Monthly Archives: October 2005

This May Feel Cold

Thumbnail: Holter monitor

I’m lying down, naked from the waist up, gig­gling uncon­trol­lably. The nurse damp­ens some tis­sue with rub­bing alco­hol, and rubs down my tor­so method­i­cal­ly. I feel it evap­o­rat­ing off my skin, star­ing at the ceil­ing, unsure of any­where else I could appro­pri­ate­ly keep my eyes. Suddenly, there’s a sharply drag­ging pain on a small area, and I see her mak­ing quick, short arm move­ments in one direc­tion.

Ow, what is that?”, I ask jovial­ly. I’m still gig­gling, a result of my ner­vous­ness. She picks up on this.

It’s sand­pa­per. Haven’t you ever been exfo­li­at­ed?”

The sand­pa­per removes the dead skin, mak­ing the elec­trodes stick bet­ter.

Are you telling me that this is going to make my chest glow, and reduce the appear­ance of any lines and wrin­kles?”

She play­ful­ly returns, “On these five spots, yes.”

Afterwards, I’m told to sign a form with a short expla­na­tion on what is being done, that acknowl­edges my under­stand­ing.

Holter mon­i­tor­ing pro­vides a con­tin­u­ous record­ing of heart rhythm dur­ing nor­mal activ­i­ty. There is no dis­com­fort asso­ci­at­ed with the test.

I’m giv­en a jour­nal to record any abnor­mal heart­beats, whether it’s a skipped beat, an extra beat, or an irreg­u­lar beat, but for the 24 hours that I’m wear­ing this device, I don’t write in it once. It’s a guess­ing game for them, to sort out the what’s nor­mal and what’s not. After any test they do, urine, blood, stool, holter, they say the same thing: we’ll call you if any­thing shows up in the results.

They always say, no news is good news.

Just One Thing

It’s been a long week, although it was tech­ni­cal­ly made short­er from the long week­end. Three can­cel­la­tions in three nights. Nothing’s work­ing out. I left work ear­ly yes­ter­day because my eyes stopped func­tion­ing. The pre­vi­ous day I’d worked a full 14 hours.

I used to get angry or frus­trat­ed at things like this, but now I find myself cold and emo­tion­less, accept­ing things as the way they are. The advan­tage is that I’m a much more sta­ble per­son. It isn’t even any attempt to be sto­ic, but I’m sick of all the bull­shit.

All I want is a break, just one thing to go my way.


Growing Pains

Thumbnail: Dry bacon

I caught my father after a show­er. How for­mal the word, father. Like address­ing a char­ac­ter in some Elizabethan play. His hair was mussed, wild, even thin­ner than before. He’s been going gray since he was 15, and every cou­ple of months he colours it black again. It works for him, tak­ing at least ten years off his age. People don’t real­ly know how old he is until he tells them that I’m in my twen­ties.

How scary it was to see him like this, like some crazy old fool with all his hair point­ing out­ward and uncom­posed, but still know­ing that he was still my sta­ble, strong, cold father. The thought that he may one day go senile, lose the viril­i­ty that he seems so des­per­ate to cling to, filled me with pity.

The bacon they serve me for break­fast is dry, dull, devoid of soft fat, or grease that pools in the waves of each strip. A result of his heart con­di­tion. No more cheese, red meat only once a week.

Thumbnail: Wrinkled hand

Even my moth­ers’ del­i­cate hands have deeply with­ered, though they remain soft from her atten­tive care, which include vary­ing sorts of design­er hand creams and spe­cial­ized lotions that fol­low her every­where. My par­ents have long stopped wear­ing their wed­dings bands, but she wears one of my grand­moth­ers rings, a beau­ti­ful old-fash­ioned cut on a clamp mount, left to her in the will. I remem­ber my grand­moth­er pinch­ing my cheeks, hold­ing my hand, her skin loose but, like mom, sup­ple as a soft­ened chamois.

I see this ring on my moth­er, and real­ize that she’s get­ting old­er too.

Elementary School

Thumbnail: School crossing sign

Thumbnail: Four-square tiles

Thumbnail: Rusty tetherball pole

Thumbnail: School portable

This was my ele­men­tary school. The Catholic insti­tu­tion I attend­ed dur­ing the first few years of mov­ing here. Where I used to offer best-friend sta­tus for a mouth­ful of Big League Chew. Old, famil­iar four-square courts are still paint­ed on, unmoved. The T‑ball poles are rust­ed out and miss­ing their teth­ers. Countless feet jump­ing, run­ning, skip­ping dur­ing recess have caused the pave­ment to warp and crack. Even the old porta­bles are any­thing but, their famil­iar beige tones still inhab­it­ing the back of the school, built out of con­crete and plas­tic foam when the town was bud­ding, and the class­rooms could­n’t han­dle all the stu­dents. Walking up the wood­en stairs, I bet they even have the same groan­ing creaks.

Continue read­ing “Elementary School”…

Weekend By Bus

Thumbnail: Greyhound station

Leaving by bus, in the rain and in the dark, is some­thing spe­cial.

The per­fect album to put on is Ágætis Byrjun by Sigur Rós, with songs like Starálfur and Olsen Olsen, but espe­cial­ly Sven-G-Englar and Ný Batteri. Sounds are dis­tract­ing all around with the peo­ple talk­ing, the bat­ter­ing of rain­drops on the wind­shield, the thud-thump of the uneven high­way road, but they grad­u­al­ly fade to a lethar­gic pulse. The unrec­og­niz­able tim­bres of each dis­tin­guish­able instru­ment take over.

This is the moment. The exact pur­pose of the song. The notes are pure, amor­phous colours in the dark­ness, a dul­cet damper for the out­side world.

Soon the rhythm of the pass­ing city lights will become more and more sparse, and all that will be left in the win­dows are the reflec­tions of those with their over­head lights on, read­ing books or keep­ing eye-con­tact.

It’s been ten months since the last time you did this.

How has so much hap­pened since then?