Thursday, June 30, 2011

sins and decisions

Gluttony. One of the seven deadlies. In my job, which has recently become bigger because my boss retired and the new boss isn't here yet, and the nurse, the second in command, is on vacations, so I am pretty much everybody, well, in my job, I meet people. They are typically in need, in crisis, at the end of their life or their rope or both, and I have to interview them for placement. Placement. What a word. In its wisdom, the Great State of Oregon has contrived a new language to make what I do a little more palatable. For example, folks are no longer admitted, they move in. They are never discharged, they (you guessed it) move out. They get move out notices, not evictions. But placement is still placement. There really isn't another word for it.


What I am getting at is not the language of long term care, but this fat fat woman I met today. I am working on placing her. And, as you might imagine, placing a 350 pound woman has its own set of concerns. You would want to consider, for example, where to place her, and on what? And for how long, and can she get up from there? And I was taking someone else's word for it, and I needed to see for myself that she could move because if she couldn't and we had to call the fire department because she was stuck, they'd get mad at us, and I hate that. But shit, sometimes, like a kitten in a tree, people have trouble getting out of places.

So I went to her house. "I need to see you move," I said.

She started struggling around with her robes and blankets and stuff, and I was a little concerned that she wasn't decent, so I just turned my head.

I asked her if she'd checked out the apartment she was going to be renting. I never go anywhere," she said. Never.

She has opted to eat rather than, well, anything else.

It made an impression is all.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I never did follow up on the naturpathic business. Well, to no one's surprise, I am not Noah. I could not hang with the HCG 500 calorie a day diet. I lost 18 pounds in 14 days and was so sick at that point that I bailed. She said I'm not the biggest loser, but the fastest. But then I quit.

Here's the problem. She was so nice. She put nice oils on cotton balls and taped them to my feet and playes swishy water music while I lay in the dark with needles poked here and there and that was fine. But really, who wouldn't lose weight like that?

And the cost was obscene. At each visit there were more and more supplements, more and more drops and oils and it all just makes me sick. Nauseous. I can't take multi-vitamins, let alone forty different things. I can't take ibuprofen or anything in that family. So, I got pretty sick.

I went to my knee/shoulder MD and told him the naturpathic thing was a flop. I told him I think you have to believe it for it to work and I just don't. I wish I did.

He said, fingers making the twinkly, do-wah sign: "You are not the Jedi they seek."

I love that guy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

random acts

I am in Cannon Beach, a swanky town by my standards, for a writing conference. I have my fluffy little white dog with me and we have a lovely room with a fireplace and a view of the beach.

I like this conference. It gets better each year: good faculty, interesting information. For instance, I found a way to organize my book that I have been lacking, given my general, habitual, genetic lack of organization. Excellent.

And, one of the presenters was/is a senior editor at a good publishing house and he offered to look at agent queries and first pages for critique. What I didn't realize is that this would be done in front of the entire conference.

He critiqued five submissions, each one worse than the one before it, saving mine for last. I was, understatedly, anxious. Sweating bullets. Was mine to be the final straw, so flawed as to hold a special last place?

I waited.

I had included in my query letter, by way of bio, my alma mater, a short story publication in an obscure literary journal, and having received the 2004 award for fiction. You do that in queries. You tell on yourself that way. It builds cred.

So he begins his critique of my piece by mentioning the fact that there are no page numbers. This irritates him. (Well, I think to myself, if it was a REAL submission, I'd include them.) Then he talks generally about the query, which was pretty good. Then..... then he talks about the bio. He says, "Now this bio shows us exactly why it is a good idea to include a bio."


"Turns out," he says, "I went to THAT alma mater, was the editor for THAT obscure literary journal and won precisely THAT award for fiction -- only in 2003."

I wasn't exactly listening, but when he got to the end of that last sentence, I realized he wasn't joking. I blurted from the rear of the audience, "Are you fucking serious?" But I didn't say fucking out loud.

He was serious. So, after the thing, I approached him and asked if I could send him a manuscript. He said, of course. I'm interested.

I means nothing, really. Not in the scope of getting this thing published. But each little push makes the work seem worthwhile.

Random? I think yes.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Well, after a very long haul, Delilah finally passed. Her funeral was a Catholic mass, which is always confusing for me, all of the standing and sitting and kneeling and drinking and repeating phrases that everyone but me knows about. I felt like the only heathen in the room, but my mother always told us that the pope is the anti-christ, so who's heathen now?

Anyway, it takes a really long time to die of just Alzheimer's and Delilah was otherwise healthy. She was a teacher, and she thought, because of my desk (and my commanding presence) that I was her principal. If we had a party -- christmas, you name it -- it would make her anxious. Parties make most people with dementia anxious, which begs the question: why? But I digress. When anxious, she would march into my office and say, "If you can't get these kids to quiet down, I'm getting the nuns."

Okay, Delilah. I'll deal with the kids.

She wore a wig, kicked the cats, chased my dog, tore down bulletin boards each night, and didn't sleep for years. Years. She made up anything you wanted to know. She wasn't a liar, but she didn't want to seem uninformed, so she'd just confabulate.

In the end, she went for a long sleep. Finally. At last. Her daughter was a wonderful advocate. She kept her wig washed and set long after Delilah had forgotten about hair. She understood the ravages of dementia and never missed an opportunity to speak for her mother. She cared what was important to her, not just what was important for her. Often those of us in the helping industry forget the difference.