Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

1983, thirty weeks pregnant, and I decide I need a dog. Larry asks me in a rather pissy manner, “Sally, you don’t like animals, why the hell do you want a dog?” It was fairly obvious he was not in favor of this addition I thought so necessary to our little family. Well, hormone induced tears and two nights on the couch went a long way towards changing that attitude. Forget the fact we lived in a second story apartment and the snow was currently crotch level, I needed a damn dog. How would our family pictures look without a little lab puppy in them? Certainly not like anything from “Parenting” magazine. This baby needed a puppy to grow up with, I knew without a doubt it was not going to have brothers and sisters. Screw the fact that I’m allergic to fleas, there will be a dog in this house before I birth this baby!

Off we go on the puppy search. Larry is half hearted into this at the best, but I really don’t give a crap. This quest, this mission of a crazy pregnant lady, will not be over until I find one that makes me happy. Struggling newlyweds, baby on the way, and I don’t give a shit how much we have to spend on gas and food. We are not settling for just any dog, we are having a black lab puppy. Now I am not totally unreasonable, it just has to be a mutt that looks like a lab, I’m not asking for a full bred one. We grab an Uncle Henry’s and I start reading. The very first ad and I’m laughing so hard I piss myself. “Wanted to trade: 2 hard running beagles for a gun. Don’t care what kind, need to shoot the weasel in my cellar.” Well since we neither had a gun nor wanted “2 hard running beagles”, that one was out. There were a few with promise though; “lab mix puppies” seemed to be available in various locations throughout the state. Drive, oh my God, did we drive.

First stop; Troy, Maine. We pull into this house, I guess it was a house, it had four walls and a roof covered with blue tarps held on by tires. Just as I go to open the truck door, a frigging turkey charges me. Make no mistake, this was no ordinary turkey. This thing had survived the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island. Its’ wattle was mangled and flapping up and down, half it’s beak was missing, and the guttural sounds coming out of it could be likened to dying zombie. Now I’m in the truck, screaming, Larry is standing outside trying to fend off this attack turkey, and out of the house (and I use that term loosely) comes a person. Long, black, greasy hair, jeans with mud all over them, and to this day I still don’t know if it was a woman or a man with man boobs. “What can I do you folks for?” Larry starts to explain why we’re there, and I’m in the truck hissing “not here, we’re not getting one here.” “Never mind,” he sighs and gets back in. “What the hell is wrong with you?” he bellers. “Chicken lice are what’s wrong” I sniffle, and immediately he looks at me like my next stop will be the mental hospital. So, now I have to explain to him that fowl such as turkeys have chicken lice and I will not have a dog that has been exposed to chicken lice. For chrissakes, he knows I’m allergic to fleas, can’t he figure out what havoc chicken lice could create. Back to the Uncle Henry’s for another look see at the ads. Stop Two; Arundel, Maine (did I mention I didn’t care how far we had to travel for this puppy). We pull into the driveway, nothing fowl or otherwise seems to be in attack mode, so out we get. A pleasant lady answers the door (in 1983 people opened their doors to total strangers), and we explained we were there about the puppies she had advertised. “Right this way” she says and leads us towards the back of the house. As we get closer, we can hear a dog growling. This was no I wonder who’s coming growl, this was a come around that corner and I’ll rip your leg off growl. Did I mention, not only do I not really like animals, and am allergic to fleas; I’m scared of just about 99% of the canine population? The lady can see the look of terror on my face and assures me the dog is friendly, but she will lock it up just in case. Friendly, my ass, the growl has escalated to a not only will I rip your leg off, but I will tear your heart out immediately after, tone. We make it to the puppies in the box, and there lay six little doberman, pit bull, rotweiller mix puppies. A blind person could have seen there was no lab in these dogs. “Maam”, I inquire very politely, do these puppies have any lab in them?”, ever mindful of menacing growl in the next room. She launches into a long convoluted explanation, that to make a long story short, narrows it down to some time about 1930, one of their ancestors had been had been part lab. Foiled again, there is absolutely no way one of these spawn of Mama Devil in the next room are coming home with me. Back to the truck and Uncle Henry’s we go. Considering the fact we started in Wells, drove to Troy, and are now back in Arundel with no puppy, I don’t think I need to explain what Larry’s patience level is at this point. After considerable discussion (during which time he could have been driving), we head off to investigate the next ad. This one had promise, it even mentioned that the father’s line had been AKC registered at one time whatever that meant. Stop Three: Boothbay Harbor. As we pull in two little girls are playing with a lab looking black dog in the front yard. I’m all grins, Larry’s blood pressure drops back in a range compatible with life, and out of the truck we get. I ask one of the little girls if her parents are home (they are) and if the dog she playing with is the mother or father of the puppies they have (it’s the mother). Into the house we go with no fear for life or limb. The little girl’s mother takes us to a box with two of the cutest little puppies I had ever seen. Not knowing a damn thing about dogs, I would have sworn they were full bred labs. I pick them up, coo over them, and make a decision. It is a little black ball of fur with big blue eyes, (I have no idea they will turn brown). I am clueless if it’s even a boy or a girl, but I don’t care, it will not be making any babies with me as an owner. Spay or neuter, either way this little one will never be a parent. The decision is made, and home we head. Larry can taste the Budweiser waiting in the frig for him.

