Saturday, August 8, 2009
The next thing I remember is that I woke up in the ambulance. One of my former students was in there. He said, “Do you remember me?” They always say that! I couldn’t think of his name, though. I said, “You had a brother…”(For 29 years I taught with a gentleman who taught social studies. He and I used to joke that we were afraid we’d wake up in the ambulance and find a former student who failed our class. I think this student passed, but I can’t swear to it.) I don’t remember much else about the ride. It’s so weird not to remember time that passed by.
Eventually, I became aware of being in the emergency room, and finally, that my family was there. Much later, my husband told me that a nurse asked him if I were his mother. That did not please me, needless to say. Then we began waiting and waiting. We got there about 11:00 P.M., and finally I was admitted at around 4 A.M. We finally got into a room at 6:00 A.M.
Wayne took the girls home so they could get some sleep. He came back later on with my younger daughter. Luckily, I made it into a room just in time for some bad hospital food (oatmeal without salt and then because my arm was still jerking a little, I spilled the sugar). Eggs without salt, yuck. I had a number of tests that day, including an EEG and an MRI. During the brain scan, a very nice girl who looked like the blonde on 90210 (Now, what was her name? Tori Spelling) was putting dabs of cold glop on my scalp so that the little sensors could be placed on it. I said, “Don’t I have a big head?” She said, “Well, no bigger than usual…” I said, “Well, I guess you’d be in a position to know.” After all, she apparently does brain scans for a living, right? I finally told her that it is kind of a family joke about my huge skull that few hats will fit. She didn’t know if I were being humorous or not, poor girl. After getting my head set up for the test, she went into the next room and told me through the window to be very still and quiet, lying there in the dark, so naturally I went to sleep. I woke up in a few minutes to hear “Tori Spelling” talking to another girl about what she was seeing on the screen about my brain. This is not a wise method, to talk about the patients within their hearing. One of them said, “Look what I’m seeing!” The other one said, “It’s just on one side!” The one who put the glop on my head said, “That’s epilepsy!” After some further discussion, they decided to call a particular doctor down there, who turned out to be a neurologist. The neurologist was aware that I was awake, but agreed that it looked like epilepsy.
Back in the room, I talked to some of my family on the phone. My mother was somewhat surprised to hear that I had developed epilepsy at the age of 52. Later that afternoon, the neurologist came to the room. He asked me if I knew who he was. I did, of course, having eavesdropped on his conversation that morning. He asked me if I had ever had a seizure before, several times in different ways. I never have. He seemed quite intrigued by all of this.
Finally, they let me go home the next morning, after giving me pills to prevent me from having any more seizures, telling me not to drive for six months, and referring me to a neurologist who doesn’t work in the hospital.
So, I called and made an appointment with this doctor for the following Tuesday.
After being driven to the doctor’s office by my husband, I went into the office. A young man who resembled Palmer, the guy who helps Ducky on NCIS, gave me an examination. I had to follow his finger with my eyes, walk a straight line, have my reflexes checked, etc. I never have had very good balance…Oh, well. I told him all about my hospital experience. Then his boss showed up, a doctor about 32, maybe. He said, “Hello!” So I had to go through the whole thing again. Finally, he said, “There is no doubt that you had a seizure. You have an abnormal brain.” (Allow me to insert here that most of my friends and family will not be surprised to hear this.) “Well, not an abnormal brain, but the fluid that surrounds your brain. You have some extra fluid that is pooling at your temporal lobes. This can cause a seizure. It might be triggered by being really tired. So what I want you to do is to take two of your pills in the morning and two at night, don’t climb on ladders, don’t take baths instead of showers, don’t drive for six months. No heavy lifting. I want to see you here again in about a month.”
As one of my friends says, “Stay off the roof!” I’m trying. People are beginning to ease up; they are no longer watching me to see if I’m going to do anything unusual or go off like a bomb. The pills make me a little groggy, but I already was half asleep normally, because of my insomnia. My mother says she can’t tell the difference.
Wow. Abnormal brain sacs. How weird is that? My older daughter who has a sicko sense of humor (inherited from heaven-only-knows where) says that I should name my brain sacs, giving them their own identities. I might. I am not happy about any of this, especially not being able to drive for six months. Thank God for the internet.
