Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Failure stinks

It is tough to be a failure. Especially at something so simple – like bleeding.

I went to donate blood this morning. Filled out the forms and passed the finger prick test. They were busy in the Bloodmobile but I had an appointment so I got to go ahead of others. The nurse got all the gear assembled and then hooked me up. I felt a pinch that didn’t go away when she taped the tubes to my arm. She had me squeeze a squishy ball every few seconds.

She came back and adjusted things again. Still feeling the pinching where the needle was. She looked at the bag and said that it wasn’t filling up. She adjusted again and told me not to squeeze the squishy ball so hard. She went off to do intake on a new person and then waved to get the attention of another nurse and pointed at my bag. He adjusted my tubes again and said something about her not setting it right the first time.

More waiting. More adjusting. More comments about my squishy ball squeezing performance.

Then I just ran out of time. Apparently there is a time limit. I didn't make it. As she and the other nurse were looking at my pathetic bag of blood, she asked me if I had any fluids in the last day. Huh? Do they really ask this? Are there people out there who do not drink liquids every day? I told her I am always drinking water.

And to myself I thought, "Sure. That's what it is. My blood must be the consistency of cake batter and can't make it through your little tubes because I didn't have a glass of water this morning. I'm sure that's it. It couldn't possibly be because you did a crappy job putting the needle in my vein."

Unfortunately, they couldn't even use the blood that they did get. Had to throw the whole thing away. My attempt at giving was a giant waste of supplies and everyone's time. I asked if I could donate again in less than 8 weeks, since they hadn't sucked so much blood out. They said no - I still have to wait 8 weeks.

It wasn't a total waste. I was able to sign up for the National Marrow Donor Registry.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Mr. Excitement

At work I emailed someone with an address to use in case they needed to send something by FedEx. This was his exact reply:

Ok!! Got it!! I’ll make it known to the Lender as well. Thank you for the clarification!!

Dude. Time to lay off the caffeine?

Or maybe he has some form of Keyboard Tourette's Syndrome and can't help but hit the exclamation point.

I'm going to email him a phone number change and see what happens.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A better day

A better day in the Twilight Zone - and a worse one.

The better:
Again some older siblings came to visit the younger ones. This time they were given a choice to watch a movie or go play or read in the younger kids' rooms. They all chose to go off and play. The 6-year-old's sister got to read him his bedtime story. YES!!!!! That's what I'm talking about, people!

The worse:
Reading a bedtime story to a 4-year-old. It's an alphabet book with fruits and vegetables. When he sees apples he says, "I like those at my house." When he sees oranges he says, "I like those at my house." Then he says, "My Mommy wants me at my house" and starts to cry. He is standing beside his bed and I open my arms and ask him if he wants a hug. He says no, gets into the bed, puts the covers over himself, turns his back to me and continues to cry. I put my hand on his back and tell him that I know he is sad and I'm sorry. He cries and I sit with him like that and rub his back. He eventually stops crying and turns back around to face me. He wants to keep reading the book so we do. Then I say goodnight and leave him with one of the staff.

It was really hard for me not to start bawling right along with him.

I might eventually stop writing about this because I have a feeling it is going to be just more of the same. Many more sad, scared, confused children asking for their mommies. There is definitely going to be a limit on how many times I can tell that same story.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just What the Hell is Going on Here

This place where I volunteer - sometimes it is like a Twilight Zone episode. Such odd things can occur. Things that just don't make sense to me. I have to accept the fact that I am not in charge. That I can't make all the changes that I would like to see. I might be able to influence things a little, but I am not there often enough to even know the whole story most of the time.

The joyful part:

The 6-year-old from last week is still there. He hugged me and said he missed me. I got to stay until they went to bed and read him two books in his room before saying goodnight. I didn't expect him to still be there. The more I see him, the harder it is going to be when I show up one day and he's gone. I hope he is there when I go back on Friday.

The strange parts:

There were just three kids in the section today. Four staff members and me. What a great opportunity to give the kids some one-on-one time. Nah. Let's just sit them all on the couch and watch a movie.

And here is a great example of how I can be quick to judge, but maybe I don't have the whole story. Maybe the three kids had a day chock full of great one-on-one attention from the staff. When I first arrived, two of them were helping one of the older ones with his homework. Maybe they had an enormously stimulating day and the passive activity of watching a movie was really what the kids needed. I might not have enough information to make that call.

I start to read books with the 6-year-old in the same room that the movie is playing. It's like a living room area where they have big couches. We are reading and pausing because he is getting distracted by the movie at times. But we are still interacting. Then one of the staff says, "Okay, no more reading. We are watching the movie now." Really? I can't read with the kid?!?!

[I start to hear the Twilight Zone music. Do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do.]

So I think, okay, I'm still with him and he's snuggling a little next to me and that is a part of what he might need too - some physical closeness with a caring adult. We can watch Will Smith as a cartoon fish doing silly cartoon fish things.

Then a staff person from another section brings in the sister of the 6-year-old and the two sisters of the 2-year-old to visit. These are older kids who stay in a different section. Time to stop the movie so these siblings can have some quality time together? Of course not!

[Do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do.]

