I really understand why writers “go into the woods” to write. For whatever reason, I find it next to impossible to write if Adam’s home––even if he’s pretending to be invisible in the other room (which is awfully nice of him). The ideal setting for me to blog is alone in my climate-controlled office-studio, a glass of iced tea (without the ice) or red wine, and Edward Cullen caressing the piano in the other room. This is the exact scenario in which I am writing today, and it is heavenly. It’s bright and sunny outside, the birds seem high-spirited, and it’s Saturday, so that means there are only a couple of busses running. We live about thirty feet from a main bus thoroughfare, and at the top of a hill––so the bus noise is pretty constant during the week. Also––since we live next to the hospital––there are helicopters going over our house pretty constantly too. But not today! I hope that means that fewer people are requiring emergency care, but it probably means that the helicopter detail is on call over the weekend instead of taking joy rides for “training purposes.” Where did I come up with this theory? Right here, directly inside of my own brain ball.
Speaking of balls, yesterday I threw myself one! Oh and in case you’re curious like me––the word “ball” (for a dance party) comes from the Latin word “ballare,” which means “to dance.” The actual word “bal” was first used in the 12th century in France to mean “a formal dancing party.” The more you know! ––Anyway, it was my birthday on Wednesday (the 21st of July), and I was aching for a party, so I decided to just go ahead and treat myself. And boy was it a treat. I don’t know when I’ve had such a good time. Let me tell you a little about it.
I charged Adam with creating the invitations. He designed and printed them using our friends, Ryan and Luz’s risograph machine. It turned out so lovely, he did an absolutely perfect job. I didn’t even ask him to do this, but somehow he knew to print the body of the card hot pink. Which brings me to hot pink. Now, if you know me at all––or rather, if you’ve paid attention to my style and affinities at all––you know that I am not, and have never been a hot pink (or hot -anything) person. At least as an adult. But as I was thinking about and planning my birthday party, I started chewing on this thought that maybe the event could be a sort of a final farewell to my breast cancer––a strong acknowledgement of its presence in my life over the past year, but as a bookend, or a closure, rather than any kind of continuing acceptance of it. Then, to my complete surprise, as I started running with the idea, I realized that I’d been repressing decades of hot pink childhood fantasies! Who knew! So I allowed myself to fully embrace the color, and revel its sensual opulence throughout the whole ordeal. What a gift.
As I have done before and will do again, I required that everyone who attended the party “dress up” in some form or fashion. It’s the curse of Summer birthdays though, that your wardrobe options are limited to what you won’t die of heat stroke in, so there were no guests in mascot uniforms, unfortunately. One day I want to have a half-birthday party (February 8th is mine, I just calculated it) so we can wear mascot uniforms, ball gowns, full-body leotards, and four-piece suits––doesn’t that sound like fun?! Anyway, most everybody who came obeyed the mandate and it was a feast for the eyes. I can’t BELIEVE I didn’t take pictures. UGH. Sorry. I’ll try and do better next time.
I found a hand-sewn hot pink party dress probably from the early 80s. I’m may be wrong about this, but I feel like there was a short window in the early 80s where puffy sleeves were in, but the antebellum (v-shape) waistline hadn’t gone out yet. It’s such a chic look, in my book. Anyway, I did have to alter it quite a bit. I took off about 9″ from the hem, to bring it to just-below-the-knee length. It was too small, so I used material from the hemmage to add a couple of diamond panels on either side. The neckline was far too modest for my taste (and besides, I wanted to show off my new boob), so I gave it a plunge. It’s backless though, so giving it more space in the front meant that the puff-filled shoulders wanted to fall down lots, which would’ve been a fun night, but in the end, I decided to go with comfort and add a tie across the upper back. You may not have enjoyed reading all of that, but I can’t tell you how pleasing it was to write. Why? Because it turned out so great! I recycled my wedding petticoat to wear underneath it, found matching hot pink jewelry and shoes, and I felt like an absolute PRINCESS. It was the quintessential party dress, and I’ll never wear it again, lol.
Of course the purest pleasure of the event was not my ball gown or the color hot pink or the number 34, no, no. The greatest gift of all was the guests (that one above is the incomparable Emily Jalinsky). And I tell ya, I just couldn’t have asked for a better group of folks to party with. I cast my net kind of wide, inviting people that I suspected wouldn’t be able to come, and I was correct. Also it was a miserably hot and muggy day, and the invitation suggested that we would be outside, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned some folks away too. All in all, probably a quarter of those invited actually came, which honestly was the perfect size for Shereena’s house (where the party was). I have to admit I’m a tiny bit hurt that more people didn’t show up, but even as I’m writing this, I’m aware that focusing on that is not only ridiculous (there are so many valid reasons people mayn’t have been able to come), but also it keeps me from focusing on the guests who made my birthday so wonderful. And I don’t want anything to steal their thunder! I’m tempted to backspace a dozen sentences or so, but I won’t. Blogging is where I process shit. Deal withit.