It’s really a good thing I’m not still trying to teach English!
Friday, August 7, 2009
When my daughter Diana was in middle school, one of her teachers gave her a first-day writing assignment for her parents to do. The parent had to describe the child. That was all there was to it, and it was optional. I wrote something, and then our printer would not work. I think I emailed it to the teacher, but I am not sure. I can't imagine how many students told me over the years that their printers would not work. Anyway, my daughter is nearly 20 now, but this is how I described her when she was 13.
Diana at Thirteen
My daughter Diana is an interesting mixture of my characteristics, her father’s, and some of her very own. We are very proud of her.
When she was born thirteen years ago, her daddy called everybody we knew and some people with whom we were barely acquainted. When we went home from the hospital, I couldn’t find anyone he hadn’t already told. Diana was bald-headed, a good sleeper, and an early talker. Her first word was “baby,” and her favorite thing to do was chew on a Raggedy Ann doll’s black cloth feet. She has changed a whole lot since then. She has recently grown a great deal of long hair, she says many more words than “baby,” and I think her favorite things to do now are to draw cartoons, to talk on the phone, and to figure out ways to avoid her little sister. She gets the ability to draw from her daddy. Another favorite thing to do is to go fishing with him. Early in the spring she caught a 30-pound catfish, very ugly in its facial expression but impressive. Her daddy was not quite as excited as he was when Diana was born, but he came close.
I see some of my own characteristics in her. She is usually patient unless pushed too far, does not like to be yelled at by anyone, and observes the world quietly and thoughtfully. She likes to write and hates to see anyone hurt. She loves animals, particularly her dog Melvin (the rare beagle-chihuahua). She likes to read, just as I do, but there is a difference: while I feel lost without a novel somewhere in the house, she can go a while between books. We both love Harry Potter, so she reads the books first, and then I get them. The television program we both enjoy the most is The Gilmore Girls. I see in her the beginnings of that sarcastic sense of humor that gets me in trouble sometimes. Also, neither of us is too concerned about things like clothes and hair styles.
Belonging entirely to her are her sense of responsibility, her independence, and her dependability. Her good grades and academic awards have filled her father, her grandparents, and me with pride. I have never had to worry about whether or not she did her homework. Diana is much more mature than I was at age 13, and she has a greater strength of character. The opinions of others don’t matter much to her when she thinks she is right. While she might get annoyed with her little sister, and while she might be amused by my fear of mice and my forgetfulness, she can become fiercely protective of us when she thinks we need protecting. Her best characteristics are the ones she has grown into on her own.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
I try to grab a variety of novels when I visit the public library. Mostly, I like murder mysteries/suspense thrillers, but sometimes I get a story about women’s lives or something new. The other day I grabbed Hurricane Punch by Tim Dorsey. It turns out that Dorsey might be crazy—who could have thought of this plot? It is an insane story about a serial killer and a newspaper reporter in Florida during several hurricanes. It was really amusing in spots. Here are some good quotes (“Serge” is the serial killer):
1. “I celebrated in advance, in case something good happened.” Coleman (Serge’s sidekick)
2. “…I dreaded the thought of getting my own cell, but the cutthroat competition of the wireless industry has created all kinds of offers you can’t refuse. Like mine. This guy set his phone on the counter in Starbucks, and before he knew it, I was halfway down the block…” Serge
3. “Remember the key to life. Always act like you deserve to be here.” Serge
4. “…mental illness is like cholesterol. There’s the good kind and the bad. Without the good kind, less flavor to life. Van Gogh, Beethoven, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath, Pink Floyd…scientific breakthroughs, spiritual revelations, utopian visions, zany nationalism that kills millions. Wait, that’s the bad kind.” Serge
It’s great to discover a new, (maybe crazy) author. I checked out another of Dorsey’s books today.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
1. Mrs. Maple: Benjamin, we're meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us?
2. Ngunda Oti: You'll see little man, plenty of times you be alone. You different like us, it's gonna be that way. But I tell you a little secret I find out. We know we alone. Fat people, skinny people, tall people, white people... they just as alone as us... but they scared shitless.
