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Archive for April, 2010

Earlier this month, I included a blog flyer for Fresh Art Photography’s “Shoot for Seamus” promotion.

Wednesday, Jodie e-mailed those of us who had been following her blog long enough to remember the original post about Seamus and his parents. She noted that it has been one year since his birth and death, and asked us to create a small original remembrance featuring a shamrock. Jodie was making a blog remembrance to show Seamus’s parents that the world would not forget, and to help raise awareness for the St. Louis NICU.

I had the idea of asking the best graffiti artist of my students (who designed and executed amazing posters for our production of _A Midsummer Night’s Dream_) to create a stylized shamrock. Around it, I had various students write “remember” in all the languages spoken by students at my school.

The kids did a great job, taking their time to print as well as they could. Jodie included it in a beautiful photo essay about the Johnston’s, including heart-breakingly evocative photos of the family in the two days of Seamus’s life.

I encourage you to go read about the Johnstons, as well as to see Jodie’s own perspective–I really enjoyed hearing her tell the story of her experience alongside the photos she chose to capture those two days.

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On my nerves

I got a nerve test for my dead leg today.  For the past year, my upper thigh has been numb: I can’t feel anything on the surface at all. I think it might be related to my fall, when I broke my ankle.  Just as I started to get it investigated last year, my insurance ended.  New insurance a few months ago, so now I’m back on track with the doctors.

I never know how to explain how it feels after undergoing a minor medical thing. Last week, I started having PT on my lower back.  One piece of what they do: they hook up little electrodes (I _think_–I can’t see from my perspective, lying face down) to four areas on my back, and then rev up some machine for ten minutes.  Rev, rev, rev: brrr, brrr, brrr.  That’s a bit like what it sounds like. But it feels like I’m “hearing” it from the inside.

I had never felt anything like the electro-therapy before. Here is what it most feels like.  Or: the best way I can describe it, in words.  Remember old typewriters– before the electric ones?  Remember how you could press down ten or so keys at once, and all of the letter-stems next to the paper would clump together, sticky, up by the ribbon?  You’d have to pick them apart, and let them fall gently back down into their slots.

Think of the texture of the tiny surfaces of those keys. Did you ever touch them, with a curious finger, and stamp a bit of backwards ink on your fingertip pad?

I felt like, in each section of my back, a cluster of six typewriter key-stems was pushing down, and brrr-ing, into my skin, ever so slightly, with electricity.  Brrr, brrr, brrr: I could feel the key clumps pressing their metal faces into my back, in an electric rhythm.

Earlier this evening, I had a nerve test. The technician glued cold little discs onto three or four parts of my feet, and then ankles. Then, he used a mildly frightening looking contraption–like a corded remote control with two metal nubbins. I think the technician put some sort of fluid on the nubbins occasionally.

It was pretty immediately horrible. It hurt. And it was surprising. At first (at the lower volts–if “volt” is the right word), it felt like when a doctor hits your knee with her little hammer.  That kind of pleasing funny sensation where your leg kicks out automatically.  It felt like that, on a specific portion of my ankle or foot–predicated by the position of the discs–but also with a shock.

Then, it got worse–it turns out that the tech was increasing the intensity, and it was so intense that I gasped aloud and my foot involuntarily shook up.  The pain, combined with the uncertainty, made me want to cry.

After a few minutes, I discovered that if I turned my head, I could see the computer screen. This helped. First, I could see the number attached to the intensity of the shock I was feeling/about to feel.  Below 20 was like a tingle, up in the 60s was going to hurt, 100 was going to make me gasp.  I found that seeing the number gave me at least the (false?) sense of security that I knew what was happening. Also, the computer screen made an instant line graph with every jolt, so I could “see” what I was feeling, in a sense.   I found that it hurt less, somehow, to see what was happening.

And then, suddenly, it was over. The tech hung up the remote control and began typing at the computer. I sat up and put my shoes on. He printed some things out and said I could leave.

On the bus ride home, my legs and feet felt tingly: it felt like the shadow of my legs having been asleep.  I also felt jumpy. I still felt teary, and nervous– I think I still felt nervous because I had come close to veering into a panic attack during the test.

The bus took me through a strip of parkway. The trees here are in that half-way point, between full white blossom and new green leaf.  The half-way point looks fuller than just green, the trees look fluffier with the roundness of the leftover blossoms. It was turning to rain at this point in the evening, so the sky had that grey-green color.

I remembered suddenly about Nabokov, and the lightening strike. Was he struck, as a child?  Was it his mother, or his nanny?  What was that story?  People were out in the park: old men in black playing checkers, women with shopping carts on the benches, feeding birds, and little kids on bikes. I saw a family of three– a boy on a blanket, the mom chasing a toddler with a ball, between the blossomed trees. In that dark green light, the Nabokov memory surfaced like soap up through the bath.

It was really feeling like rain on the final leg home. I was super-aware of tingling, of numbness, and the air smelled like ozone–a storm either on the way, or another memory of electricity.

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We were traipsing through the Harvard campus last week when we spied this tiny bit of guerilla art.  Note the wee bell next to the door.

I’m reminded of a recent local story, where people were making knitted scarf-type accoutrements for trees in Cape May, NJ. “Rogue knitters,” this paper calls them.

(Photo from linked news story)

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Western mass

I always forget how much I love my friends.  I’m not a big telephone person, and get into routines of work, and writing, and work, where I forget that we can hop on a train, or bus, or rent a car, and be with people we love.

Last week, we went up to Boston for a day and night, to hang out with Jodut.  Oh, there’s a whole post I need to write about the wedding-cake-making endeavor. Last time I was there, I was so busy making her practice cake, that I didn’t really get to visit.  I wanted to just putter with her.  Matt made his home-made enchiladas for dinner, we gossiped and caught up and watched _An Education_, and then slept in. Matt then made his home-made everything bagels, and then we walked to Harvard and around and about the river, and saw Pooh’s entrance (photo soon) and wendered our way home.

Actually, we wendered our way to Western MA, to stay with my brother- and sister-in-law, and niece for a few days. While there, Tom and his girlfriend came up to hang out with us.  We visited the Book Mill, I got sunburnt on the first real sunny day of the year, and we marveled at tasty food, remembering old students, and future plans.

I re-fell in love with my niece, Matt and I talked into each night with Andrew and Lynette, and we grilled out twice in a row.  Why are red peppers on the grill so, so delicious?  I was eating them like candy.

I love walking around at no pace at all, with good people, and hearing three conversations at once. I love revisiting old and favorite connections, and sharing things. “You have to read this!” “Here, _taste_ this!” “We have to go there again!”

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