Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, February 28, 2003

Check this out...

The latest "My Turn" in Newsweek was written by a librarian/school media specialist, Jami Jones. It describes how an experience in her personal life helped educate her to the need to get better involved in teens and their emotional needs.

The practice she refers to, cutting, is common among borderlines. I had reached a point where I was starting to cut myself, and I've done other self-destructive things as a way to distract myself from emotional pain or remind myself that I was still here, still flesh, still capable of feeling physical pain. In essence, I became my own abuser. Something like 1 in 10 borderlines will succeed in suicide. I count myself as one of the lucky ones, because I had someone who reached out to me before it was too late.

I commend Dr Jones for reaching out to teens and for presenting this topic in such a widely-read magazine. I'm sure many, many parents out there would be shocked at what their children might be doing to themselves. And, unfortunately in many cases, the parents are either abusive or incapable of giving the child the love and support necessary. It's up to the rest of us to help.

I had never told anyone--not therapist, not any of my family or friends, the things I did to myself, the feelings I had of suicide, the pain I felt. Finally one day, when I had been acting out and was generally irrational, I broke down, and it came out. It was a shock to those who thought they knew me. I shocked myself. It became obvious, even to me, that I had to seek professional help, and I embarked on a year of dialectical behaviour therapy as a result. It turned my life around, and while I still have to work every day to maintain my newfound health, a lot of the pain is gone. I have hope for the first time in years. Other people deserve that, too.

I've e-mailed Dr Jones to include me in a list of contacts interested in building resiliency in teens. I've long wanted to get involved in something along this line, ways to build self-esteem so they might avoid abusive relationships, underachievement, depression, etc.

More verbiage

I saw the first tips of hyacinths coming up around a neighbour's patio today. Yea! Spring has almost sprung! And while it's not sunny today, it is one of those misty, sort of late winter/early spring days that greens everything up. The creek was beautiful this morning--higher water than normal rushing over rocks with spray and steam rising from it. :) It's enough to make me ignore all the mud.

Friday Fun

Got these snippets of medical humour in e-mail today and laughed, and laughed; I decided I'd needed some humour today, and maybe you do, too. Haven't a clue as to their veracity. Does it matter? PS The one about the Kentucky woman is a classic. We've made up all sorts of jokes with that product because of where we live.

A man comes into the ER and yells, "My wife's going to have her baby in
the cab!" I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady's
dress, and began to take off her underwear. Suddenly I noticed that
there were several cabs, and I was in the wrong one.

Dr. Mark MacDonald, San Antonio, TX

* * * * * * * * * * * *

At the beginning of my shift, I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and
slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall. "Big breaths," I
instructed. "Yes, they used to be," remorsefully replied the patient.

Dr. Richard Byrnes, Seattle, WA

* * * * * * * * * * *

One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her
husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct. Not more than five
minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he
had died of a "massive internal fart."

Dr. Susan Steinberg, Manitoba, Canada

* * * * * * * * *

I was performing a complete physical, including the visual acuity test.
I placed the patient twenty feet from the chart and began, "Cover your
right eye with your hand." He read the 20/20 line perfectly. "Now your
left." Again, a flawless read. "Now both," I requested. There was
silence. He couldn't even read the large E on the top line. I turned and
discovered that he had done exactly what I had asked; he was standing
there with both his eyes covered. I was laughing too hard to finish the

Dr. Matthew Theodropolous, Worcester, MA

* * * * * * * * * * * *

While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, "How long
have you been bedridden?" After a look of complete confusion she
answered, "Why, not for about twenty years -- when my husband was

Dr. Steven Swanson, Corvallis, OR

* * * * * * * * * *

I was caring for a woman from Kentucky and asked, "So, how's your
breakfast this morning?" "It's very good, except for the Kentucky Jelly.
I can't seem to get used to the taste," the patient replied. I then
asked to see the jelly and the woman produced a foil packet labeled "KY

Dr. Leonard Kransdorf, Detroit, MI

* * * * * * * * * * * *

And Finally . . . . .

A new, young MD doing his residency in OB was quite embarrassed
performing female pelvic exams. To cover his embarrassment he had
unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly. The middle-aged lady
upon whom he was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing and
further embarrassed him. He looked up from his work and sheepishly said,
"I'm sorry. Was I tickling you?" She replied, "No doctor, but the song
you were whistling was 'I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener'."

Homonyms are my enemy

I was glancing through the comments for this site and found one where Zabet asked about where I'd typed "shone" instead of "shown". I went back and read that and it was funny. I think I was subconsciously thinking of how the light shone in the auditorium from the projector. But it did get me thinking. When I was younger I was a very good speller. I didn't need no stinking spell checker! But the more education I get, the more time goes on, the more I slip towards decrepitude (okay, I know, I'm in my mid-thirties, I have no reason to complain) the more trouble I have especially typing. Why is that? I mean, I know something has to give as you squish more useless facts into a brain, but spelling's pretty important (well, to me--not to modern education, apparently). Also, I type pretty fast but I think faster. And when I type I sometimes sound the words out in my head a little before it makes it to the screen, sort of like a teleprompter. My biggest problem, and the reason I live for the backspace key, is the homonym. And unfortunately it's not just your standard ones like their, there, they're, etc., although that one's probably the worst. It's things like our and are, which are only homonyms in my dialect of English, I suspect. (Oddly enough I don't have trouble with were and wore, which also sound the same for me.) I don't use a spell-check with my blogging but the homonyms wouldn't be caught anyway. Sigh. I begin to think that my brain really is fuzzy mush where everything gets piled together. Homonyms must have their own piles, and I think I pick the first one off the pile when I type. Aaaagggghhhh!!!

Friday at last!

1. What is your favorite type of literature to read (magazine, newspaper, novels, nonfiction, poetry, etc.)?
Mystery and sci fi/phantasy

2. What is your favorite novel?
Just one???? Um...The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

3. Do you have a favorite poem? (Share it!)
"Fern Hill" by Dylan Thomas

It's fairly long. Here is the last stanza:

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

4. What is one thing you've always wanted to read, or wish you had more time to read?
The Ramayana. I'm working on the Bhagavad Gita which is a subset of it. The Ramayana is an ancient text and at least in terms of ancient literature it was the world's longest poem. I'm not sure that's still the case. Still, there is much of Indian culture to be learnt from it, and it's probably closer to some of the beliefs of our "Indo-European" ancestors than most.

