Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Larry Norman 1947-2008

My first email this morning was a link here.
I grew up going to church from the time I was tiny. A square, stone, red carpeted Methodist church where everyone wore a suit or a dress and we sang all five verses of the hymn accompanied by an ORGAN. Nary a guitar or overhead projector or praise chorus to be seen. It was a nice place to grow up, when I was ten years old and the world was uncomplicated.

High school proved to be a less friendly place. Figuring out who you are and where the faith of your childhood fits in can be tricky. I made new friends. These new friends started making me tapes. And I was introduced to a world of music I didn't know existed. Music that talked about God but also talked about life, about our imperfect brokenness and the hypocrisies that exist. No more five-verses in a pew. This was music that went out into the world and came back with a report. And the report wasn't always pretty.

Larry Norman is often called the Father of Christian Rock. I kind of get the impression he rolled his eyes when people would say that. He didn't have an easy life. Being 'the Father' didn't earn him all kinds of money. Despite terrible health problems that worsened over years he was out there sharing and encouraging and singing. He spent himself up letting us know that even when it is very hard to see Him, God is there. Thank you, Larry. See you when I get home.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Screaming Meme....

My bud Tricia over at Middle Age Mania tagged me with this meme forever ago. But because I'm a lazy so and so I haven't gotten around to do anything with it. I always think of it on a Friday afternoon when I just want to put up the YouTube performance of Time
so everyone else can feel sort of freaky-depressed too, which is hardly conducive to a cheerful and amusing post. Suffice it to say I'm starting to develop a burning desire to move, but I recognize that as a normal late-February feeling up here, and I'm distracting myself with this kind of thing. So here's the deal:

1.Link to the person who tagged you. (Done)
2. Post the rules on your blog. (Done)
3. Share six (6) non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4.Tag at least 3 people at the end of your post and link to their blogs.
5.Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Okay, here's my six things.

1. I was once on public television. We got extra credit for singing in an invitational choir at Channel 12 in Philadelphia, so a bunch of people from my high school chorus went over and basically faked our way through Handel's Messiah. I was placed in the front row in a red sweatshirt with a teddy bear on it, with enormous round tortoise shell glasses and a barette smack on the top of my head. Channel 12 showed this on Christmas Eve EVERY YEAR for several years, until Luciano Pavarotti and the Vienna Boys Choir finally retired my transcendent dorkiness from TV forever. My grandmother still has the tape somewhere.

2. When I go to someone else's house I always look behind the shower curtain before I pee. (Hotels too.)

3. People who reflexively laugh at nothing at the end of each sentence make me want to punch them. My husband used to have a secretary who did this. And even though I love her dearly I had an almost involuntary urge to hurt her every time I heard that sound.

4. I have frequent ice skating and tango fantasies, and occasionally dream that I can do both. (I can't do either, and have serious doubts that I ever will. I may try the tango though.)

5. I own a sword and I (sort of) know how to use it. No, I am not some homemade-bustier wearing Ren Faire dork (anymore), I actually took classes in Japanese swordsmanship, which would continue to this day if I hadn't moved far away from my dojo. Why? Discipline, the silence of the mind it imposes, blah blah. Deep down we all know that its badass. And that's why we do it.

(That's me, second from the right.) Yes, I'm holding a wooden sword in a golf tube. No, that isn't the sword I was talking about. I have a real one.)

6. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably teach.

I'm gonna go ahead and tag himself, because he's oh-so-serious lately and I think he needs something fun to do, the sister-in-law, who in addition to being hilarious, is yet another treasure of this family I married into, and Cousin Anna, whose writing is as lovely and gracious as she is.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Snow Storm

I present for your consideration a guest post from one of my fellow
EMTs. My friend here came through EMT class with me (with one of the
highest grades and best recommendations, I might add) and in his short tenure of
certification has had some pretty intense experiences. He's one of
those teens that reminds you that this generation is really pretty okay.
More than okay.