3. Benjamin Button: It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you.
4. Benjamin Button: [Voice over; letter to his daughter] For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
5. Benjamin Button: Along the way you bump into people who make a dent on your life. Some people get struck by lightning. Some are born to sit by a river. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim the English Channel. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people can dance.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Earlier this week I saw a huge vulture on the side of the road, and it reminded me of something I wrote a couple of years ago (before I had a blog):
March 25, 2007
A disturbing thing happened yesterday. I looked out the bathroom window and saw a large bird, even bigger than these fat cardinals and woodpeckers who fight over the Ol’ Roy dog food Wayne puts out for the dogs. This bird was BIG. Cautiously, it looked around the yard, wary, watching for killer dogs (where were those maniacs?). Pretty in an odd way, its body was covered with black feathers, but its neck and head were free of feathers, making the curve of its neck and head look like a goose or a duck or something. I noticed it had a little hook on the front of its beak; it hooked down. Gradually, I decided that it must be, well, a vulture—a “buzzard” as we say around here. In my backyard? Were all the dogs all right? The bird was trying to drink water out of an orange bucket Wayne had left in the backyard…but there was water in other containers for the dogs nearby. Why not drink there, or in the creek? I went for the camera, which was naturally not charged up. I went outside to see if the buzzard were still there. No…but then I looked up. There it was, high in the walnut tree—definitely a vulture, looking down over the hill, thankfully not over the house. So far up in the tree, it looked just like the cartoon buzzards on Jungle Book.
I see symbols everywhere, literature-teaching woman that I am. A sign of death?
What is it that Mel Gibson’s character says in the movie Signs? "Are you the type of person who sees signs in everything?"
"Creeped me out," as the kids say. Diana came home a little while after that, and we watched Thelma and Louise. When Wayne came home from his mother’s house, I told him about the buzzard and the orange bucket. There were fish guts in there—he cleaned some fish and left the remains in the bucket (I know...ewww). There is always a reasonable explanation-- even a nasty, smelly one-- for unusual events, even signs.
At least I didn’t hear it say "Nevermore."
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
"Nope. It sounds good in books, though."
"I know! It's in Narnia..."
"Yeah, the witch gave it to the boy..."
"I'm going to look it up! I want to know what it is." She settled down at the computer and began to google. She found the recipe, read it through, and said, "Ewwww." Then she looked up all kinds of exotic foods from the links on the recipe site, and tried to pronounce their names aloud, giggling madly. This went on for quite a while.
This is why I love the internet, and Google, and the innate curiosity of kids, and my kid...
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up,
Holding wonder like a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like the curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.
But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
I admit to being a little bit cynical nowadays. It comes with having taught school so many years and with being as old as I am, although some people turn into sweet little old ladies rather than getting more cynical about the sorry state of mankind. I, however, have been disillusioned so many times. I should know better.
I wait each day in the parent pick-up (PPU) line for my daughter, the twelve-year-old. If a parent is too late, the line will stretch endlessly ahead, her vehicle might even be in the street rather than the school’s carefully designed driveway, and the child will be nearly the last one called (trauma). If a parent is too early, she is doomed to sit there for 45 minutes, studying the brave parents who zoom up to the door, leap athletically out of the car, and go on in the office to DEMAND the child from these education bureaucrats, and bustle back to get in the car and ZOOM away. I, so far, have been too lacking in bustle to zip in and demand my daughter’s presence at 3:05 with only a few minutes left before the bell. I am bored entirely out of my mind, though. I have closely examined everything there is to observe about the front of the school. I usually bring a book, but I have dozed off twice while waiting. This napping is hazardous and leads to other parents having to peer in the window to discover me sleeping while serving my time in the parent pick-up line—a somewhat embarrassing situation. I have tried in vain to find something interesting to look at in the dreary school environment. The boys who are somehow privileged to come out and bring down the flag? (The same boys every day? And are there no flag girls?) Once, I brought our dog Melvin with me to relieve the dullness. He went off into his Melvin Crazyland and barked his fool head off at everyone walking up and down the sidewalk, guarding me with all his twenty-five pounds of beagle-chihuahua (Cheagle?) fierceness. Well, at least I wasn’t asleep that day.