5. What are you currently reading?
I'm still wending my way through Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring. I started and finished Elizabeth Peters' The Seventh Sinner last night. I had no idea it was out there; I'd never seen it before I found it at the library, and it's a Jacqueline Kirby mystery! The one they keep referring to in Rome! So, satisfaction was to be had by getting the complete series under my belt. I'm also reading From the Ashes of Fallen Angels by Andrew Collins? (I don't have the book here). Interesting. He's no Biblical scholar, so there are sometimes some leaps that I don't think he can prove, but he brings up very interesting questions. His book is, I think, the main basis for another book I'm reading, Storm Constantine's Scenting Hallowed Blood. There's also Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. All I can say is thank the Gods I'm vegetarian. Oh, and there's Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg and Eccentric Circles by Rebecca Lickiss, and A Woman's Guide to the Language of Success: Communicating with Confidence and Power by Phyllis Mindell (since I'm working on job hunting). Obviously I put down books and pick them up as the mood strikes. Last night I was reading from fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And of course there's the Bhagavad Gita. But that's everything current, I think. I have a couple more out from the library but I haven't gotten to them yet.

Thursday, February 27, 2003


I got two phone calls this morning of gloom. One was news that Mister Rogers had died. I loved Mister Rogers as a little kid, although I went through a "gag, how nice can any one person be?" phase in my 20s that put Mister Rogers right under Barney in terms of sugary evil and the sole purchaser of cardigans throughout the eighties and nineties. But in retrospect, we need more people like Fred Rogers in the world. If there were more like him, we wouldn't be hurtling toward a stupid war and living in a world marred by so much hatred. He will be sorely missed.

The second call had news of the cancellation of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. No more Buffy after this season? What will I do on Tuesday nights? There is supposed to be a spinoff in the works. But it's not the same. Fortunately there have been enough seasons that I'm sure Buffy will be slaying for years to come in syndication. See, I'm not such a rabid fan that I think it's the sign of yet another apocolypse. Still, Buffy and the scoobies will also be missed.

Beyond that, I feel a little better, having gone to sleep around 7 last night and crashing most of the night. I did wake up around 3am (fortunately) with my blood sugar bottoming out and managed to fortify myself with orange juice and peanut butter. On the whole, though, today seems better. It occurs to me that my attempt to post yesterday didn't go through at all. Suffice to say that yesterday I felt like the life had been sucked out of me, mainly because of a weather change. It was gloomy and snowy and just generally more oppressive winter ickiness.

[begin RANT]
For the record, I'm tired of winter. I'm tired of snow and ice. I want to see flowers and butterflies and hummingbirds. I want to see the sun! I want to be able to run around in short sleeves without freezing anything. I want to walk outside without seeing my breath. Hello! It's almost spring! Can't we have a little spring-like weather???
[end RANT]

Anyway, today's a little better. I don't know if it's the rest or just that the week is almost over and there seems to be better weather (sun???!!) coming this weekend, but it's great nevertheless.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Not completely free...

An addendum: I didn't realise when I wrote later, but we have had a fatality from the ice storm. A Lawrenceburg man, Ambrose Stratton, died five days after being impaled by a tree limb which fell from the ice. He had held on until early yesterday morning at the University of Kentucky hospital. Mr Stratton was 78; he was struck by a limb in his on yard. Poor man...

About 7700 homes in the area are without power still. But that's 95% of those who had lost power reconnected. There's been a lot of harsh words aimed at KU (Kentucky Utilities) management, but I'm not sure how warranted it is. This is the biggest storm we've ever had to deal with, and given the amount of development in the last 20 years, well, Lexington's a lot bigger than it used to be. But for the linemen who have been working so hard, and the crews from outside the area, I think everyone has only praise. Thank you all so much!!!

Ah, the thaw, the wet, the mud...

We still have a lot of people without power. But the crews are still working nonstop, including people who came from North Carolina and Virginia. We are beginning to wonder, however, if some sort of stars aligned--in the past couple of weeks we have had a terrible ice storm, floods, a factory explosion, and most recently, a tornado that hit over the weekend in one of the other counties.

I talked to one of my friends, whom I game with, briefly yesterday. She was sick from having no power for days. They have heat, etc. now, but she sounded awful. Most of my coworkers are back in their homes now, but one woman I talked to lost had a surge go through when her power was restored. The fax machine's melted, and various appliances may be as well. So they're still living with relatives. Strangest story of the Storm of '03? Another friend, who went with her husband and cats from a house with no power, phone, gas, etc. over to her sister-in-law's. Then the power there went out. They tried to make the most of it by building a fire, but apparently there was ice or some other blockage, with a lot of smoke coming back inside. She got pretty sick from the smoke--they gave her oxygen the next morning. They went on to a friend's house after unsuccessfully trying to get her sister-in-law to leave. Turns out they may have had carbon monoxide poisioning. They couldn't go back into their house because when the heat came back on there was a gas leak that at first couldn't be found, then turned out to be in a neighbour's yard near the intake for their heater, so a lot of CO wound up in their house. Fortunately Columbia Gas was great--she had a special number that rang right into the place she needed to stay in contact with and they aired out her house and checked the CO levels. Meanwhile, she'd finally gotten a shower after three days and had a warm place to sleep and eat. The only problem, really, was that in grabbing things initially from the house (and not thinking they wouldn't be allowed to return) she pulled out plenty of pairs of undwear for her husband but only had two for herself--the highly uncomfortable "special" Valentine's Day lingerie she'd had with her when they'd first come back after the ice storm, and one other. She complained about the tight fit--apparently she'd washed it and it shrank--I told her that she needed to stop by Wal-mart and get some more comfy underwear. She went home to her friend's to find that the woman's Sheltie had torn her only other pair (which was dirty) to shreds and left a little "bread-crumb" trail of cotton about. It seemed a perfect ending to a very odd week. So, needless to say, she went and got some bras and panties. :) Next day they finally were able to go back to their own house and she slept the best she had in awhile. She managed to retrieve her cats from yet another relative's house, and they are all reunited and happy. The sister-in-law was eventually persuaded to move before too much lasting damage could be done to her health. So far, so good.

