Monday, August 22, 2011

In the entirety of my senior-year high school yearbook there are only two pictures where I'm not staring sullen and angry at the camera.
I am acting in one and asleep in the other.

High school seems light-years away.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

hello words.

Epiphany is a strong word, and one of my favorites comes from the author James Joyce at the conclusion  of his story The Dead.

Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world which these dead had at one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling.
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, falling softly into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
Beautifully penned, Joyce captures as only he can the epiphany of Gabriel's character that he had truly loved a woman.
While not as perfectly captured or deftly worded, (we mortals are afforded generous allowances James Joyce had no need of) one of my favorite cousins introduced me to an epiphany the other day when I least expected it.

"So Kenny, you like this punk-rock music, huh?" It was a more than fair question I posed to my cousin. Weird Al's music blared from his small phone voraciously, but Kenny paid it little heed as he smiled and seamlessly shot down my cynically-posed observation.
"No. No, I--I just like songs that parody already lame music.
I laughed, and we turned right onto Holly Street. It was time to pick the wife up from work.
"So you just like the words, that they make fun of all regular "lame" songs?"
"Pretty much."

The town we live in isn't by any means large, and soon we were all at home. Seated around the table again, back right where we left off at our game.
"Oh, music." I hopped out of my recliner-turned-dining room-seat (our living room is pieced together as only newly weds can) and hit the spacebar. Immediately our living room was filled with the crisp melody of Metric, an indie-style music selection that is great for ambient background sound.
The minutes passed by as us cousins dove back into the card game spread liberally across our table.
"No, the Moneylender doesn't do that. You have to pick up the other card. Next to it. That one."
"Can you hand me a Cellar? Thank you."
"I just playedit's your turn."
"Everyone check your hand. See, it's a Militia. Discard down to three cards in your hand unless you have a Moat."

Then in the midst of the excited hubbub my introspective cousin voiced his opinion to no one in particular.
"Did that--did that song just--just. Did--that song just say "they're gonna eat me alive?" Because that's stupider than all Weird Al's songs. He's not being serious. They are."
I paused. Yes, that was the line to the song. But it was indie music. By definition they are classified as eclectic and original. Most of their lyrics are abstract and don't make sense. But to my cousin who takes many, many things at face value and very literally, this was not overlooked. The line they had chosen to write was strange, foreign and out of place. 

A senior in high school and one of the most socially practical individuals I've ever met in my life, Kenny's introspect reminded me of something I can honestly say I've missed in the last multiple thousands of hours of my music listening.
Words matter.
Whether they're acknowledged or not. Paid attention to or ignored. True tale telling or made up story to entertain. Vicious or light-hearted. Poetic or not, they always matter.
My music library includes just over 36 days of music.
I am not a "purist" and do not believe that Christians should listen to "only Christian music."
Included in my collection that I've built over the last ten years is 12 hours of classical music, 5 hours of Disney songs,  6 days of film soundtracks, 17 days of rock/metal music, 2 days of worship songs, and my most listened to artist is by no surprise of the imagination Sigur Ros, an Icelandic band I've discovered to be appropriate for almost every occasion.

Not take the idea of words and music in my teeth and dive for the bottom of the swamp, but in all of my appreciation for music itself I'd almost forgotten there were words involved.
Thanks brother-cousin Ken, for helping me see that for the first time again.

From Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man.

"A day of dappled seaborne clouds.
The phrase and the day and the scene harmonised in a chord. Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves, the grey fringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world through the prism of a language many coloured and richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose?" 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

recognizing change

Shock can best be defined as a condition in which tissue perfusion is inadequate to deliver oxygen and nutrients to support vital organs and cellular function (Hameed, Aird, & Cohn, 2003). 
Without treatment, inadequate blood flow to the tissues results in poor delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells, cellular starvation, cell death, organ dysfunction progressing to organ failure, and eventual death.