The bad news for him is this puppy quest is not over. We need a collar, we need a leash, we need a kennel, and the list continues to grow. We stop at Woolworth’s for supplies, but someone has to stay in the truck with the yet to be named puppy. Larry grudgingly agrees to stay and off I go for puppy necessities. Forty five minutes later I return to find the puppy has won Larry over, I however am still on his shit list. “Just exactly how long does it take to go to one section of a damn store and buy a half a dozen things?” Obviously, he has no concept of the right collar with a leash to match and the importance of puppy toys. As we start the drive home, the discussion turns to the naming of the puppy. We can’t agree on anything, though Larry has told me it’s a girl so I haven’t suggested Duke or the such. It had taken us about twenty minutes to agree on both a boys’ and a girls’ name for our baby, but an hour later we still haven’t agreed on a name for the dog. As we are turning down the road to our apartment a song named “Ebony and Ivory” came on the radio. “Ebony”, I shouted, that is the perfect name for her. For the first time, since puppy quest 1983 started Larry agreed with me. Ebony, it was. As I got out of the truck, I had a fantastic idea (or so I thought). “How about we got a yellow lab puppy and name it Ivory?” was my simple question. The murderous look on his face told me that no amount of hormone induced tears, real or fake, was going to make that happen in this lifetime. Ebony would just have to be Ebony, with no Ivory.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall 2009 and another EMT Basic class to teach. I walk into the classroom and there sit twenty people. Oh my God, you expect me to teach these people how to be EMS providers? The first thing I need to teach them is that boobs hanging out of shirts tend to give men who already have chest pain full blown freakin’ heart attacks. Come on, seriously now, does the dude with pink hair and bones through his nose really think ma` ma` is going to let him within 100 feet of her? I look around and most of them haven’t even taken the books out of the wrapper; what part of their syllabus didn’t they understand? Read Chapters one, two, and three for class one isn’t rocket science for chrissakes. Well the challenge begins; can I make these twenty people EMS providers in 16 weeks?

I stand up front, introduce myself, and this snot nose little 18 year old whines, “how come I have to call you Ms. Taylor, my other teachers let me call them by their first name?” Well bully for them I think; to him I reply through gritted teeth, because that is what I prefer to be called. Like I owe him a damn explanation for my name. Now their introductions begin and I’m sure I’ll be ready to take a knife to my throat before the twenty of them are done. “I want to help people, I love excitement,” and my personal favorite; “I can’t be a firefighter unless I have a basic license.” Yeh, all great reasons, but let me tell you how it is, “Lives will be saved, and cute little babies will be delivered, but never ever on your shift.” As for the firefighter, fantastic freakin’ reason; they are making you learn how to take care of people, I’m sure you will be great at this!” We start lecture on Chapter one and just about two of them have read the material. Great start to an already long day. The other eighteen are just shocked the can’t participate in discussion, hence the reason you got the syllabus at least two weeks before class started. The blank stares and open mouths are more than I can handle at the moment so I send them on a break. Maybe no one will come back and I get the rest of the day off. Paddy Murphy’s here I come!