It's amazing, really, that as bad as everything was no one (knock on wood) died or had any major injuries. And in typical weird Kentucky weather, we warmed up first to the 40s and then to the 50s briefly, melting the rest of the ice. The trees just all sprang up. The next day we had snow, but it was a wet one of little real account. No more ice, thankfully. It's even a little sunny right now, which I think will send people's spirits up. I know it's helping with mine.

Friday night I played Scrabble over at Zabet's. She and her hubby had gotten their tax refund in and splurged on a full-sized board, so we don't have to worry about the zingers popping out of the plastic case on my travel version. I did my laundry, and we went to Kroger's and Liquor Barn. I needed to get some libation wine, but I also found a heather ale and some mead. Zabet was telling me in all seriousness that since I tend to like stout I'd probably like something else better when I pointed out that I wasn't actually intending to drink it. I thought it would be perfect for Celtic libations. She grinned shook her head and said something, like, "Oh, sorry, to think I might expect you to drink it!" Actually, I do intend to try it. I don't know what magical formula they managed to dream up, but historically heather ale was brewed from heather flowers--with no hops. Since I think it's the hops that I tend to dislike in standard beers, it may actually suit my tastes quite well. I'm going to save the mead for Bealtane, but I know I like mead. :) It's one of the few alcohols I do care for. This is made in Britain and has some spices to be mixed in.

I don't know if it was because of the impending thunderstorms or just getting out for the first time in nearly a week, but I couldn't go to sleep Friday until about 5 am. I just felt energised. I cleaned out my refrigerator and put in a new video card for the computer, then sat down for awhile playing Morrowind, which required that card. A coworker had given me the game. It's a little trickier to move around than with Daggerfall, its predecessor. But still, I'm hooked.

Saturday I finally was able to get my tofu fix. I'd been having cravings. I went to Bangkok House and had spring rolls, fried tofu, and tofu pad tai. Yummy!!!!! Saturday night I finished listening to David Suchet reading Agatha Christie's "Evil Under the Sun" and got some rest.

Sunday I spent cleaning and playing Morrowind. At one point I gave myself a tremendous asthma attack using some air freshener spray that someone had given me from Pier 1. She hadn't cared for the scent. It's strong, but I didn't mind it too much. However, I didn't realise it had petroleum distillates and hydroflurocarbons. It tended to make me a little tight--I've used it several times. I don't know why this was worse--I didn't spray that much. But even after taking my albuterol I couldn't breathe well enough to talk. I just wheezed. I went ahead and laid down with the CPAP machine on, thinking that at least I'd have some filtered air. That helped, although the histimine reaction had blocked one side of my nose and my eyes just ran and ran. Needless to say, after I did that for a little over an hour and finally felt like I wasn't just going to die, I got up, threw the spray in the trash, and then went on to sleep. I don't think they let you into heaven if you aphyxiate yourself with air freshener. :)

Anyway, there's my exciting life for you.

Friday, February 21, 2003

It's Friday

1. What is your most prized material possession?
I will not include my pets in that--but in a disaster those would be most important--what I could not leave behind. In terms of an actual object, though--while there are plenty of things that I could not replace, there's nothing I can think of that I prize so much that I would say it is above all others. The closest is a doll's case from Tokyo that my father brought me when I was little. It's made it through our moves, my ex, and my cats, although I very nearly thought I lost it a few weeks ago when it came crashing to the ground after Darius slept on top of it. It has a silk geisha in a komono arranging flowers.

2. What item, that you currently own, have you had the longest?
I'm not sure which is older: My teddy bear, which I received on my first birthday, or an infant bracelet of silver and turquoise.

3. Are you a packrat?
Oh, definitely, to the point that I'm on medication for obsessively hoarding. :)

4. Do you prefer a spic-and-span clean house? Or is some clutter necessary to avoid the appearance of a museum?
In theory clean lines are more relaxing than clutter. But I hate walking into a house that does not look lived in--like all those magazines where they have a cat or dog pose in the living room where there is not one hair on the upolstery. Really!

5. Do the rooms in your house have a theme? Or is it a mixture of knick-knacks here and there?
My house is rather ecclectic. My bathroom is done in black and white, with a phantasy theme of dragons, unicorns, and wizards, but that was as much accident as artifice. My bedroom has a tendency towards celestial and Asian knick knacks. The rest of the house is mostly colourful paintings and books, with such things as windchimes, sparkling suncatchers, etc. It's rather organic, I suppose, like a garden. Clean enough to relax in, wild enough to have its own independent character.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Greetings from Ice-encased Lexington...

Sorry I didn't blog over the weekend. Saturday I was a friend's until it occurred to me that I should go home due to freezing rain. At that point I was already sliding all over the grass and sidewalks and my umbrella was encased in ice. By 7am Sunday my power, like thousands of others in the area, went out. Lexington is encased in about a half to .75 inch of ice, with mature trees breaking limbs right and left, small trees just snapping, power lines down everywhere, and at one point there were over 100 intersections that were dark in the city.

It could have been worse, I suppose. My mom and grandmother are fine because they didn't get much ice where they live. We didn't get the snow that clobbered the northeast on top of the ice. If that had happened I don't think the city could have dug out for at least a couple of weeks. As it is, many people are not expected to get power until at least the weekend. Our mayor is imploring employers to not require people to come in unless absolutely necessary--they're trying to keep people off the streets so the crews can clear away trees. The people to the southeast of us aren't dealing with ice, they're being flooded--and of course as this mess melts we will too; the ground's already saturated.