Hello everyone! I’d like to start out by thanking the lovely blog host for letting me add a guest story here and there. I hope to interest some of you out there to join your local fire department or ambulance service. Just a little about me, I joined the fire department and ambulance as soon as I was of age and have been loving it ever since, but enough about me, onto the stories that you’ve been waiting for…

Snow Storm
The local weather service had been predicting a heavy snow storm for that night, and for once they got it right, except it all came as ice…The ice and sleet pellets were inches thick. I awoke to my pager’s annoying sound at 2am after being in a deep sleep. Dispatch reported a full arrest at our local apartment building. I didn’t bother getting dressed. I have a firm rule that after 1am if anyone needs my help that badly, they won’t mind me in my pajamas. I carefully made my way to the car attempting not to ice skate down the sidewalk. In the heat of the moment, taking the time to clean off my car didn’t seem like good idea. It did shortly thereafter. It is amazing what adrenaline and a sleepy mind will do to your common sense.

While driving down our main highway to the station I soon figured out that driving on a ice covered road with only a paper-sized port hole to look out of was not a good thing. Fortunately the general public has enough smarts and doesn’t drive too much at 2am on icy roads so it was deserted. I arrived at the ambulance building where a crew who didn’t have to drive was already there, one had decided to stay the night while the other lived next door. I jumped on board and away we went, with the bus occasionally sliding a bit. That experience will open your eyes very quickly.

We arrived onscene with the hospital’s paramedic beating us to the scene. We quickly found out that the building was locked down after a certain time and we were never given a key. The special emergency entrance had been locked as well. Somehow the paramedic had gotten in but we could not, so we radioed the communications center to have the police officer on duty come let us in. Just as he arrived a good citizen inside heard our knocking and let us in. We quickly boarded the tiny elevator and headed upstairs. We navigated the hallways looking for the room until we found it. Once inside we knew there was no help for this poor soul. The paramedic had determined that he could not be resuscitated, and we would have to remain on scene for the funeral home. The man’s wife was inconsolable, as anybody in her situation would have been.

She needed to notify family but was in no state to do so. Being the jacks-of-all-trades that EMT’s are, we began calling her family. We then called her friends who lived in a nearby town to come be with her. This was not a time for her to be alone. Of course, this was during an ice storm, so everything took a bit longer. We kept the woman company while waiting for the funeral home and friends, which would take at least an hour. She began to tell us about her life when she lived in New York City and how things were so much different here. It was actually quite interesting and got her mind off the situation.

After an hour of small talk and thinking to myself, what do I say…what can I possibly say to this woman that holds any significance and will help her cheer up? Unfortunately nothing came to mind. At last the funeral home arrived with Barney Fife and friend. These two were a pair to say the least, but they were there, and I was ready to be going. We quickly placed the body in the bag lifted him onto their stretcher. The friends arrived as we were leaving. After the funeral home completed everything they needed, we were on our way as well, carefully negotiating the slippery curves of town back to the station.

Once home, I hopped into bed and found that I could not get to sleep. The thought of death was on my mind. After dealing with so much death, it finally gets to you and you begin to realize we are all human and death is possible at any minute so we must cherish every moment.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chapter Eleventy, In Which We Examine My Ongoing Battles With Gravity

I'm not sure what made me think of this story today, but I was musing about exercise, and about how my cabin fever has reached such a ridiculous intensity that I am more than willing to ignore the arctic cold and walk outside. I suppose this led me to the fact that I haven't been to the gym lately. So there you go, in this way I was confronted with my somewhat storied relationship with treadmills.

When I lived in New Jersey I belonged to a gym I really liked. Mostly because it wasn't a neon-mirrored singles-bar with juice, freeweights, and fake tans; there were people there of all ages, shapes and sizes and everyone was cool with that. Not that everyone was cool. I shared my time there with a man who apparently lived by the less well-known credo 'exercise like no one is horrified', He wore these skin tight, gray cottony shorts that are apparently meant to be worn UNDER another pair of shorts to minimize junk jiggle, not worn by themselves so we could all watch his barely restrained mantools dance in the mirror. We're talking ballet-inappropriate frontage.