Back to the guests. [Contented, happy sigh!] I have the best friends, guys! Lol, I’m actually struggling now to know what to write about them. They’re just the best! How do I find myself at the receiving end of such incredible friendships all the time? I’m so lucky. Every single human who came to the party last night had the energy of love and affection flowing out of them. Genuine kindness and curiosity dominated the conversation, we were all seamlessly engaging, listening, sharing, laughing… I can’t imagine a more perfect get-together. And without the afore-mentioned Shereena, none of it would’ve happened! Her house was perfect for the party and her hostess hospitality (and event coordinating experience) was BEYOND. Her generosity always floors me, and speaking of Shereena, and the floor:
So my breast cancer is over, the pandemic is on its way out, I’m 34 and have a whole ‘nother year left in Iowa City (at least). What’s next? Well, I’ll tell you!––Art Office, of course, and possibly a job at the hospital next door! That’s right, it’s payback time! As soon as my surgeon gives me the go-ahead, I’ll be applying to be a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), hopefully in their psych ward. The hospital trains and certifies you, there are full-time and part-time positions, and the pay is… meh! better than Blick (~$15/hr). My therapist is actually the one who recommended I look into being a CNA. She knows me better than most, and is enthusiastic about the idea, for the same reasons I am––first, it’s not boring! There’s always a new patient and a new problem, and I am good at problem-solving, not to toot my own horn. Also, the job is a job. You clock in and clock out, and your work stays at work.
One reason I’m interested in working in the psych ward specifically is that I’ve always had a sense of familiarity and compassion toward people struggling with mental health issues. Probably because of my own struggles and those of my friends and family. But also psychology and human behavior just fascinates me. If you don’t know from reading my blog––I love thinking about deep shit, especially where human connection is concerned. I don’t know if that would make me better at serving this population, but at the very least, I think being more aware of their issues would give me a better opportunity to be compassionate. Whether I’m up to the challenge of delivering said compassion is another question, but that’s a skill, and skills can be worked on.
And of course another big reason I think I’d be good in this position is that I’m cool as a cucumber in a crisis. Ask anyone who’s been in a crisis with me. When shit hits the fan, I suddenly know geometry and physics and can tell exactly where, when, and how the shit is going to hit everything and everyone in the room. I have superhuman strength and dexterity and can move from impact site to impact site, rescuing the frozen-in-fear. And it’s not just that I’m good at it––I thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve daydreamed of being a police officer for a long time––of course that’s just too much risk to put myself in realistically––but I know that I have this… gift? of being able to operate quickly and effectively under pressure, and this job really seems like a place where that part of me could be allowed to––if not thrive, then at least express itself.
I guess I haven’t said what a CNA does really. If you’re like me, you’ve assumed up until now that a CNA is a medical professional, and someone who has been through some degree of medical schooling and is able to explain medical things, treat conditions to some extent, and prescribe medications and exercises to patients. INCORRECT. Here are the responsibilities of a specific CNA position at the hospital here:
• Perform patient personal hygiene (bathing, toileting, feeding, dressing, grooming and oral care)
• Turn, position, and ambulate patients
• Assist patients with bedpans, urinals and perineal cleansing
• Take temperature, pulse and blood pressure
• Enter daily patient record charting in computer
• Perform simple diagnostic/therapeutic procedures (i.e., dressing changes)
• Clean equipment, patient bedside area and nursing unit
• Set up rooms for patient admission
• Transport patients by bed, cart or wheelchair
• Transport equipment, specimens and supplies
• Stock and supply patient rooms and Nursing unit
• Perform basic CPR as required
• Maintain patient confidentiality
Easy peasy guacamole. And having been in and out of the hospital for the past year, I already know quite a bit about procedures, terminology, and just generally “the way we do things around here.” I have high hopes that this will be a good fit for me. And of course, I would only want to work a part-time position, so that I have time and energy to devote to Art Office.
And speaking of Art Office, did I mention we have a fundraiser coming up? I’m getting excited about it! And also nervous. But only nervous because I have to shoot a video for the Kickstarter, and I don’t know the first thing about making engaging, interesting videos. Fortunately, I’m married to someone who does have that expertise, but that’s never stopped me from being nervous before. I think as soon as we start shooting, I’ll calm down. It’s the premonitory jitters is all.
But I think I’ll blog about that another time. This is long enough. Tootles for now!