I lost my power (including heat, stove, and hot water) for almost exactly 24 hours, but I was able to hunker down under the covers with the animals and we muddled through. My apartment's fairly well insulated. I think it only got down to about 50 degrees inside--you couldn't see your breath. Sunday was pretty much a bust, where it was too cloudy outside to see much or get any real cleaning done that didn't require electricity. I didn't have a radio with batteries, but I did have a phone and checked on people/got news that way. I did manage to get through the Council of Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring. The power flickered on three times for a few seconds throughout the day, to which I said in my best Invader Zim voice "Why do they taunt me so??!!" But when it did come on I just waited to see if it would stay on. I had almost precognitively taken off Monday anyway (no, we didn't get it as a holiday, but I had decided I wanted to do some spring cleaning and get some rest). So I cleaned for a few hours then took a warm shower (blessed warm water!!!) and settled down with my CPAP machine (it blows air into my nose so I don't stop breathing when I sleep). I got more rest in a couple of hours than I had the entire day Sunday.

Most of my friends are okay--cable was out at one house, while another became a place for showers/shelter (see Zabet's blog). I could have gone over there (and they offered to come get me) but I didn't really want to leave my pets with the trees looming out the back, and I couldn't take them with me. My friend Dwana and her husband didn't fare as well. They'd been in Berea when the storm hit in a hotel for Valentine's weekend, with a hot tub, etc. Berea just got rain. They really didn't know what they'd be returning to. Their house had no phone, electricity, or gas, and a tree was threatening to come down on the house. They took their cats with them to his sister's, but then the electricity went out there. Then the next day her husband Eric's workplace, a nursing home, had to be partially evacuated and then they moved some residents into the hallways with space heaters. Dwana helped there and then came to work. The hospital was no longer on emergency power but she couldn't even get them to let her take a shower here. Sheesh! They stayed at her sister-in-law's again but the fireplace wasn't working right (it may be blocked by ice), so they got a lot of smoke in the house before they finally let it go out. It went down to 34 in the house and she woke up this morning pretty cold and coughing. Her stepfather came and got the cats and she went over to another friend's. I'd kind of hoped they'd either gotten power restored or had gone to a shelter last night. According to the gas company they still can't go to their house. But at least they're somewhere with heat and hot water now, and she's been able to get a little bit of rest today.

One of my coworkers stayed at the hospital last night. Several others are in motels or staying with others or just roughing it. Our administrator e-mailed the directors yesterday to make sure no one felt compelled to come in. They've also made it possible for those with kids out of school to come in for today at least, with the kids being shown movies in the auditorium. We have very few patients today, as many have cancelled and our census was low for inpatient anyway. Anyway, I feel blessed to have my heat, etc. back on. And this morning for the first time the sound of sirens was replaced with the sound of chainsaws. In fact, a crew was taking care of the tree that was threatening my apartment as I left for work today.

I didn't have too much trouble getting here; I walked and tried to stay far away from power lines and potential falling limbs. The woods near my house are gut-wrenching. They look like a giant just trampled them. The little creek is just about to the top of its banks. The maple that lights up like fire in the fall outside the library window is now broken in half. The same can be said for a once-beautiful birch out back. Not a single tree seems totally untouched.

Meanwhile we have people who really are trying to put evolution into action. One guy went out, got a gas generator, and set it up in the living room of his third floor apartment. So, while he was fortunate enough to have emergency crews break in just before he expired from carbon monoxide fumes, the entire building had to be evacuated (how to become really unpopular with your neighbours!!) And there have been several dozens of people who have gone to the hospital due to hibachis or grills being used indoors, etc. I've heard of one guy that went and got a lot of generators and then went out to the stricken areas to sell them at a hefty profit. But a lot of good is happening, too. One guy took a generator over to a neighbour who is terminally ill and on various medical devices. People have helped each other dig out from under trees, etc.

Just about everyone at work is out of power, living in a motel, etc. So, I'm glad to have my heat and hot water, etc. Hopefully everything will get better soon.

Friday, February 14, 2003


1. Explain why you started to journal/blog.
A good portion of it had to do with dealing with some really difficult physical and mental health issues. This is the first time in my life I've been able to consistently "journal" because I've always been such a perfectionist/OCD kind a of girl that when I don't keep up on print journals I constantly have to tear out pages and start all over. Yeah, I know. :) Also, I wanted to show that librarians aren't the bun-toting prigs that everyone seems to think they are. It was also a good way to keep people posted on how I was doing. (See next question).

2. Do people you interact with day to day or family members know about your journal/blog? Why or why not?
Actually, yes. That way when we get together we don't have to spend time rehashing the week's frustration and can just concentrate on interacting at the time. It's helped me stay closer to friends.

3. Do you have a theme for your journal/blog?The mad librarian.

4. What direction would you like to have your journal/blog go in over the next year?
I'd like it to hopefully turn to a brighter side as I seem to be getting better.

5. Pimp five of your favorite journals/blogs.
1. What was I doing again? (and no, I don't know what's happening with Zabet's site. I don't know if there's a problem with Blogger or if she got hacked. But she is not the spiky haired chick who wants to blow her brains out whose weblog I keep pulling up.
2. Open Escape
3. Librarian Avengers
4. Abbie the Cat
5. Sean Biggerstaff's Official Webpage Adorable. Scottish. Hilariously funny, especially for an up-and-coming "star". What more is there to say?

PS I was a little surprised that according to iMood the Internet felt "loved" (it's normally "tired"). Then I suddenly remembered that it's Valentine's Day. (Having been single for about 12 years, I kind of forget). The high point of my day was getting an anti-Valentine card from Zabet from notsosoft.com It featured a picture of Cupid with the caption "Fat. Naked. Dangerous". :)

Sad news on the technology front. Salon.com has announced that it may not stay afloat past February. Apparently it hasn't been able to pay it's $200,000 rent because advertising dollars have not been enough to keep it afloat. Hopefully they'll make it. They're a great alternative to standard news. I don't get a chance to read as much as I should, but they've got a very faithful following.

I got a picture of my friend Tracita and her future hubby in e-mail today. She looks great! He looks great! Gee. Tracy is one of those models of how hard-work and a head that screwed on right can take you far in life. I wish I'd had half her sense in my 20s. She's not just pursuing her dream of working for NASA; she is working at the Jet Propulsion lab in Pasadena. Go Tracy! (And yea! we've managed to exchange three e-mails in a week. Maybe we can actually keep in touch. This Internet thing is so nifty. I wish we'd had it when I was an Air Force brat and moving every other year.)