Anyway, I have looked at all the cars in the line at one time or another, looking at the back and reading the letters on the license tags. Sometimes they actually spell something! So one day I was behind a neat little pickup truck, and I noticed that it had the cutest taillights! “That looks like a fleur-de-lis!” I thought happily. “How cute! Maybe there will be a whole bunch of new designs for taillights. Like hearts, or unicorns, or butterflies, or daisies, or your initials, one on each side! Hmmm!”
See, it’s a good idea, right? Maybe I should patent it. Anyway, a couple of weeks later my husband was with me in the parent pick-up line, and I pointed out these “cute” taillights. He said, “That’s a ram, not a flower. It’s a Dodge taillight cover. That’s a Dodge ram.” What? I was very distressed, because now, when I look at the lights, I can’t help but see the ram instead of the fleur-de-lis. Dog gone it. Stuff like this is enough to make anyone cynical, I swear.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Quotes of the Day: www.Time.com
It's a little late for Republican governors to get high-minded about accepting federal dollars.
- BRIAN SCHWEITZER,
- Montana Governor and a Democrat, criticizing Republican governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi for rejecting incentives to expand unemployment insurance
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Quotes of the Day (Time.com)
“I say, Life is hard, move on. If you can't get over it, it's ruined.”
- ALEC GREVEN,
- the 9-year-old author of How to Talk to Girls, on being dumped. The young love guru offers romantic advice in his New York Times best-selling book
Sunday, February 15, 2009
As usual, the Ruraltown News was eager to plaster a negative article about the public schools on the front page this week. “Grade inflation” at
Most educators know that a standardized test gives evidence of what a student knows at a particular moment in time. While useful, the scores should not be given too much credence. Who knows what factors may be causing a particular student to score as he or she does? Maybe the student did not get enough sleep, breakfast, affection, or Mountain Dew. (Mountain Dew is the addictive elixir of life for high school students who are capable of smuggling a gallon jug of it into class under an armpit.) Maybe the student copied someone’s EOCT answers, and that person had a different version of the test. Believe me, any of these is possible.
Mr. Clark seems blissfully unaware of the variables that may affect standardized test results. He also apparently has no clue that the state mandated that the EOCT can only count as 15 percent of the student’s final grade. Now, I never taught math, but I am aware that 85 percent is, well, larger than 15 percent. The 85 percent is usually a cumulative average of the student’s grades from the 18 weeks of classroom attendance in a semester. The instructors from the State Department of Education who indoctrinated teachers in the art of “unpacking” the Georgia Standards for Language Arts placed great emphasis on the idea that a variety of assessments should be used to evaluate a student’s learning. There was a definite lack of emphasis on multiple-choice testing, such as the questions on the EOCT. Instead, the 85 percent block of the grade should come mainly from projects, presentations, written assignments, and research. The idea is that the student’s real understanding of the material is better evaluated by these assessments. (“Unpacking” suggests that the new standards are weighty or, perhaps, heavily loaded. Believe me, they are.)
No grade “inflation” occurred. Hopefully, assessments done during the 18 weeks of the class are a more accurate reflection of the student’s real understanding than a standardized test taken reluctantly during one spring morning. Mr. Clark doesn’t know some basic math: 85% >15%. Maybe some ego inflation occurred when a researcher was overeager to discover negative information about the public schools, and when a newspaper writer was eager to report negative information in a front-page story with cute little graphs. Maybe Mr. Clark should find another focus for
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
(Wednesday, Feb. 04, 2009)
Quote of the Day from Time(www.time.com)
“It could easily eat something the size of a cow. A human would just be toast immediately.”
- JACK CONRAD,
- a snake expert, after fossils from northeastern
revealed the biggest snake ever discovered: 42 to 45 feet long, reaching more than 2,500 pounds Colombia
Well, I have watched too many terrible snake movies on Sci Fi! This gave me vivid images for my bad dreams. Ewwwwwwww.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
When three old friends get together—
What do you say to someone you used to know really well, friend and roommate, after a couple of decades have passed by?
“Well, I’m still married!” (We are all still married to the only guys we ever married. That’s a shocker, actually. Never would have guessed us to be the ones destined for monogamy.)