Captain Grapesmuggler might have been ignorable if he didn't have one other problem. He sweated profusely the entire time he ran. This may not have bothered the rest of us if the treadmills weren't so close together. Or so close to the mirror. Or if he didn't run a HARD EIGHT MILES every time he came in. At least he was polite enough to swab his bodily spin art off the mirror and the 'mill when he was done. Still, no one wanted to be next to him and absorb the flingback.

One day I walked out of the locker room to be confronted with a worst case scenario. There were six treadmills. Four people occupied the ones from the right hand side, there was an empty buffer treadmill, and Captain G was swinging, sweating, and flailing away at the other end. I got four sympatheic glances in the mirror as I took my place in the splatter zone.

Because a back room was being renovated, the 'mills, as well as a row of exercise bikes and rowing machines, were located on the periphery of a room that had an aerobics class in the middle. It was a bit of a tight squeeze but it was temporary so no one really minded. I got my music on, ramped up my speed, and hung a (mostly ineffective) towel on the left side of the treadmill, all in an attempt to block out what was happening on that side and focus on my own workout. I was successful for a while. About thirty minutes along the familar BAM BAM BAM of the Captain sprinting full-out began to overwhelm both the aerobics instructor behind me and the Metallica in my headphones. Unconsciously I moved over just a bit to my right. What happened next happened very fast.

Apparently, my foot came down 80% on the actual treadmill belt and 20% on the grippy footrest on the side. 20% of grippy footrest is apparently just enough to bring your foot to a complete and sudden stop, which is, apparently, enough to make you fall down. In the split second before I fell I calmly reasoned that the belt would not move if I was sitting on it, and even if it did, it would do so gently. This was incorrect. You see, a treadmill set at 4 miles per hour moves at 4 miles per hour whether you are on your feet or collapsed in a heap. I was not gently moved to the end of the belt like a bag of apples at the grocery store. I was violently ejected into the back row of the aerobics class, where I took a lady out like I was shooting bottles at a carnival.

I hear stories about people being in a fugue state, where they literally disconnect from life as they know it and function in a separate reality. I think I know what that is like. I had nasty rugburn, I had the wind knocked out of me, but a voice from my past spoke up, my twelve-year-old gym class self. She said, "If you go in the locker room now, they'll laugh at you." I agreed. I got up, helped the aerobics lady restack her step (I'd have a pretty bruise from landing on that, a few days later), and I GOT BACK ON THE TREADMILL. And I went another half hour. I don't know if I earned the respect of my fellow exercisers, but I can tell you that the Captain was undeterred, through it all he pounded on his noisy, sweaty, vaguely obscene road to imaginary victory.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Municipal Sleepover

Yesterday dissolved in rain, snow, sleet, whatever. I don't know. I don't have any clever ways of describing it; I drove home on crap tires clutching the steering wheel singing loudly and talking to myself about whether 'One Step Beyond' is a song, a band, or an album. (I think its a Madness song but I'm too lazy to look it up and it kept me from hyperventilating so who cares.)
I was on duty, which meant that from 6pm-6am Wednesday morning, if there was an ambulance call I was obligated to get up, get in the car, and go on it. Fine. I do this every Tuesday. But since the winter craptacula was supposed to fall all night, ending with a nice coating of ice, driving off my hill in a medical-emergency-inspired hurry didn't appeal to me much.

Being volunteers, you are not obligated to stay at the station as paid departments do, but sometimes, we do it because of the weather. Fortunately, we have a 'bunkroom' for this purpose. For free, you can pack up your toothbrush and your jammies and go sleep in the ambulance building. I decided this was better than becoming a dispatched call myself, and I packed a bag.

Early in the evening it seemed like a fun and fine idea. Lots of other people were there, talking and laughing, like they usually are. Then the calls started coming in. I missed the narrow window to acquire something for dinner, its a small town and things close early. Once the rest of the crew left, it was just me in a cavernous garage with my vending machine dinner, a Pepsi and a blueberry Pop Tart. Lest you think that was my crappiest indulgence of the evening I should tell you that I also watched television. *shudder*

Around 10:30 it dawned on me how creeped out I was to sleep in this building by myself. I tried to write, I wasn't feeling particularly humorous, just cold and lonely and I missed my cat. (Pause here and reflect on how pathetic that is. Okay. Go. ) Oh well. I made up my bunk, turned off the light, and snuggled into a space clearly made for a child. Does anyone else remember sitting on the bottom bunk with another kid, I don't know, playing cards or giggling about boys or something? I sure do. Last night I felt like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. I was afraid I'd have dreams about punching through treetrunks; the sheet of plywood that made up the top bunk's base was about five inches from my nose. (In case you're wondering, top bunk was out of the question, what with the nightly peeing and stiff knees and 20/400 vision. Oh, and no ladder.)