I know I haven't blogged much this week. I've been doing a lot of cleaning at home (I was quite literally being taken over by books and paper). I had my perrformance appraisal at work. My boss stressed that I'm doing great now but that she had to score me for the whole year. I came out 6 points (out of a possible 400) away from getting a 3% raise, so it'll only be 2%. That sort of sucks. I'm usually a hard grader on my self-assessment, but I gave myself 30 points more than she did. I think part of it is that while everyone else at work seems to think I do a great job, my boss and her boss tend to think I'm doing nothing unless I specifically point it out. So, where I agreed with the couple of things that I "occasionally didn't meet standard"--my attendance back when I was so sick, which wasn't missing days but lateness and having to take off for so many doctor appointments, and communication with the doctors and my boss--I had more actual operational and interdisciplinary cooperation items that I occasional exceed standards. My strong points have always been working with different groups within the hospital and my skills at searching, getting articles, and core library skills. She only rated one as exceeding standards. A friend was shocked. She sees what I do on a daily basis, and she's missed way more than I ever did with her health issues, but she has a more understanding boss. She was particularly concerned that even though I improved months ago it didn't the scores didn't really reflect it. And her boss thought it sucked that I was so close to another % raise. As far as she's concerned, I'm probably the least appreciated person in the hospital. It doesn't normally bother me that much. But, well, it does sometimes. And I've always gotten the max before--I've worked really hard at taking the library from a dusty collection of outdated books to a full range of services, and updated and useful collection that attracts a lot of use, and reaching out to the families and patients through the resource room. Considering I spent a year and a half suicidal and managed to come in every day, keep everything running, did the updates, created the resource rrom, and still managed a department (and come to think of it, I was president of a professional organisation during that time, too), so I think that's the important thing. And even more important, I'm still around, and I feel I'm finally back to myself. I guess I'm just still living with the consequences of my illness.

When I did my self-assessment I broached the problem of feeling like the change of supervisory styles has been a factor. I realise that I just don't get her in the way that I did with K. But when I got into the meeting with her, I just didn't feel talking about how I felt with her. I don't it would matter, really. She's such an abrupt person, and a little patronising, and well, I think it may just be better to focus on finding a position where the management understands librarianship and can make a better judgment of my skills.

Anyway, I was a little discouraged yesterday. I just put my energy into scrubbing my shower. :) It'll get better, I suppose, but I really need to find another job. I could deal with the low pay so long as I had the library to build up. But I can't really expand services further, I can't go up in the structure, being the only librarian, and I have yet to make $24,000 a year when entry-level librarians in town start out at $32,000. I simply don't make enough to support a car or maybe someday get a little house of my own. But more importantly I don't feel like I'm going anywhere career-wise, and unfortunately, I can't even get my professional needs met through going to conferences, etc., because frankly despite all the education I've given them on the library profession, it doesn't matter. I couldn't even get my boss to approve a suggestion box for the new family resource centre because they couldn't see any reason for the families giving us direct feedback rather than walking all the way back to the back of the building and putting in a card as they went out. Never mind that six months ago I could just order the damn box myself. Or that all the clinical departments and the cafeteria have them. I guess I'll just make one myself.

At least I have gotten past feeling like I'm a failure and realising that I'm just in a position, where quite frankly, things are set up for a "failure to thrive". All in all, I've done amazing things compared to what it was like when I came in six years ago. Unfortunately they probably won't understand until I leave. It's not that I don't think someone else could do as well--but at what they're paying, and even they now list my job as MLS-preferred rather than required like when I came, they'll be lucky to get a library science student to do the job, much less an experienced professional. And as far as I'm concerned, that's what they deserve--because that's what they seem to want. I'm tired of giving 110% for no good reason. I'd rather put my resources into a job where I can buy into the mission AND be given the tools to implement it. :)

Well, I guess that's enough for now. I came in tonight and just slept for a few hours, so I'm going to play a little Sims, take a break from cleaning, and start enjoying a three-day weekend. (No, we don't get off for President's Day--but I decided to take it off and recharge. It seems I needed it.)

Saturday, February 08, 2003


Friends connect for different reasons. I had a gnosis this morning in the shower. I've said before that my definition of friend is someone I can depend on and for whom I will be there as well. This is a bit oversimplified, but...D is the friend I can rely on to tell me the truth, no matter how harsh. Zabet is the friend that understands where I'm coming from--and understands that sometimes you just have to rant. P is the friend who cheers me. A is the friend who spurs me to action. And my newest friend, Dwana? She accepts me as I am. Maybe that's partly because she didn't through the roughest times with me (or at least I hope the roughest times are behind me). But the others--well, because they've seen me at my worst, I sometimes feel I can't escape that image. It's hard, even when you go through change, to change others images of you. But Dwana doesn't have that background. She sees me as I am now. She isn't blind to my faults--and I've tried to make sure she knows about most of them, seeing as she sometimes puts people on a pedestal. But somehow, even when I'm feeling bitchy, I somehow seem to feel like transcending pettiness to a better place when she's around. I think having all these wonderful people in my life, with all their special qualities, help keep me on an even keel. I hope I do the same for them, although I'm not sure what my main function is. And if you mix it up with a mother who shared my childhood and in some ways we sort of banded to survive life with my dad--well, it all works out well. She still sees me as her little girl, but she sees me as a woman, too, ,and I think she's proud of me, though she naturally worries.

I guess all in all I'm kind of blessed.

