Sunday, October 30, 2011

Girly. Or not.

I think it's time to come clean with you.

Sometimes, I am not very good at being a girl.

There. I said it.

Let me explain. A while back I sat in a room with a bunch of other girls and it struck me suddenly that they were all wearing these shiny things with their clothes. Jewelry, I think you call it. The stuff has always bewildered me because it doesn't seem to accomplish the main function of clothing--namely, covering skin.

At any rate, the jewelry seemed to look nice on them, so I thought I'd consider getting some for myself. I went to a popular jewelry store (Walmart) and started perusing the displays. I thought necklaces seemed pretty straight forward and started there, and within a minute I broke out in a cold sweat. 

Who knew that there were so many variations on a simple necklace? It's just a shiny thing you hang around your neck, right? But there's so much more involved--is it for a low neckline or a high one? Casual or formal? Do you wear it alone or with another one? What color is the shirt you're planning to wear it with? Worse, what color are the shoes you're planning to wear it with (no one actually owns more than one pair of casual they?) Then, you have to start coordinating with the earrings and bracelet that are going to go with the necklace, and you might want to consider matching eye shadow and purse color as well.

Suddenly I felt nauseated and my respiratory rate doubled. I could feel the store closing in on me, and sensed other customers staring at me, positive they could sense my lack of finesse at jewelry purchasing. Probably they were snickering. I booked it to the produce section. Apples I can handle.

Here's the truth. I grew up with three brothers and no sisters. The males in my house mocked make-up and prissiness in all forms and I was in college before I knew about eyebrow plucking or hair straighteners. I own two necklaces that I actually wear and bought neither of them. 

I have two hair-do's, and that's only if you count the ponytail/headband combo that I sport when exercising. My favorite place to go clothes shopping is at a thrift store, and my makeup collection has three items in it. On my wedding day, I spent about 15 minutes doing my hair and makeup. The same amount of time that I spend every day. And while I feel a twinge of regret looking at my somewhat plain appearance in my pictures, I'm also pretty sure I was the least-stressed-out bride in the history of weddings.

Here's the question: Is that okay? Am I allowed to deep down wish I were wearing a T-shirt and baggy shorts? Can I consider myself an adequate woman if I never do learn how to accessorize?


I brought all this up with Isaac, and his only response was, "How is that a problem? That's one of the things about you I think is awesome!"

See the T-shirt? And how happy I look? What a great day that was.

Well, at least I married the right guy. And I don't plan on buying a new necklace any time soon. It's just too traumatizing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ugly numbers

This was our mealtime conversation today.

I: J's birthday is today. He's 28. We spent some time talking about how 28 is a perfect number.

C: Why?

I: Because it is one of a few numbers whose factors add up to itself (1, 2, 4, 7, 14). 6 is another example. 

C: 28 is more impressive. It's bigger and still pulls it off. Like how big prime numbers are more impressive.

I: Prime numbers sure are ugly numbers

C: What do you mean?

I: Think about it. 13. What could be uglier than that? Or 11? Or 17?

C: I have positive emotional associations with 17. I idolized that age from the time I was young. I can't think badly about it.

I: You have to let those go. We're talking about the number, not the age. 17 was the best year of my life, but it's still an ugly number. 

C: I'm sorry. I can't do it. 17 isn't ugly.

I: Well, you can't argue against 11 and 13.

C: You have to admit that 11 is lovelier than 13.

I: I think that's because 13 follows 12. And 12 is almost a perfect number.

C: Yeah, 12 really is a tough act to follow. Poor 13.

I: 5 and 7, though. Those are exceptions. They're almost as perfect as 12.

I still think I'm right about 17.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Code Blue

Warning: This is not a funny hospital story. Please skip this blog post if you are prone to fainting at slightly graphic medical stories. 

Recently I watched my first code blue at this hospital. 

A code blue is your classic CPR situation--someone whose heart is not beating or who is not breathing.

It is the kind of thing you see on TV all the time. And in some ways, it is like TV. It feels dramatic. People keep pouring into the room in droves. There are syringes flying and orders being called and chest compressions and the beeping of heart monitors. It is 15 people all working together to try to save a life when every minute really does count. 

And yet, it is utterly unlike TV. The patient's spouse is shuttled out of the room white as a sheet. This is a real person, not an actor. If things do not turn out well, this day will be life-altering and remembered with remorse. The patient is disrobed and blood drips on the floor in a puddle as new IV's are started. Chest compressions are hard and fast and make the bed shake. Students and medical residents take turns doing them because it is exhausting work. The patient receives a breathing tube down the throat to assist in giving breaths. 

Every 2 minutes we pause everything to watch the heart monitor return again and again to a flat line, called asystole. This means there is no electrical activity in the heart at all. It means the patient is probably not going to come back. It means all our efforts will probably be in vain. 

I stood in the corner holding a clipboard and wrote everything down, calling out when more medication could be given and keeping track of how long we'd been working. Doing this allowed me to participate in the code but mostly observe first hand what happened. 

I watched the heart rate come back for just a moment. A pulse! We have a pulse! A new hopeful energy entered the room as doctors gave new orders and we excitedly started preparing to take the patient to the ICU. 

Then, just as quickly, the pulse left, replaced once again by that terrible flat line. 

I watched as the room gradually became more and more quiet. Compressions continued but no one spoke a word. We all knew. Finally I called out for the last round of medication. Someone gave it. 


And so, reluctantly, we stopped. The room emptied in near silence. In a moment we cleared the room and covered the patient with a fresh sheet and wiped up the blood. The drama of the moment fizzled out into a quiet sadness. Nurses rarely cry in such moments. Maybe it's the adrenaline. But the experience still cast a pall over the rest of the day, sobering us all. 

And yet, there lingered some small comfort in the nearly 30 minutes we'd spent trying to preserve a life. We gave life the best chance possible at lingering here. Everything we could do we did. Life is tenacious, but sometimes, so is death. When it's really truly our time to go, we go. For this patient, it was truly time.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hitting the Wall

A while ago in church someone mentioned that she'd just finished reading the Bible cover-to-cover.

Why haven't I done that? I asked myself. I have read the entire New Testament several times and have read selected portions of the Old Testament, but there are vast areas of unchartered territory I still need to conquer. 

So I started.

Genesis went great. It's downright riveting--Adam gets created and then kicked out of the garden and Noah's trying to get his animals gathered and then Abraham shows up and there's that coat of many colors, and I could barely put it down! Exodus wasn't bad either. As I read, though, I started getting this unsettled feeling in my stomach. Something about my auspicious start bothered me deeply. I spent a few days trying to pin down what felt wrong about it all.

And then a sickening realization struck me. In 145 pages I had already covered almost every Bible story I knew. Sure, I still have David and Goliath to look forward to, and something about the battle of Jericho, but what on earth fills the other 1039 pages of the Old Testament?

I kept reading, bracing myself for the blow, and sure enough, it came. Leviticus. And after about 3 chapters full of dead lambs and goat and sacrificial altars and peace offerings and sin offerings and sweet savors I began toying with the idea of picking a new religion. Do Hindus have a shorter Bible? 

In the end, I decided to push through the wall. I bought two different books about the Old Testament. I read up on symbolism and ancient Israelite culture and Hebrew translations and I made it through Leviticus a better person. 

Then I hit the next wall: Numbers. So far: 3 chapters of numbering and sorting the camp of Israel. Turns out, there were a lot of Israelites. And I get to read about them, tribe by tribe.