Surprisingly, after the last call of the night around 2330 (That's fancytalk for 11:30pm) I did manage to go back and fall asleep. Strange noises and stranger dreams later I woke up to an ice-glazed gray morning and tried hard to remember the golden October day when I drove up to my new house with a car full of computers, weapons, and houseplants. I can't wait for the color to come back to this place.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Annoyances, Part Two, in which we contemplate the great Suckholery that is Winter in the Northern Tier

Yesterday I had an appointment. Whenever I get an address that is RR something Box something I shudder; you can't look that stuff up on maps, you have to get directions from the customer. So I called him, carefully wrote down what he told me, and went on my way. His busy schedule dictated an appointment at 4pm. No problem, I can always have a life once I retire.

The day was supposed to be mildly unpleasant, so I cast a fisheye on the glazy ice-looking bits of road I was travelling on, which all turned out to be puddles and not Great Black Sheets of Instant Grisly Death, one of my deepest, darkest fears. A normally boring drive was perked up by an impromptu roadside domestic dispute; I came out of Sylvania, PA to see vehicle pulled over at a hasty angle and a woman who looked at first glance like she was examining her shoes. As I passed I realized she was standing astride a man, on his back in the dirty road-salted snow, her finger pointed defiantly in his face. I can only imagine what sort of exchange between them would have prompted this woman to jerk her Voyager into a snowbank, yank this man out, and stand over him like a mittened, plaid bundled Colossus of Rhodes. I kept driving.

I found the light in Ulysses (yes, THE light, as in, there is one, and if you drive to the next one, you are in a different town), made the correct turn, and hit my trip odometer, since I was told the road I needed was 3 miles from the stop sign. You do this around here, since more often than not there is no street sign, and the landmarks you get make you want to punch old people in frustration. As usual, no street sign, I turned on the dirt road, drove past a farm, aimed the van down the ruts, and dropped it into a lower gear. My customer indicated that I should go 'straight after the road bends left and then right'. More accurately, 'after you go through the two hairpin turns with the sheer ice-covered dropoff on the right hand side, keeping your van on the five feet of cleared road in the dead center praying no school buses come up the other way, go straight'.

My road to go straight on is a dirt road of farms. With farms comes farm machinery, which means deep, ice filled wheel ruts. At least, I figure, I'm not sliding off this road, as I clutch up all my sphinctery muscles in a completely worthless attempt to avoid losing the oil pan, the gas tank, and everything else I feel scraping the centerline hump. I have to jam on my brakes once to avoid wiping out no less than six barn cats who chose that moment to chase each other across the road. With the help of a UPS driver I find the house, and glory be, they have a nicely paved driveway.

Covered in three inches of solid ice. Solid befreaked uphill ice.

I swallow some panic-attack flavored saliva and drop the van into low gear. I gain the hill and sort of slide diagonally into a parking place. The gentleman greets me in a t-shirt, socks, and sweatpants. When I mention that a moving truck would probably not make the driveway he said, 'Oh, its all right. I've been here all day and its been melting steady,'

All day, you say? You mean, like, during all those respectable hours when the SUN WAS OUT and I could have come here and gone back and not had to give up an hour and a half of my only evening at home? Bless your sock feet, sir. No, really. And I'm sure your soon to be ex-wife won't mind at all that her entire bedroom set and all her appliances are dumped on your porch exposed to the elements. I won't relish telling on you at all. I promise.

This weather makes me want to curl up in bed with a seed catalog and a fifth of Johnnie Walker Red. Fortunately our annual Fire Department/Ambulance banquet is this weekend, and while I doubt there will be much in the way of seed catalogs.....