And speaking of my mom, I got home tonight and listened to a message from her. And all I can is:

To all those health professionals who told me at age 19 that there was no reason to check my blood sugar when I was getting sleepy/shaky in the afternoons, because no one close to me had diabetes:

My maternal great-grandmother died of a diabetic stroke. A great-grandmother on my father's side was"borderline diabetic" (an obsolete term, really) whose parents and every single brother were diabetic. Not close enough? When I was 19, my mother was 39, my grandmother was 62. Now my grandmother has a very brittle form of diabetes and is on insulin. I was put on metformin because my insulin was mucking with my hormones, and now a diabetes educator says that since I've spiked above 200 I'm diabetic. My mom's sister went in for a routine pap and was sent home on insulin because hers was over 300. My mom's boyfriend, who is himself a diabetic, has been insisting that her blood sugar has been off, because he's noticed the same symptoms. The doctors kept saying, after giving her glucose tolerance tests, that there's no problem. Today she's officially diabetic. Not close to me? Every freaking relative within two degrees of relation to me with the exception of my uncle is diabetic. That was an idiotic statement seventeen years ago. It is now, too. The nurse I talked to had the right of it. People with normal endocrine systems just don't spike much above the "normal" levels. It doesn't matter if it's 180 or 400 in terms of a malfunction--just in terms of the damage that can be caused. They talk about how many people have diabetes but don't know it. I think the health profession sometimes ignores all the signs, too. It's not just ignorance on the patient's part. I'm lucky, I'm younger at my diagnosis, and I've been on medicine long before I was considered diabetic. There are still people out there who think kids can't be Type II diabetic. Wrong. And granted, some of it is diet and sedentary lifestyle. But it's also in the genes. I just wish they'd listen to the patient once in awhile. This is one thing I didn't want to share with my mom. Grrr.... At least she's a nurse and has had a diabetic husband (who lost a leg and then had a massive heart attack and died--every time I want to go hog wild, I think of him, or my great-grandmother needing help to thread a needle). Diabetes is scary, but because it's so common these days people act like it's a lark. Hell, even I try to deny how much I need to consider it in life. My grandmother lives by her medicine schedule and frets over every morsel of food. I've done the same, although at some point I decided that I didn't want it to rule me. Still it's a fine line to balance on.

So, Momma, welcome to the club, unfortunately. At least we've bred our very own support group. :) Love and hope--Lisa.

Friday, February 07, 2003

What I've been up to...

Wednesday: Mental health post-JCAHO survey vacation day. Sleep until 10 am. Put away clothes. Sleep. Clean under the bed to store painting. Sleep. Spring cleaning (yes, I'm trying to get a jump on things). Sleep. Check mail. Become annoyed that I have not received my medical reimbursement cheque. Call company. Cheque sent out on Monday. Sleep. Wake up at midnight, celebrate influx of paycheque by going to ATM, then Walgreens, and getting Paxil, cat food, dog food, protein bar, caffeine-free Diet Coke, and half pint of waffle cone ice cream.

Thursday: Back to work. Attend hand hygiene inservice explaining our upcoming evaluation of alcohol sanitation gels. Read e-mail. Try to discover source of muffin and candy bar care package left in my chair while off. Take early lunch so can be fueled for blood drive. Stop by lab and beg latex-free tourniquet so that the phlebotomist doesn't have to use a blood pressure cuff on me.

Go to blood mobile. Wait in line. Chat with coworkers. Go through screening. Fill out much paperwork. Discover for first time that I am postive for CMV. Not sure what that is. Keep asking people. Finally find out it's sort of like mononucleosis, not usually a problem unless you first get it when you're pregnant, but they won't give my blood to infants or people with immunosuppression. Okay. Seventeen years later I think I now know what my boyfriend and I had that never would test positive for mono but kept each of us sick for about a semester with mono symptoms and led me to have an eye infection, kidney infection, and my last bout of strep. Caught it in January of 1986 and didn't feel well till June. Sometimes wondered if that could have triggered my fibromyalgia. Hmm...Epstein-Barr-like. Isn't that one of the suspects for chronic fatigue? Anyway, good to know it probably won't cause more mayhem. I'm O positive, and we have a blood shortage, so I fill out paperwork and then go to get stuck. Go through the special screening questions, including some new ones, including being a military dependent. Turns out never getting out of the USA a plus. Pulse 78. Blood pressure 110/65. Is your BP normally that low? Sometimes. Wildly gesticulate to woman who is about to open latex glove box while trying to talk around thermometer strip. Temperature 99.2 degrees. I'm latex allergic. How am I supposed to stick you? I can stick myself if that would help. Oh, no, I need gloves just to touch your skin. She goes off in search of purple nitrile gloves. They only come in small. She grumbles and sticks me. Much blood. She tapes gauze around my finger and puts blood in what looks like a Copper Sulfate solution. Amazing! It sinks! She hands me the bags and paperwork and calls "next"!

Much waiting. Must have right-armed chair. One phlebotomist to take care of ten people in line. Finally, my turn. I am latex allergic. Oh. I brought my own tourniquet. Tourniquet applied. Much feeling for vein. Iodine applied. Search for gloves. Big man. Big hands. Cannot get in purple gloves. Co-worker runs to lab to get bigger gloves. Tourniquet tight. Sigh. Gloves applied. "Let's hope I hit the vein on the first try. I can't feel my fingers in these gloves". Ah, reassuring. Hits vein, though it hurts. Begin pumping. Thank God, first try. Pump. Pump. Joke. Talk. Needle taken out. Swab everything down. Read paper for a few minutes while recover. Paper tape around arm; blue stuff has latex in it. I have a drink and a cookie, then toddle off.

Discover that I have been in the bloodmobile for nearly two hours. It is now snowing. Find that while I was gone my boss couldn't find me, paged me, generally panicked over a piece of equipment that isn't my responsibility and an assignment that I'm doing as other, non-library-related to help out. Funny, two different people say they never heard me paged. I am really tired of my boss getting flustered. I feel like I should send her e-mail when I go to the bathroom. Here we had all these e-mails urging us to donate. I don't think anyone else complained. She just comes off as if I'm derelict of duty when I'm in the office almost all the time and the one time she looks for me she can't find me. It wouldn't take a genius to figure out where I was--and I didn't realise how long I would be or I would have told her I was going out to the bloodmobile.

I call tech people who change toner in equipment. I ask tech if we can make it clear that they are the ones to call. He sticks a sign and has his Director send out an e-mail to everyone to that effect. Maybe that'll help. I ask for clarification on other task. Person wants it weekly. Higher priority than I was led to believe. Apparently my boss was doing my performance appraisal and asked that person about this task. Grrrrr....wish people would communicate better. Believe my performance appraisal will really quite suck, unjustly so. :( Spend rest of afternoon printing out the stupid surveys that are so danged important that they can't give them to a secretary to do.