Break is over and they all come back. Great! Lecture starts for chapter two and five minutes in three students are asleep at their table snoring. My hopes are high for them (not so much). When they get TB because they slept through the lecture on how not to, they best not come running to me. My give a care factor will be ZERO. Time for a group activity and I count them off into groups of four. The pissing and moaning are almost deafening. “I want to be with Suzie, she’s my friend.” I don’t even know him; I sat next to Joe so we could work together.” I explain to them, once again through gritted teeth, that in the big people world we don’t always get to choose who we work with, so suck it up and get on with it. Thank God Chapter two is over and I can send them to lunch. I head out to my car and pull out the flask under the seat and take a swig. Jose` will certainly dull the pain of this group a little bit. I may have to consider having a second flask on hand for this semester. Two swigs, a couple smokes, a little nap and back I go. Give me strength or bail money; I still have three hours to go.

Back from lunch they come, I look around and they are still twenty of them. Fantastic! At least two of them have taken my advice about making new friends, though maybe a little too literally. When I ask him to take his tongue off her tonsils he is all pissed off. Oh well at four o’clock he can have her back. Chapter three lecture starts and I can see the afternoon will be a replay of the morning. I try to make it interesting but it is a lost cause, so I just drone on with the clock ticking in the background reminding me of just how long this afternoon is going to be. I wonder if I could get it turned ahead, dismiss them and then get it turned back before the janitor comes in. Last group activity for the day and at this point I don’t give a damn who works with who. Just group up and get it done so we can all get the hell outta here.

It is finally 4:00 pm and I can send them on their merry way. I give them the homework assignment and the uproar begins. I tell them, once again through gritted teeth, that homework is not optional, unless they want a big fat F in this class. I pick my crap up, throw it in the office, and head out to my car for another pull off the flask. Fall Semester 2009 has begun, better make a trip to New Hampshire for tax free liquor.
It is day one of Fall 2009 EMT Basic class. I walk into the classroom to 40 staring eyes fidgeting in their seats. You can feel the nervousness radiating off them, well most of them. There are the few who think this class is an inconvenience, they already know it all. You can see the lackadaisical attitude written all over them. These students are my special project; EMS is serious business, and I need to make them understand that. Textbooks are open and the smell of new paper radiates off them, the pages are still crisp and rustle loudly as they turn them. Pens are in hand, poised, and ready to write every important word down.

I go to the front of the classroom and introductions begin. I start, “Good morning, my name is Ms. Taylor, welcome to EMS 123-30.” Now it is the students’ turn. Everyone has the task of introducing themselves and giving a short explanation of what their expectations of the class are. This is one of the most interesting parts of the day. I really enjoy hearing hear why people are interested in EMS. Some of it is pretty serious, but some of it is pretty comical. The answers range from the mundane, “I really want to help people” to the atrocious, “I want a uniform, so I can find a hot girl”. I wrap it up by letting them know what my expectations of them are over the semester. They are a bit overwhelmed at this point, but you can see the excitement in most of their eyes. There are still a few who think this is just a formality, they know it all. The “why to hell do I have to be here” attitude is still emanating from them. I can’t wait until they figure out exactly why they have to be here. Time for the lecture to begin; Chapter one is a necessary evil. The material is dry and there is absolutely know way to spice it up. I launch into it hoping to keep them interested enough so they don’t just stand up and walk out. Once that is over, time for a break. Hopefully they all come back!!

Back they come, 40 pairs of eyes a little glazed over, but at least awake. Time for Chapter two. Chapter two is a little more interesting than Chapter one, but the material is still dry. We do a class activity that gets them out of their seats and moving. They have to pair up in groups of four, and you can see the disappointment on their faces when I count them off for groups and they aren’t with their friends. That was my whole intent, being able to play well others is an integral part of being a god EMS provider. We finish the activity and I notice conversations between people who were strangers three hours ago. A small triumphant for me, that was really my only goal for this activity. Lecture for Chapter two is done, and off they go to lunch. I head to my office to catch up on some work, no rest for the wicked they say. Whoever “they” is seems to know what they are talking about.

