Friday, March 29, 2013

Great Great Gatsby

I'm only twenty-one pages in and I'm overwhelmed. So many like the following but this was the one that pushed me over the edge into setting the book down for a quick moment to record my thoughts.

"Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart." F. Scott Fitzgerald -The Great Gatsby

One sentence and your mouth assumes the posture of an opera singer. One sentence when said out loud that makes you feel like you're lounging warm on pure silk and satin clouds. One sentence that tastes like sheer decadence. Not in words or in message; strictly on structure, weight, depth. Horace Mann once said that a house without books is like a room without windows. In a society that is too lazy to correctly pronounce a simple three letter word, there's a lot to be said for the elegant prose of minds gone by. This is why I read. To escape, to dream, to learn, to preserve, to appreciate, to become more. More. In a world where the majority of communication has been reduced to hurried text messages with abbreviations, codes, and slang unrecognizable to the worlds greatest minds; a foreign language to the literary masters of the English language such as Shakespeare, Dickens, and Payne. In a world where television and film has to switch scenes an average of every 30 seconds to hold our decimated attention. In such a hurried massacred garble of un-intelligence that becomes every day life it's refreshing to let the beautiful prose roll languidly over the tongue and around your mouth. Page 22...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Things We Leave Behind

Alone, I walk into the resuscitation bay tonight to make sure everything is in order. This is my arena. This is my home, I'm in my element. I breathe it in, mentally preparing myself for the hypothetical next critical case. The patient that had been there earlier in the day had required the use of nearly every piece of equipment, and a large portion of our staff. The cavernous room is chilly and still has an odor... of blood, of sterile equipment, of death. The garbage bins are empty, that's not it. Housekeeping has mopped the floor, that isn't it. The stretcher and surrounding tubes/cords/wires are all spotless. Still though, something in the air.  I clear the monitor and put it on standby, center the stretcher in the room, re-lock the brake, and ensure that the scale on the bed is zero-ed; ready for whatever might get thrown through the doors. A quick check through the drawers in my IV cart reveals that everything is re-stocked, loaded to go the next round. There is a mess of clutter on top. I place the EKG and EMS run-sheet in the medical records basket. The hastily thrown packaging and tape of syringes and needles already used, I throw away. And under it all I am stopped cold by a little small notebook. It isn't big, maybe two inches by three inches, and maybe 40 sheets of small lined paper. The cover is a royal blue and white and is well-worn. There are crease lines from multiple openings and bendings. There should be a cardboard-like back cover, but it is missing. Probably got lost in one of the times it had been pulled out of a pocket and used. I flip quickly through to see if there is anything written in it, and there's a couple random words on maybe two different pages. Written in the elegant script of a generation gone by.  I place it back down and trace my fingers over the cover. I'm deeply saddened by this small companion to a life lost. In my mind the kindly grandfather kept it with him in his shirt pocket for writing things down that were important. Notes of things to be remembered, things to get for his wife while at the store. Something kept near to him at all times. Someone should have this. One of his family members should want to have this, just because it was his. And maybe they do. Maybe they don't even know it existed. But they should want to have it. They're long gone, it's three-thirty in the morning. I can't very well call the grieving family of the man to see if they'd like me to mail it to them, where to mail it, or if someone would like to come pick it up. And really, I couldn't bear it if they said to just toss it out. Someone should want to have it. This little well-worn notebook was important to this man, and it was with him until the end.

I never met him. I didn't participate in his care. But I am so deeply moved by this little book. We can never be sure of what we're leaving behind, can we? I mean, one minute you're enjoying time with family then all of a sudden four hours later a spent crew of emergency-health professionals have exhausted all possible avenues of life saving measure. When all is said and done, when the code is called, when the room is clean, and when the family has all left, what small possessions that were once ever-present will be left in the clutter of left-overs from a grueling resuscitation attempt unsuccessful?  

I pick up the notebook gently once more, turn it over in my hand and involuntarily smile a sad half smile. Rest in peace dear sir. I hope your life was full of everything you ever dreamed it would be.  I place the notebook in a small zip-lock bag with a couple old inhalers. I write the patient's name on it with my sharpie and seal the bag.  I spray a healthy amount of odor-eliminating spray in the room, and take the bag out to the desk, telling the charge nurse that it was left behind. She looks at me quizzically and asks if there was anything in it. "Not really," I shrug, "But someone should want to have it, don't you think? I just feel like someone should want it." She looked at the tidy bag and smiled a knowing smile at me and placed in on her desk.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Many Splendored Thing

Love is not an equation, it's not a contract, and it's not a happy ending.  It is the slate under the chalk and the ground buildings rise from and the oxygen in the air. It is the place I come back to, no matter where I've been headed. 

--Jodi Picoult (Vanishing Acts)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I want a corner. I want a small nook just big enough for an over-plush arm chair and ottoman with a thin cozy blanket draped on it. It will face a large window with white trim. It will sit on a dark hardwood floor in the corner made by the window and the adjacent wall -made entirely of in-laid book shelves. Full of books and littered with pictures of the ones I love. It won't be a large corner, not even big enough to lay down in. Maybe just 5ft by 5ft. Just big enough for me to snuggle into my plush chair with my tea on a stand next to me as I read a book and stare out the window into the cloudy drizzling sky and lush dense green around me. Get lost in another world. Or simply stare out my window in my corner and imagine all that the world holds.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pittsburgh State of Mind

So many things to still get caught up on. The good news is in my three days off in the last two weeks, I've started doing just that! I've read three books, cleaned my apartment, and well... that's just about it. The last book I read was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky. Loved it. It was so well written and one of those books that is instantly relate-able and therefore in my opinion timeless. Everyone has a coming of age experience and the awkward transition that is middle to high school. The family story, the friend story, the personal story were all intertwined beautifully. I liked it so much that I ordered the movie on demand and enjoyed it instantly well. The whole thing put me in a Pittsburgh state of mind.

It's a place I had never visited before last fall and probably would never had visited had a dear friend not gotten married there. Now I have a sudden urge to go back just so I can ride under the tunnel completely free and utterly infinite with my hands in the air and my hair in the wind. And of course epic rock would be blasting from the stereo.

It is a remarkably beautiful place, and I'm quite grateful I had the opportunity to go. The thing I remember most about the trip of course is the memories made with dear friends.  There's something to be said for being able to get back together with our small group of three and not miss a beat. I had gone to Tampa with Ken the year before, and DC with Tricia the year before that, but the three of us hadn't been together since Key West nearly two and a half years previous.  And still when Tricia got in late that night, we all huddled in our hotel room to get caught up on everyone's lives. And it was as though we had never been apart.  Over the course of five minutes we went from Marfan Syndrome in Abraham Lincoln, to incest in West Virginia, to reconstructing a tympanic membrane, and wallpaper in home depot. Go figure :)

Ken and Sylvie's wedding was absolutely beautiful. Sylvia was stunning and radiant, the boat was the perfect setting, the music was fantastic, and the company was unbeatable. At the wedding another friend from NYC joined us, and it was great to see Heather and meet her fiance as well. At one point as the three of us were reminiscing about the good old days in the city, Heather's fiance just laughed at our stories and said, "Sex and the City is over ladies, you have all gone home." And he was right, and it was funny how well the analogy fit our time there together. And heather said it perhaps best in a line that hit me in many areas of my life. "Sometimes it wasn't meant to be. It was just a great moment." Beautiful.

Miss you Pittsburgh, miss you New York, miss you friends!