Monday, January 25, 2010

I've been 10,000 miles in the mouth of a graveyard.

Finallly getting around to watching Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. It's a Netflix movie, and I've had it for almost two months. I don't like war movies; they bring back too many memories of my dad. When I was a kid, he would tell me all about his time in Vietnam. They weren't really the sort of things you should tell a kid but, young as I was, I understood that he needed to talk about it. An alcoholic, he once told me, "I drink to keep the nightmares away." I must've been 11 or 12 years old. I responded that I'd read somewhere that if you don't dream, you go crazy. "I know," he said, and when he reached for his pack of Benson & Hedges, I could see that his hands were shaking.

Documentaries are the worst, and that's what Dear America is. Actors reading letters from soldiers, while video clips from the war are playing. I've been crying a lot while watching this, as I expected to. I don't want to watch this, but I feel I have to. I feel that I owe it to my father to hear these letters and see the video and know (a little bit of) what it was like for him over there. I keep his medal in my desk drawer. My sister has the American flag from his funeral, still military folded, in a special case, hung on the wall of her office. The first painting I ever bought was Lee Teter's Reflections. It hangs on the wall above the front hall closet, and is one of the first things you see when you step through the front door.

My dad's best friend was killed right next to him. Somehow, none of the bullets struck my father. There is more to the story, but I don't have the heart to tell it. My dad was a hero that day, but he never thought of himself that way. He was quiet in everything he did, including his death.

The year of his death, 1990, the folks from Dignity Memorial created a three-quarter-scale traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. It must have been several months before his death, because I remember it coming to Chicago, and I remember standing there with my dad, helping him look for his friend, Don Gene Stallard. 17 years later, the Wall came to Portland, Oregon. Fittingly, on Memorial Day. My mom, sister and I went. We found Stallard's name again and made rubbings. We also found the names of the servicemen whose POW/MIA bracelets we wore.

Memory against forgetting

Stallard Wall

For Christmas, my dad and his friends drove through the villages and gave potatoes to the children there. He had a dog in Vietnam. Just a little mutt running around his camp. He didn't see him for a day or two, and one night at dinner he asked if anyone had seen the dog. The cook told him that he'd killed the dog and that is what they were eating. My dad got up and beat the shit out of him. Because he had dirt on a commanding officer, my dad was able come home from Vietnam with his uniform and two rifles. He kept them in cases above the wardrobe in our basement.

When he came home from Vietnam, there was no one there to greet him. My mother, his family, but there was no fanfare. Nobody to say "Thank you for what you've done." It haunted him for the rest of his life. He never understood that the protesters were against the war, not the soldiers.

"I would rather to have had you for twenty-one years and all the pain that goes with losing you, than never to have had you at all."
May 13th will mark the 20th anniversary of my father's death. I have not been home, or seen his grave in almost ten years.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist.

As part of my job at the lab, I work with tissue. Organs. Tumors. Horse fetuses. Sometimes brains with the eyeballs still attached. And sometimes? Legs. Take last night, for instance. My coworker was complaining about how many histos she'd had to do the night before. It being my turn last night, I patted her on the shoulder and said, "Cheer up. The night is young. Maybe somebody'll bring in a leg."

Sure enough, I was slaving away at my station when D, our crazy Romanian driver, walked over and said, "Ketty, look at dees!" and started waving a two foot leg around like a baseball bat. I turned to my coworker and said, "See? Things are looking up already."

Curious as to what sort of creature used to be attached the leg, I scurried over to take a peek at the req form, and was surprised (and delighted) to see the species listed as "rat."

"Holy shit," I thought. "R.O.U.S.'s do exist!"

My hands crept over to the leg and started squeezing it gently, like a long, slightly rigid and in no way sterile roll of Charmin. Then I started reading the patient history and saw that the species was listed as "rat," but it was actually a wallaby named Wally. For those of you who don't know what a wallaby is: I suggest you eat a bowl of hair, because you are a dummy.

They're like tiny kangaroos. See?

Look! An albino cave Hoek Wallaby!

S'up, bitchezzzz?


And I'm done for pictures. Googling just brings up shots of wallabies getting eaten by snakes, strung up by hunters or run over by cars.

Ok, gad. Wait. Ok. If you put "adorable" before "wallaby," it spits these out:

(I actually used to do this with ducklings.)

The end.

Sometimes, when I'm stuffing a leg into the box for shipping, I feel like Goldie Hawn in Overboard. You know, that scene where she's trying to cook a whole chicken in a pot, and she can't get the legs to cooperate? Like that.

I haven't eaten meat in 19 years (dairy in 15), so I find it amusing how often the jars of tissue in the lab resemble what my co-workers eat for lunch. My sister and I once discussed the difference between the two (dead tissue for eating and dead tissue for dissecting), and I think the conclusion was "cause of death." As in: there is no difference, except that the stuff in the jars is fixed in formulin so that a smart person can cut it up and find out what went wrong with the animal. The stuff between the hamburger buns is the same as the stuff in the jars. So when people make the "ew" face when someone mentions tofu, my eyes involuntarily roll skyward. Yeah. Bean curd is way more disgusting that the rotting flesh of a dead animal.