Dwana and I escape at 5 and go to Fazoli's. Have a nice dinner. Check mail. Still no cheque. :( Nearly $400 in limbo! We go into my house and talk, talk, talk, until almost midnight. She loves my cats and dog. Darius gets introduced after I pull him out of a closet. Gay cat? :) Later he comes out and rubs against her. Weird. Maybe he's finally getting a clue that people can be good to him. Gee he's only 11. She didn't mind the state of the house at all. I didn't get all weird about someone being in my house. Go figure. We had a nice visit. The couch is long enough that two people can sit with their feet facing each other and talk. Take off bandage. Arm badly bruised. Dwana exclaims. I tell her this is normal for me. She says her mother (a nurse) would chew someone out for that. I told her he said that I had a good vein but most people were afraid of using that one because it's so close to an artery. Again, reassuring, no? She laughed. Said that's why it probably bruised so badly--it's on the side of my elbow rather than the middle. Dwana had talked to her husband earlier and he was working late so we were in no big hurry. She had told her husband she was bringing him Fazoli's. Finally at 11:50 he calls and says "I don't want to rush you but I am hungry." Heehee. He's a pretty understanding hubby. My ex would have whined if I'd been just a half hour late with food.

Very tired. Glad that Friday is Jean's day, and well, Friday. :) Brain is now quite mush. May play Sims. May sleep. Bye now. Perhaps next time will use bigger sentences again.

Friday Five:

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning? If you didn't have breakfast, why not? Orange juice and a peanut butter sandwich.

2. What's your favorite cereal? Honeycomb's got a big, big taste. It's not small, no, no, no.

3. How often do you eat out? Do you want that to change? Twice a month. No, that's about right for me. Generally around every payday. :) Last night was Fazoli's.

4. What do you plan on having for dinner tonight? Got a recipe for that? Spaghetti (it's Scrabble/laundry night, and Zabet usually makes pasta. It's quick and can be easily made vegetarian. Um...spaghetti, boiling water, and sauce. Pretty easy, huh?

5. What's your favorite restaurant? Why? Aladdin. Mediterranean food, many vegetarian choices, beautiful beaded chandeliers, and very cute waiters--not in that order.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Ah, what a little rest can do...

Last night after I got home I immediately hit the bed and slept until pretty late, then blogged and went back to sleep, got up for a bit, then slept again till noon. If that seems excessive, please keep in mind that personally it has been a week from hell and the shock of the news of the space shuttle tragedy only made it worse.

I wanted to let you know, though, if you're interested, that we made it through our survey. I think we got a 96 out of a 100, which is very good (I called the second shift after I got home from the grocery store on Friday, because I'd had to leave before the announcement). Monday we're having a reception to thank everyone, and my design's supposed to go on the cake. I'm so glad that's over. Three more years till the next one, with "spot" inspections always a possibility after a few months. :)

It's sort of strange that over the last six years I've come to know the medical field culture. All you have to do to make anyone who's worked in healthcare, especially for an institution like a hospital or nursing home, grimace in pain is to say the words "survey", "Joint Commission", or "JCAHO" (pronounced Jay-co). But it really does help places keep on their toes. I mean, we do it voluntarily--it's mainly a requirement in order to continue with Medicare, and we don't bill anyone, but still, there are lots of places that I'm sure would cut lots of corners otherwise. I talked to one librarian (who shall remain nameless, but works in a state facility), whose approach was, "well, I'm supposed to document too, but I haven't done it for six months. But they only look at the last six months, so that's okay). !!!! My performance improvement director just rolled her eyes when I told her that. Despite the fact that for about a year before a survey all the managers want to push her under her paperwork, she really has an easy time motivating our bunch. I can't imagine being out in the for-profit arena or government arena.

So, it's February, and I'd like to say Happy Imbolc, which is the Celtic start of spring, a feast day for the Goddes Bri/d (Bridget), and generally a time to welcome the returning daylight and promise of warm weather. It's traditional to eat dairy products because this is when the lambing and calving begins. I've had string cheese and yogurt today, so I guess that counts. Our traditional food when we get together and celebrate is flaming cheese, which is when you pour vodka over a cheese such as mozzarella and light it. Light's important, too. We usually light candles throughout the house. The Christians absorbed the holiday as Candlemas for this reason. And the looking forward to better weather seems to somehow link with the American Groundhog Day, although I really don't know the particulars of how that came about.

It was 59 degrees today and sunny, the prettiest day we've had in a good long while. There's still a bit of packed snow about, but a lot has gone. We've has snow on the ground for a longer time continually than I can remember in the past. Don't get me wrong--I like snow, but I'm ready for spring, for growing things, for warmth. The other day I could see cardinals singing to their mates, and a big blue heron flew over the road and landed on the outcroppings of the nearby reservoir. I found a young owl that had been struck by a car, and that was sad. But the geese are flying in great v's about. After seeing only a few robins and sparrows, it was nice to see so many different types of birds out and and about. When it was so cold a couple of weeks ago, I think the birds just hid in whatever warm spots they could find. Now I feel like spring might be coming after all. I'm looking forward to the first fish in the creek, the first bee on a dandelion. (Okay, not the first mosquito, but hey, you can't like everything, right?)

Well, I'm going to sign off for now. I'm not sure what the point really to this post was, but there you have it.

Okay, it's a little late, but here's my Friday Five

1. As a child, who was your favorite superhero/heroine? Why?
I liked Spiderman because he was basically a normal human, with all the human problems, with special powers. His special powers only complicated his life--they really didn't make them easier. Same with the hulk as played by Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno. I liked Wonder Woman because she was a strong woman, an Amazon, with really cool things like invisible planes and indestructable bracelets. As an ungraceful child, I desperately wanted grace and poise. Fighting evil doers and maintaining your femininity was the legacy of Wonder Woman.