Lunch hour is over and back to the classroom I head. Twenty bodies are wandering in, some as excited as they were this morning, some with trepidation, and some still blatantly arrogant with their know-it-all attitude. By now, I have figured out who my challenges are going to be. Will I be able to bring those who are not joiners into the group, and will I be able to reign in those who are sure they are not going to gain anything from this class? Both groups will present an equal challenge over the next 16 weeks. Chapter three lecture begins and now the material is starting to capture their attention. You can see the wheels turning and thought processes kicking in. The realization that this is not like TV starts to take hold. I know this is where I am going to lose some, if their interest isn’t legitimate. The guy who wants the uniform to catch the hot girl may not be back next week. It’s late in the afternoon now, and Starting to be difficult to hold the attention of even the most interested ones. We do another group activity, though this time I let them choose their own partners. It is interesting to watch and see if they will go back to some of their new found classmates. Some do and some don’t, so my goal was partially accomplished. Better small steps forward, then standing still or backwards movement.

The day is over, and I give them their assignments for the week. They look at me like I’m an ogre, so I remind them this is a college course, with credits the equivalent of two classes. The moans and groans from some are blatantly audible. They never imagined homework would be involved with a “class like this”. I remind them the doctors probably never had homework either and this a class in medicine, so expect homework every week. I gather my computer, projector, and books then head to my office. As I am putting things away, I reflect over the day. Fall 2009 semester has begun and I love my job as much as I did when Fall 2004 semester began.
It was the first day of the new semester. I walked into a classroom of 20 students sitting in their seats. Each of them had their textbooks and notebooks in front of them ready to go.

I walked to the front of the classroom and introduced myself. In turn they all introduced themselves. I had them open their textbooks to Chapter one and started my lecture. Chapter one is really boring, I don’t enjoy doing it. The students just stare back and I wonder how many of them will stick it out.

I start the lecture for Chapter two, wondering if they will all stay awake until lunch. We do a class activity that divides them up into groups of four. When Chapter two is finished, I send them to lunch, and go to my office to catch up on some work.

Lunch hour is finished and all the students are back in their seats. I start the lecture on Chapter three, and hope they are all paying attention. That is one of the drawbacks to an all day class; it’s a long day for the students and the teacher.
It’s the end of the day, and I give them their assignments for the next week. I pick up my materials and take them to my office. I put everything away, and lock up and head home for the day

Sunday, September 20, 2009

When I entered the house, I couldn’t believe that people lived here. The stench made my stomach heave; the smell was so overwhelming I couldn’t even distinguish what it was. As I walked through the kitchen, dirty dishes overflowed the sink and side boards. Dirty matted cats were on the counter eating off them. The bathroom was even worse. On the floor was evidence that someone had not made it to the toilet on more than one occasion. As I entered the living room, a grimy thin man laid on the couch.

“Sir, what’s going on today?”
“Who are you?”
“Sir, My name is Sally and my partner Jim and I are with the ambulance, and we’re here because your daughter called us.”
“She did? What the hell did she do that for?”
“She’s worried about you, is it okay if I call you John or do you prefer Mr. Doe?”
“John’s fine, but you ain’t gonna be here long enough to use it missy.”
“Okay John, but your daughter would like to have a doctor look at you. She’s really worried about you. She says you haven’t been taking care of yourself since your wife died.”
Well if she’s so damn worried, why ain’t she here herself? Last I knew she could still drive.”
“John, I’m not sure why she couldn’t come today, but she felt it was really important that you go see a doctor. How are you feeling today?”
“I’m feeling just fine, ain’t been sick a day in my life.”
“Are you eating okay, John? My partner says your refrigerator is pretty empty.”
“I eat just fine, just haven’t had much of an appetite without Jane here to cook anymore.”
“Well John, if you would take a ride into the hospital with us, I could give you a check up on the way in, and the doctor could give you an even better one when we get there.”
“If the doc can give me a better one than you, why would I bother to go with you?”
“Good question, I’m cute, I’m fun to talk to and you might even like me by the time we get there.”
“You ain’t leaving here till you get me to go with you are ya?”
“Well sir, I can’t force you to go with me, but I have ten hours left to work, so the quickest way to get rid of me is to go to the hospital with me.”
Alright, just let me get my coat and cane, since you got ten hours you oughtta be able to wait for that, hadn’t ya?”