Shock affects all body systems. It may develop rapidly or slowly, depending on the underlying cause. During shock, the body struggles to survive, calling on all it's homeostatic mechanisms to restore blood flow. Any insult to the body can create a cascade of events resulting in poor tissue perfusion. Therefore, almost any patient with any disease state may be at risk for developing shock.
Nursing care of patients with shock requires ongoing systematic assessment.

My Dad has told me many times that during change of any significance in a person's life it is important to acknowledge and grieve the loss that occurs there. This allows you can move forward towards the positive aspects of that change.
In the past few years I have come to really appreciate the truth in that statement and grown to realize how important it is for me to do that. I am someone who is built to take on conflict, issues, change, all of it, head on. More often than not I barrel forward in life paying little/no attention to where I'm at and focusing entirely on what's ahead. What I need to conquer. What problem needs to be solved. What change needs to happen that I can make happen. How I/we can get there as quickly and smoothly as possible.
When I read the above excerpts from my Textbook of Medical/Surgical Nursing it was astonishing to me how much shock (as it's defined in the medical field) can parallel shock as it relates to what can happen when someone experiences a crisis, a tragedy, or even just a major change in their life.

The paragraph I copied from the text concludes with a simple one-sentence summary of the nurse's care role for a patient who is in shock.
Ongoing systematic assessment. Both during and after the period in which a patient is in shock it is important to understand as closely as possible what stage they're in so that the nurse and the entire care team can best know how to help them at any given moment. While that is by no means all that a nurse does when a patient goes into shock, regardless of the type of shock (hypovolemic, cardiogenic, septic, neurogenic or anaphylactic) a patient enters into the text highlights that the main role of the nurse in that situation is to continually assess their condition.
Looking forward I see the value in checking in with others and myself often during times of important change, whatever it may be, to best know how I can serve or be served as processing through the change happens.

Hebrews 10:24 "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works"

Monday, August 8, 2011

our friend gravity.

Looking back on my childhood depending on what I'm remembering, I smile. Other times I drop the iPod and think to myself "how on earth were we allowed to do THAT?"
When I was 11, my older sister was 13 and rapidly losing interest in such things, and my younger brother was almost 9, my Dad took us out to the garage (where there was an abundant supply of dead fowl, namely chinese and mourning doves to be found, a la cat) opened up the garage door, and said "let's make a gravity cart.
Accurately named as it had no motor and consequently no "Go" to it, we were homeschooled. We called things as we saw them, as they should be, and never referred to them as culture had so arbitrarily. And so we were never "teenagers" we were "young adults." We said "yes Mother" and "yes Father" not "yeah" "okay" or "whatever." Well, sometimes we said those too. 
Instead of rebellion taking on the form of illicit and underage consumption of shadily acquired alcohol, sneaking out of bedroom windows, or driving prior to licensing (well, maybe one or all of the above did in fact occur) it was more centered around the answering of the phone in varying ways other than the instructed "Hello the Eldridges, this is (child's name), may I ask who's calling please?"
You might think it counter-intuitive to teach a child that greeting when they were too young to understand the sentence itself. More than once it led the caller directly into a decidedly one-way conversation with a very small, blank-faced individual wearing only a diaper and barely able to reach up and touch the counter on which the phone. We uttered that greeting many times a day regardless of our age and most of the world loved it.
Save for Mrs. Lueders, who everytime she called would laugh and ignore the out-of-place formality. "Can I talk to your Mom?"
"Yes, one moment please."
What began as acquiescing to parental requests and therefore easily excusing ourselves from disobedience and a loving correctional spank rapidly became habit, and soon it was carried out into our teen and tween years when we were far, far above the threat of any seat-based path adjustment and just how we answered the phone.

