomorrow, we'll discuss the moral, ethical, and spiritual implications of Alex Rodriguez being paid $527 million over twenty years.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Random Words

Poetry is something I've always been a fan of. Maybe, dare I say it, it is one of the things that I am as close to passionate about as I get. There: I didn't really say it.

In the past, I have always incorporated a great deal of poetry into my school day. Nearly every day, we interacted with a poem. The kids and I read it, analyzed it, wrote it, spoke it, shared it. It is my favorite kind of literature to "play" with, both as a reader and a writer.

This year, I have done much less of it. For a lot of reasons that I am not about to get into. However, for the past several weeks (even if the "Currently Teaching" links don't show it) we have been working on poetry (and reading Cat's Cradle).

That, of course, gets me interacting with more poetry, and, in turn, it gets me writing more, mostly as exercises with the students, but, on my own, as well. It is inevitable: the more you immerse yourself in it, the more it pours out of you. I'm like a sponge, that way.

Anyway, today in class, we worked on "Random Word Poems." I saved all of my pages from my "Word A Day" calendar, and I dealt out one word to each of them. Their task was to write a poem that had something to do with that word. They could include the word in their poem. They could write about the word. They could write about how the word made them feel, what they thought of when they first saw the word. They could do just about whatever they wanted. Some of them were pretty good for first drafts dashed off in fifteen minutes. As always, I wrote with them. My word was "hydromancy," which is divination through the use of liquid (usually water). Or something like that. And, here is my poem:


My grandmother read the portents
in the tea leaves.
My mother told others' fortunes
with the tarot.
I use hydromancy to
divine futures.

With every flush

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Planet Hoth North?

It's a snow day here in Cornopolis. A good deal of rain fell overnight, freezing upon landing. Every tree and bush, every car and trash can, every lamppost and street sign, is coated in about 5/8" of ice. It looks awfully pretty, but, I am glad I don't have to drive in it.

It appears that my CoMo companions are halfway to fulfilling Aunt James' prediction. Good for them. I am right certain that tomorrow will be biz as usual around here, but we'll see.

After last year's winter weather, which saw a long stretch of super cold, and frozen ground for weeks, I wonder if we might have to add yet another informal nom de guerre to this area that we Monkeys call home. Only time and temperature will tell.

I hope everyone out there is safe and warm. I know some of you had to go to work today. I am sorry about that. I truly am.

Monday, December 10, 2007

(a poem)

I don't often do this, but I am of a mind today.

Gertrude Stein (A Meditation On) Charles Olson

Is she the most underrated expatriate poet of the 20th century?
Is the most overrated expatriate poet of the 20th century she?
A hanger-on to the European artists of the 20th century is she?
Is 20th century from the she?
She 20th century is?
20th century.
She large/
In. Charge. In.
Barge. Barging.
In blood.
Around salons saloons.
In pantaloons.
Whitman's famous beard. Have you heard?
Was fifty-four.
Fifty-four was four with four
and forty-six.
This is a meditation on Gertrude Stein.
Who did.
Not have a beard.
This meditation is on.
Meditation is.
An exhausted use of syntax
taxed with the 20th century.
Breaks free and bows to her brother
as he walks through the door
back toward
backwards toward
Pennsylvania to Paris.
Oakland to Black Mountain.
Without experience.
Eating a subject.
Eating her.
Subject one.
Landing the land onto the land
Floating to three.
Olson comes to.
Comes to.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Who's in Charge of Scheduling Around Here?

It snowed today. A quick four inches fell, mixed with some sleet and sundry freezy precip, making the roads treacherous. However, the timing could not have been worse for those of us in the edumucation biz.

As I stopped into Panera to get a cup of coffee at 6:45, not a flake was falling, not a bead of sleet was pinging from my car's hood. It was just cold. Really cold. The forecast was for a wintry mix, but nothing was happening at first light. I got to school and settled in. There are few windows in the academic wings of my building, so I was working on last minute lesson plan notes at 8 am, completely unaware that in the hour that I had been there, it had started actively snowing. Heavily.

We got about an inch an hour until twelve. Monkey called me at school to tell me that it was bad out and that she had cancelled the rest of her day. That is saying something. Monkey is generally fearless about the weather, so, I figured if she were giving up on the day, it must have been bad.

The day was a bit of a task, as it was all we teachers could do to keep our charges' minds out of the snow and focused on their work (a hard task on a normal day). But, we managed. After four hours of snowless skies, I cleaned off the car and headed home. It was a slippery adventure, as the roads were slick and icy. Even the relatively clear ones seemed to have a skein of ice on them. But, slowly and carefully, we made it home in one piece.

Of course, when I got home, I had to shovel the walks and the driveway. The driveway is slopey. Monkey couldn't get the Penguin into the garage, and I nearly ended up on my butt several times as I cleared the way for her and the vehicle. But, mission accomplished.

So, I got all the headache of a good snow, without the payoff. I know Aunt James would be pissed about that. By the way, I see it's snowing/icing in CoMo. A snow day for my brothers and sisters on the other side of the Big Muddy?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Jersey Midwest?

After a lull on the rodent-terror front (yes, I am placing the little guys on the Axis of Evil--it's the only American thing to do), thanks in large part to the surge in trap strength that has led to the demise of enough mice/Jihadists to make a quincunx, I was today assaulted as I walked out of my school building to head home in the near dark.

Now, don't get too excited. Nobody slugged me. Nobody pulled a weapon on me. I was not, as Uncle James likes to say, a "victim of crime." No, ladies and gents, I was assaulted olfactorily. As the musty smell of manure descended upon my nasal passages (or, perhaps, they ascended up my nasal passages, eh?). I was on the phone with Monkey at the time, and she confirmed that our town smelled like cow shit.

This is not the first time this phenomena has been noted by yours truly, but it is the first time it has been corroborated in real time. I know we are in agricultural-type territory, but one would think a town of this size wouldn't smell like a feed lot (okay, maybe that is a bit harsh, but still...).

So, I guess we need to add a new alert to the scale. Just above (or below) PoP, we have to place....wait for it...PooP.