I hid a little grin as he headed down the hall to get his stuff. This man wasn’t sick; he was just lonely and needed some outside help. Maybe it wasn’t the call of the century, but I would certainly go home in the morning feeling as if I had made a difference.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Theme Week Two

It was 1967 and my brother and I snuck down the stairs to see what all the noise was. There in the middle of the living room was my hard working serious father with a long brown wig on playing my toy guitar. Ike and Tina Turner were singing “Proud Mary” in the background. People were laughing and singing. Ike and Tina, man could they rock. This began my love affair with music. (Good thing I didn’t know about the alcohol factor then)

The eight track player was the center piece of my 1968 life. My mother had left my brother and I with our father and it had been the three of us for over a year. My brother could do the “boy” things with Dad, but I had the music. At five I knew every word to “Suzie Q” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. And man could my 5 year old voice really belt it out. Dad and I were doing karaoke before it had a name. Those tapes with their wrinkled paper and words barely readable words from all the use were like candy to me. I loved the feel of them, sliding them into the player, and listening to the stories they would sing me.

The 1970’s arrived and so did my new stepmother and her 4 children. The seventies also brought the arrival of a record player and the birth of disco. My very first 45 was “It Never Rained in California”, by Albert Hammond. I played that song so many times the needle would skip over half the record by the end of the first month I owned it. The record player got delegated to a corner eventually but that was okay, I liked being alone. The music became my retreat. I loved Van McKoy’s “The Hustle”, and my 12 year old booty could hustle. Not only did I love music, it became my escape from an unhappy home life. “Saturday Night Fever” produced my first crush. John Travolta was just waiting for me to be old enough to marry him, I was sure of this.

The eighties are full of musical memories. “You’re in My Heart” and Rod Stewart are a much more vivid memory of losing my virginity than the actual act. 1981 was an eventful year for me. I graduated from high school, moved out of my childhood home, got married, and disco died. Gone were the disco balls and white polyester suits, here to replace them were the pop stars. “Endless Love” by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross played as I danced the first time as a wife. My daughter was born in 1983, and to this day the Lionel Richie song “You Are” invokes images of her as a baby. Madonna and I sat up many nights nursing a baby. Gone though, were the records; now the music came on cassette tapes. The eighties also brought music to the TV screen. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” had quite a different effect on a TV screen, than it did on the radio. That was about the only reason to turn a TV on in my house. I never really got into MTV though; I liked having my own images of what the song meant.