“I guess we should talk about our ailments!” Yeah, we’ve got some. They’ve both had knee surgery; one has had back surgery; one has had a hysterectomy. Menopause wasn’t a happy time, but we’re all through it, even though we’re only 52. Me, I’ve got mild arthritis and major insomnia, high blood pressure and sinus problems. Getting older is still a surprise to me.
”I don’t party like it’s 1974 anymore.” Well, no. It seems silly, somehow. I’d just sleep through it if I tried to.
We compared our pets, our children, our parents, our grandchildren and step-grandchildren, and our siblings. We compared our jobs or lack of—two out of three retired. We compared our lack of money, although I suspect that my lack of money is closer to poverty.
We remembered moments from back in the day—how’d those three girls get to this point? When we dreamed about the future, we never dreamed about hysterectomies, arthritis, our kids moving out, our hair turning gray…
We’re still the same, though—we talked, and we laughed. We laughed a lot. We always did.
We’re hoping to get together again next month!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Of course today we are honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life. Another cause for celebration is the fact that January 19, 1809, was Poe's birthday! I told my daughter Diana that today is Poe's birthday, and she said, "The Teletubby?" Well, no, not that Po.
My father used to recite random bits of poetry to us when we were little, and one of the things he used to recite was a section of "The Raven." When Diana was little, in the grocery store I would say, "'Twas a-----, Nevermore!" and she'd excitedly scream, "Raisin!" She wasn't old enough to be acquainted with ravens. When she said that, I always envisioned one of those California animated raisins from the eighties knocking on the chamber door.
Enough of this madness.
Here's the first stanza of "The Raven":
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more."
Sunday, January 18, 2009
On January 17, 1990, I wandered into the obstetrician’s office for a checkup. The baby was supposed to have been born already, but it had not come yet. I was tired, and I didn’t know it, but 19 years of insomnia had begun for me. I was humongous and uncomfortable, but glad to be free from teaching. I had begun my maternity leave, feeling sure the baby would come soon.
The doctor checked me over and said that my blood pressure was too high. I wasn’t in labor or anything. He sent me to check in to the hospital. I drove over to the hospital, parked, and moseyed in the front door. At the desk, I told a young man who had been sitting with his feet propped up, that the doctor’s office told me to come on over to the hospital to have a baby. I was pretty calm, but the young man was no longer calm. He jumped to his feet, ordered a wheelchair, put my humongous self in the chair, and tried to find a room. No rooms were available, so I soon found myself in the VIP suite. This was exciting. I lay down on the bed, still wearing my jeans, and began calling people.
Eventually, my husband arrived, along with my mother-in-law and several members of my husband’s family. They thought I was in labor. Since I was in the VIP suite, there was a couch and a number of chairs for all of these visitors. Realizing I wasn’t in labor or anything, everyone calmed down quite a bit.
At some point, the doctor came along, and I finally learned that they were going to induce labor in the morning. I didn’t know if the baby was a girl or a boy yet. I was going to name it Zachary Wayne if a boy, Diana Jean if a girl. I called my mama and told her that they were going to induce labor at 6:00 AM in the morning on January 18.
Mama got Daddy up at 4:00 AM so they could journey to the hospital. When they got there, nothing was happening. Inducing labor didn’t work. This kid did NOT want to come out! (She's always been pretty stubborn.) Daddy wouldn’t come back into the labor room, but he talked to me on the phone: “How about some action in there?” I said, “I know! Nothing’s happening!” A very long day went by, a day so long that the hungry doctor ordered pizza for himself. Finally, about 7:00 PM, Diana Jean was born by C-section. She was only 13 hours late! Her daddy called everybody in the natural world to announce her birth; he was very excited. I couldn’t believe I had a baby. Although I was 34 years old, I somehow didn't feel exactly qualified for motherhood.
All of this happened one very long day 19 years ago. Although they kicked us out of the VIP suite after delivery, Miss Diana Jean will always be a VIP.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
Thursday, January 1, 2009
ITHACA, by C.P. Cavafy [1910, 1911]
As you set out for Ithaca
hope that your journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare sensasion
touches your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon-you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope that your journey is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and learn again from those who know.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so that you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would have not set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.
Happy New Year!