Out of earshot from the "house phone" and not necessarily far away from the "walkaround phone" as no one really ever knew where it was -- just who had it last -- we had rapidly changed into pre-paint-stained shirts and shorts and were now Outside Working With Dad.
That phrase is capitalized because it does not belong with any other phrase. When you were working with Dad you were not thinking about what you'd be doing Sunday after church. You weren't sitting around watching someone else work, and you definitely were not in the house on the computer. You were working with Dad, and until the job was done that was where you were. Hustling, asking for something to do if what you'd done was in fact, done, wearing safety glasses far to big for your young face, and hustling some more.
"Grab the other end of that board over there."
"Hand me that nail."
"Here, you finish that post base." 
Occasionally through small text snuck in the last moment of pre-work bartering one might arrange a devious way of scooting out early on the tasks to be completed. Among approved excuses were:
"I have soccer practice"
"I have to help Mom make dinner"
"I'm going over to the Smythes to babysit"
"I still have math homework from yesterday"
"I'm a neighbor kid and I have to go home now." While this one worked on others more often than not, no matter how many times I tried I always had to fall back on "I still have math homework from yesterday" which rarely netted me any better results. I always had leftover math homework. I'm going to be 24 this year and I guarantee you somewhere in my Mom's Microsoft Works '97 documents folder is a piece of yet-to-be-printed paper that requires me to do 35 more lessons.
But this was different than all that; this was a Saturday-afternoon project with imminent joy awaiting us.
There was a tangible excitement in the air -- something you could taste, feel and salivate over. I think it was the future and in it was a vehicle for us to ride, crash and drive again all on our very own. Wherever we liked. At speeds of our choosing. 
And that scares me to remember, because we did. 

Several hours, banged fingers and brake-adjustments later ("the paper doesn't have it right, we need to change the system around, that wouldn't stop you") there it was. 
Dad was under no false impressions as to how this four-wheeled miniature horse would be treated. He had built the seat on the gravity cart so that three children could sit in it comfortably together, not uncomfortably. But he knew that it would be minutes before the goal would be for any and all interested parties to ride together with an "older" kid steering.
And so we rode. 
The helmets stayed on while Mom and Dad were within eyeshot, then were chucked into the neighbor's 700' tall hedge where they would remain until dusk when we knew every minute was a gamble as it got closer and closer to "dark" or "curfew." When Mom stepped outside to yell "ELDRIDGE CHILDREN" at the top of her lungs, we had only a minute or two to make it to the house, there was no reason to take longer. We spent all summer afternoon running around at top speed, why slow then? There was dinner and tall, cold glasses of ice water waiting.
The hills we rode on were on either side of our valley at the end of our street.
One was affectionately named "Witch Hill" and the other "Suicide Hill."
Strangely enough, the hill we went up the most often was "Suicide Hill." We did so because it was "better" and you could definitely go faster. At the bottom of the incredibly steep "Witch Hill" the road below ran perpendicular, making it impossible to turn and continue joy-riding without either running into   the creek (which lay at the bottom of a ditch with boulders on either side) or flipping over the (bike, gravity cart, roller blades, skateboard, wagon...). 
When I look back and remember how much fun it was to ride the gravity cart, how awesome the neighbor kids with Xboxes and cable tv thought we were, and how many times we would continue riding after scraping up toes, knees, shins, elbows, faces and arms, I am astonished that neither witch nor suicide hill claimed our little danger-vaccinated lives.
Especially when ideas like:
"Let's try five kids at a time!"
"Gravity cart ramp!"
"Now let's see who can do it with no brakes for the longest!"
"Put a chair on the seat so you can sit up higher!"
"We don't need anyone at the bottom to yell car this time, just hop on" nearly killed us. It wasn't any of the three singularly, but a combination of the last three when the gravity cart hit a neighbor's SUV while they were driving up the hill that nearly ended my risk-riddled life.
Mom and Dad never found out because, as we explained to each other as we walked the gravity cart shakily back that waning dusk, "those are the neighbors that don't talk to anyone. They just watch tv all day and won't even wave back even though we wave every time. They probably don't even know where we live so there's no way we'll get in trouble."
Thank God they didn't, because we didn't. But we did use the brake at least a little bit from then on, it wasn't THAT uncool anymore.

Our second model that came out several years after.