Hair bands, monster love ballads, and hip hop some of the music of the nineties. I am not even sure what they all the music of the decade. Regardless of what the genre of the music it has definitely been a friend to me. As I age, I enjoy the remakes of songs I used to listen to. When I hear Martina MacBride singing “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, I can still picture Lynn Anderson’s orange eight track tape, and picture my parents as they danced to her version of it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's 7 am on Saturday morning, and I haven't posted for a few days. It's been a busy week, the semester is in full swing. The lazy days of August are over, September is in full swing. I spent last night working on my lit class, not sure if I'm going to like it, but it's a neccessity not a luxury. I'm not feeling overwhelmed yet, but I'm walking the edge of that line. Well off to A +P, I go. Gotta love being a student!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's Labor Day but off to work I have to go later. The healthcare field has no holidays, but that's okay. The last year has reminded me of the compassion needed to be a good provider. I got some really good care at times, but more often felt like it was crappy. It has been an eye opener and a disappointment being sick. Those who took me the least seriously were people I interact with on a daily basis (at least that's how I felt). It's another beautiful day out, though fall can be felt in the air, where did summer go? The one month we could call summer this year is going to make the winter long and miserable. I can't wait until the time comes when I can go where snow and cold are the rarity, not the norm (I'm talking Florida or someplace like that, not dead). Off I go to enjoy this last day of summer. Hope everyone has a chance to enjoy at least part of it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What a beautiful day! The sun is shining and I feel good. I feel so different, I have energy, and no pain. It is amazing what feeling better does not only for the physical body for the mental body as well. I feel like I can take on the world again. I haven't felt like this in such a long time, I had forgotten how amazing it is. Sometimes we take the simple things for granted, at least for a while I won't be doing that.
It’s 3 am and she sits staring at the computer screen. The topic is one she can’t seem to get excited about, but she knows it’s due and she really needs a good grade on this one. She also is a little bit of a perfectionist; the grade isn’t the only thing that matters, so do the professor’s comments on her papers. So, she continues to stare at the screen racking her brain for the words to fit. She remembers a piece of advice from one of her professor’s notes about just starting to put words on paper so she starts to type. She glances at the clock and its 4 am and she’s reading through what she’s written. In no way is this going to suffice. Thanks goodness delete is a lot less messy than an eraser is the only thought in her head at the moment. She takes a break and realizes that time is ticking away with no progress made. Okay she thinks, the pressure is on and this is when my best work is done. She types madly for the next 90 minutes, and then takes a few minutes to read it. She steps away from the computer, has a soda and a cigarette and the perfect ending pops into her head. She adds the ending, does an edit, and posts it to her blog. Just enough time left to take a quick shower and get ready for work. The only thought in her head as she drives to work is please, please, please let my professor find this acceptable.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

You sit down with the assignment in hand and your brain shuts down. You think about the different ways to approach the story and it feels like your head is going to explode. You decide to break it into smaller pieces, hoping something spectacular will flow from the ends of your fingers. You sit and stare at the blank sheet a little longer, then put some words to it. If you’re lucky those first words will flow into a story worthy of the assignment. If you are not so lucky, edits and rewrites will be the theme of the hours looming in front of you. You are a budding writer.
I am not a writer; in fact the written word is my least favorite communication medium. I love to read and do not mind speaking on front of large groups of people, but put a writing assignment in front of me and my brain turns to mush. As a writer I have experienced many more failures than triumphs. But as in real life, the failures are as valuable as the triumphs. The failures, such as the research paper tossed in the corner, taught me to start small and build up to the more ambitious projects. So now instead of starting with the big paper, I have learned to write several smaller papers on the same subject. I don’t find that nearly as overwhelming and seem to accomplish more that way. My writing triumphs, though few and far between, are very satisfying. I get excited when I submit a paper and nowhere in the comments does the word rewrite appear.
Things are looking up today. Another doctor's apponitment yesterday, but I didn't leave frustrated and in tears this time. I had 2 female doctors AND THEY LISTENED TO ME AND ACTUALLY DID A PHYSICAL EXAM. I finally have some theories as to what might be wrong and some tests ordered. It only took almost 2 years, but if I am on the road to feeling better then hoorah!! I am not going to look back and piss and moan about what the other doctors didn't do and just be thankful that I might be on the road to feeling better. It is a beautiful day out, I have optimism and I'm going to go out and enjoy the sun just because I can.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Well as usual, I’m behind the eight ball on starting this. Today is Thursday, and I’m just getting started on Monday’s work. It’s been a hell of a week up to this point and no end seems to be in sight. I have made 3 trips from Machiasport to Bangor, all medically related, and still have no idea what is wrong with me. I do know what isn’t wrong with me, but the most frustrating part is, that it seems like no one is taking me seriously or listening to what I have to say. So back to Bangor I go tomorrow for another doctor’s appointment, without much hope.

On the bright side, school has started for me as both a student and an instructor. I look forward to meeting my new students and the enthusiasm most of them bring into the class. The students I have are at the beginning of a potential EMS career, and it is satisfying to watch those who really “get it” and want to continue on. As a student, there are classes I look forward to and those I don’t. This semester is mostly a “look forward to”, as I was able to put off Algebra until the spring. So I’m off and running, doing the my first assignment of Fall 2009.