They let the siblings sit next to each other on the couch and continue to watch the movie. The 6-year-old gets shushed by his older sister when he tries to talk to her because she's aware that, at the moment, they are expected to sit quietly and watch the movie. The 2-year-old is clearly happy to see his sisters but they also look like they feel they have to watch the movie and don't really get to give him much attention.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?!? WHO THE BLEEP IS RUNNING THIS PLACE?!?!?!? Why are we not shutting off the movie and encouraging the older siblings to talk and interact with their brothers? Isn't that simply good common sense? I am convinced that at least two of the staff were enjoying the movie too much and didn't want to shut it off. Reminds me a little of the first time I volunteered there. It seems like they are used to doing what they need to do to get through the day and not really thinking too hard about the emotional needs of the children.

I haven't been doing this very long but I hope that as I get more comfortable there and the staff gets more comfortable with me, that I'll be able to influence things in a different direction when I see these odd things. For now I am just trying to focus on being there for the kids.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How many kittens does it take to get the Cheney stink out of the room?

This was Sunday mornings blog entry. But I didn't want to spend the day getting all steamed up while I tried to finish it because Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest and peace. So I finished it up later in the week.


Sunday morning:

I was having a hard time waking up this morning. I was physically out of bed, reading news on the computer but my brain was only half awake. Then I saw this:

Cheney: Obama detainee policies make US less safe

Cheney: Don't blame Bush team for economic woes

Nothing like seeing something that makes your blood boil first thing in the morning to wake you right up!

I'll try to keep the profanity to a minimum, but I can't promise to control myself when a man who has had quite an enormous role in getting this country to EXACTLY where we are today will not just SHUT HIS #$%^&#$ MOUTH and crawl back into whatever hole he usually lurks in, so the people who now have the responsibility to pick up the pieces from the DISASTER that he and his pals left of this country, can do the work that is needed to be done.

Okay, Mr. Cheney, just keep telling yourself that you and your administration did everything right and that everyone else is wrong.

That the Iraq War went just as planned and when the whole shaky "democracy" that we've built there collapses in on itself, that it will be the new administration's fault.

That the illegal and repulsive torture which was done in America's name did NOT create more terrorists around the world who hate us.

That holding prisoners for over 7 years without charging them with any crime or bringing them to justice was a outstanding example of America's highest ideals and values, not a shameful abuse of power.

That lining the pockets of contractors like your Haliburton buddies with no-bid contracts and laughable oversight is just good fiscal practice.

Just keep TELLING YOURSELF these things if that's what gets you through the day. But STOP TELLING US ANYTHING. You had your time. Now is the time to sit back, shut your %$@&*% mouth and let other people try to rebuild the wreckage that you have left behind.


Glenn Greenwald Column on the subject

And now to try to counteract the bad mojo that I just released on this blog, let's all take a moment and look at some cute kitties.

Ahhhh... now doesn't that feel better?

Monday, March 16, 2009

No more poo

I just read some information online about how to stop using shampoo on your hair. Forever. You use baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead.

Why my family is going 'no poo'

A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo

I am DEFINITELY going to try it.

Hey sisters - I DARE YOU TO TRY IT!

(Okay, brother too. I dare YOU to try it too.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

volunteer time

I volunteered after work today.

Little boy with the bright smile gets sad when I have to leave. He is about 5 or 6. We read books. He made me read Dr. Seuss at lightning speed and laughed all the way through.

They had just transitioned from the playroom to snack time, so it was a good moment for me to leave. I told him I was going. He gets a sad look on his face and says, "Why do you have to goooo?" I said that I have to go home and eat dinner. He said, "Are you coming back?" I said I would come tomorrow (and I will.) He said, "When? Early?" I said it would be later in the day. He was still sad when I said goodnight and left.

And it made me really wonder - is it a good thing for these kids for me to come, play with them for a little while, give them some loving attention and then leave?

They have just been yanked out of their homes and their world probably feels chaotic and scary. They have staff people rotating in and out of their lives every day as each shift changes. They watch other children come and go - the new kid today could be gone tomorrow. The are kept safe and clean and fed, but nothing in their lives is stable or predictable.

So am I just another unstable element in their lives? I show up for a few hours a week, play with them and always leave. And I can't usually promise that I'll be back the next day.

I have to tell myself that it does benefit the kids or I wouldn't be able to do it. The staff people have to focus a lot of their energy on running the place and they can't always give their full attention to being with the children. I can play with them, talk to them and just be with them. They can have my full attention while I am there.

I have to believe that any small, kind gesture - a hug, telling them that they did a good job, reading books together - can have a positive impact. I can't change their lives or fix their difficult situations. I can only offer brief moments of kindness and love - and hope that it will bring some small measure of peace into their unsettled lives.

The next day

I went back after work the next day. The 6-year-old was still there and he ran up to me to give me a hug as soon as he saw me. I just want to fold him up, put him in my pocket and take him home.

Later in the evening his older sister came over to say goodnight. She is staying in one of the other sections with kids her age. I am so happy to know that he has an older sister in his life. So relieved that he is not going through this completely on his own.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What you see is not what you get

String Bean Chicken.

Look at it. Doesn't it look good? It is on their healthy eating menu too. Big chunks of tender chicken breast. Fresh-cut string beans looking so fresh and crunchy. And even big slices of onion simmered in their garlic ginger soy sauce.

Look at what you really get.

Oh, the bitter, bitter disappointment . . . that is now in my stomach.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

this little weed

This little weed. Reaching out
from a crack in the concrete.

Look what it has done -

found life on barely a sliver of earth.

I just can't bring myself to pull it out.

How could I?