2. What was one thing you always wanted as a child but never got?
A train set.

3. What's the furthest from home you've been?
Hmm...that's a little difficult, seeing as when I travelled I was home (being a military brat). If you take Kentucky as home, though, the furthest I've been is Vandenberg AFB, California, which is on the West Coast.

4. What's one thing you've always wanted to learn but haven't yet?
Horseback riding. (Yeah, and I live in "the horse capital of the world". I know.

5. What are your plans for the weekend?
Laundry/Scrabble night on Friday. Going over to a friend's on Saturday to make up for the long JCAHO-week of doom when we couldn't get together. Playing Cthulhu.

[Of course, in retrospect, Cthulhu was cancelled due to one of the women needing to go on a buying trip--she's a costumer for a local university theatre programme.]

Where do I begin?

It's strange how in a single moment, seventeen years can be erased. I had spent the day at a friend's, and it wasn't until about 3pm that we turned on the TV and saw the coverage of the Columbia tragedy. I just watched the screen with my mouth open, and started crying. My friend thought I was just reacting like I do when something sad happens on a TV-movie. But it was much more than that. Part of it was the loss of life--the idea of hurtling toward the earth so quickly, with so much heat, and then just breaking up. Or the fact that it was the first time an Israeli had gone into space. Or the fact that it was Columbia, the same ship I watched all those years ago first lift off to usher in a new era of space travel. But in that instant, I was back, at the age of 18, watching the Challenger blow up over and over for nine hours as my boyfriend watched a dream die. My first thought was of him, and how upset he'd be, and even though I've had nothing to do with him for years, and plan never to, my first impulse was to call him, because he would understand.

I grew up at Barksdale AFB, near Shreveport, pretty close to the track of debris that has come down to earth. I can't imagine just walking out and finding small pieces of a space vehicle in a field or yard--or, like recent reports show, a patch or human remains. I'm sure many people are out looking for traces. But it's eerie--such a large area. When I was in seventh grade, I lived on Edwards AFB in California. I never got to see the shuttle land (we moved to Kansas right before it began its spaceflights), but I often saw the vehicle on Boeings or up on a scaffold tower at the base. It was just amazing to look at, as we drove by--you knew it had to be pretty large, yet it seemed like some sort of delicate sea creature clinging to a reef. I guess that was the prototype--Enterprise. Later, when I was in Kansas, I watched the first space shuttle missions with wonder. I had always been drawn to the space programme--one of the first things I remember watching was the Apollo-Soyyuz mission where even during the Cold War it seemed like the thirst to explore space might unite our world. Now it's been the case, with the international space station, etc. When I met him he was studing computer science and planning to join NASA. He had blueprints of the shuttle and had studied as only a true science geek could. When the Challenger exploded, we were at the student centre at the University of Kentucky and some guy came up and asked if we'd heard the news. We thought he was playing some sick joke. Then we found out the truth. We sat and watched numbly in one of the TV rooms for hours. He pointed out the separation of the crew cabin, analysing the film pretty well for a college freshman--his observations were borne out months later when the information was released. But something in him seemed to die that day. He later changed his major to religious studies and gave up his dream as the shuttle programme was grounded and its future uncertain.

I have a friend who is a mechanical engineer that I met years after my divorce. She also wanted to work for NASA, but she was more dedicated to that dream, and did several internships with the agency during her college career. Now she's in California (as far as I know; we keep dropping out of touch) working on the Mars mission for NASA. Tracy, if you read this, I'm so sorry for you and your colleagues. I know NASA is like a big family. And I know that one day you might take a similar leap to space. I hope to see that day. We love you. Take care.

Whenever I'm at work I have a personalised news page, and part of that always comes from Space.com. So I've been keeping up with the mission and some of the experiments it was running. It was unusual because it was an all-science mission. Ironically we'd just passed the anniversaries of Apollo I and Challenger. I don't know what it is--it's like this week is cursed in space travel. But still we reach upward. I guess it exemplifies the best of the quest for space--the spirit of exploration rather than the necessity of defence. Maybe I just watched too much Star Trek as a kid, but I feel it's important that we make that leap to space. I can't ever imagine getting to go myself; I think it'll be a long time before civilians can go up in as routine a manner as airlines, probably after I'm dead. But I want my children and their children to have that opportunity to experience the wonder of watching our planet from orbit and exploring new worlds and possibilities.

That dream is made possible by the work and yes, sacrifice of the people who continue to hurtle into space encapsulated in a bit of aluminum and tile. I was born shortly after the Apollo I fire. When I was a kid, we sent men to the moon (unless you believe the naysayers) with computer with the same amount of memory as my old Atari. It's amazing any of them came back. It's amazing that any of them keep going up. It's the human spirit that keeps it up, of course, our curiosity and courage.

My heart goes out to the families of those who lost loved ones, and to the people of NASA and related agencies and companies. One thing we learned from Challenger is that it was important to go on despite the setbacks, because it is the only way to honour the memory of those who died, and it is a noble effort. I also pray for those in the International Space Station, who endure mind-boggling months of separation from their loved ones. They seem to be okay for supplies, etc. for now. But the tragedy must be weighing on their minds and hearts.

Maybe someone reading this will understand. I mourn for those who died, and those they left behind, but more than anything I mourn a dream, a dream that is not dead but only interrupted, one that will hopefully reach fruition after hard work and many years. And even though I have no real part to play in it, I have a strong connexion to that dream, and so it hurts in a way that doesn't make much rational sense, but a lot nonetheless. And I'm a little angry because I seem to be the only person around me feeling this way. Even when I went online to check the news it had disappeared as a story from my local station's website and my start page, so I had to rely on Space.com and CNN for more info. Maybe I'm just weird for feeling this way; maybe I have to connect to tragedy on a personal level bordering on narcissism. I don't know. But all I can say is I feel a great emptiness and sense of loss and sadness. I hope we'll know more eventually, that they can puzzle it out and prevent future problems. Maybe we need to accept that while missions go on, generally flawlessly, we may have to learn to accept tragedy every 15-20 years as a part of the struggle upward. I don't know. But right now I just feel confused and angry and grief.

Well, that's all I feel like saying right now. It feels better to write about it. Peace to you and yours.