Ok, I've got to hit the hay. Lots to do before shipping Mom off to Florida tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Icy balm

The Wings lost 6 - 0 last night. Owwwwwwww, my heart.

The best remedy for *cough*bad*cough* hockey is ... more hockey. So tonight before work, I'm going to the firefighter' last regular season game. They're up against 3rd Rock who, by some amazing coincidence, are third in the standing. I imagine they all look like John Lithgow.

I dropped my iPhone at work last night and now the screen is fucked. I can turn the phone on and click around, but the screen just stays grey. Or blue. Or light purple. Sooo ... shit. Guess I have to give AT&T a call. I don't like not having a phone. I feel safer knowing help is only a phone call away at any given time. Ergh.

R got us all Voodoo Doughnuts last night, and was kind enough to get two vegan ones for me. I ate half of one on my break because I hadn't eaten since lunch the day before.

On that note, I've been playing around with my Dexedrine spansules. I've been taking 20mg at once and it worked pretty well for several months, but a friend of mine takes 15mg and then 10mg an hour later (I believe), so I thought I would try that. I had to get my Rx refilled yesterday, so I took one spansule when picked them up and another an hour and a half later. I picked a great time to experiment; things have been picking up at work, and we were really overwhelmed last night. I was able to focus really well and get a lot done. I was still a half hour past my scheduled time, but oh well. I need the overtime. Too bad the company forbids it. I think if any of those pigfuckers in Corporate had to work night shift, they'd seriously reconsider that little rule.

But I digress. I do tend to get hyperfocused a lot at work. You wouldn't normally think that's a bad thing, but if my supervisor and or/co-workers didn't remind me, I'd work straight through my lunch. I've lost 30 pound since being diagnosed with ADHD almost a year ago (January 24th). I started taking the instant release Dexedrine in February and switched to spansules in May. Needless to say, I wouldn't have lost this much (or any?) weight if it hadn't been for the meds. As if literal peace of mind weren't enough, they help me not stuff my face with food every time I'm stressed out. I have found that, when I take a day or two off from the meds, I'm still able to eat reasonably.

Anyway, the dogs are staring at me, so I'd better feed them before they eat one of the cats. I let them out when I got home and Curly Joe wiped out trying to run up onto the porch. From where I was standing, it looked like somebody threw him at the house; I laughed so hard, I woke up my sister.

Oh! Wait! Some lovely hockey news:

Winterhawks Place 5 On NHL's Top-100 Draft List
POSTED: 11:46 am PST January 12, 2010

The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau has released its mid-term draft rankings, and five Portland Winterhawks players are among the top-100 draft eligible skaters. Forward Nino Niederreiter is ranked No. 14, center Ryan Johansen is ranked No. 16, defenseman Troy Rutkowski is ranked No. 43, forward Brad Ross is No. 69 and defenseman Taylor Aronson is No. 90. No other Western Hockey League club has more than three skaters among the top 100. The NHL Draft is scheduled for June 25 and 26 in Los Angeles. The Winterhawks visit Kamloops on Wednesday.

My baby hockey is better than your baby hockey! Thhhhpppphhhhtt!

Gad, I hope I can get my phone fixed.

P.S. Watch this. Repeatedly.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fire and ice

I was determined to start out 2010 with some hockey, and what do you know? Last Wednesday I went to a hockey game. What's better than hockey? Free hockey! I've been going to firefighter games for almost two years now, but I haven't gone to many games in the last year because I started working the graveyard shift. Wednesday's game started at 6:30, so I was able to attend and still have plenty of time to get to work by 9:30. The Mountain View Ice Arena is not even 15 minutes from my work, just over the river in Vancouver.

I got to the arena just as the second period started (long story, don't ask). The Portland Firefighters Hockey Club was tied 1 -1 with the Pylons. I have no idea who they're affiliated with, but they looked a lot like the Flyers.

There weren't a lot of people in the "crowd," but as far as I can tell, that's the norm. I was one of less than a dozen people parked on those frozen benches. I was smart, though, and brought the blanket Rene made me for Christmas. My butt was warm, but everything else was cold.

Anyway! I'm exhausted, so I'm going to make this one short. Portland ended up winning, 9 to 1. It was pretty freaking sweet. Here's some (crappy) video:

The game ended a little before 8:00. I had some time to kill before work, so I farted around Target for a while, waiting for my friend to get done having her hair did, as we had plans to meet for dinner. It took longer than expected, so I just headed to work and ate the extra salad I'd packed.

There's another 6:30 game coming up this week, and I'll be going to that one as well. If they win this one, the firefighters get the number one seed going into the playoffs. Very exciting!

Okay. Bedtime for Bonzo. I took some expired Tylenol PM, so this might be my last update. Forever.