Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Home on the Range in Greater Podunk....

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill, I could see the city light, Wind was blowing, time stood still, Eagle flew out of the night.... (Peter Gabriel, "Solsbury Hill")
Well, I'm here---and facing a mountain of boxes to unpack....
aaaarghhh!!! But I'm happy as a clam to be here because this new apartment is soooo much better than the old dump. And there's even more benefits to it than I had previously thought. In fact, the first thing I figured out (and it's somehow "fitting") is that I have a clear view of the Interstate from my bedroom window.
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Which is fine by me, because I guess since I spend so much of my time on the road, it's somehow fitting that I live right next to the "King Of All Roads". (You can see a white truck passing by on it, there in the distance, just past the playground of that church.)
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I'm envious that the church's Sunday School has a playhouse. I never had a playhouse when I was in Sunday School. I went to strict Baptist churches where you had to stay inside during Sunday School to memorize Bible verses. And I was constantly getting into trouble with the Youth Director for various misbehaviors, usually involving knocking over my Koolaid cup during Bible Verse Recitation or getting caught "talking to my neighbor" while the "Name That Bible Character" game was going on. (Um...I guess not much has changed for me since Sunday School.....)

Anyhoo, I'm thrilled to be so close to my office and the hospital---they're both right next door to each other, just 3 blocks away from my apartment. I slept late this morning because it only took all of 4 1/2 minutes to go from my door to my office's door--yahoo!!

The town's little hospital is also the home base for the region's medical helicopter, which services the surrounding rural area, which is pretty extensive. There's not another hospital for over an hour's drive in either direction. The copter's pad is situated on the roof of the paramedic barracks --and let me tell you something, if you drive by there on the day they wash the paramedic trucks outside the barracks, you can view some SERIOUS eye candy, if ya know what I mean....

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Anyway, I've got to get busy with the unpacking....so let me say AAAARGHH! again. It seems like such an overwhelmingly huge task. But I have begun it already and am having some fun figuring out where to put stuff. My mother was all set to fix me up with a bunch of flowers, but then we discovered that my balcony is "north" and doesn't get any sun. It's shaded all day, which is fine because it'll save on my air conditioner in the hot Texan sun, but it fizzles my plans for petunias, marigolds and pansies. Guess I'll have to decorate with some pretty coleuses or other shade-loving plants. (Is that a word, "coleuses"? Or is it "colei"?)

This apartment is much larger than my former one, and so I'm basking in the luxury of "space for my things". I'll even have room to set up my Ultimate Sweater Machine to make blankets on for Christmas gifts. I like to make blankets on it and then crochet cool borders on them. But I've got so much unpacking to do that I may not get into it in time for this Christmas.

Unacking my stuff always reminds me of a game I used to play all the time, a little game I made up all by myself called "What Would You Grab In A Fire If You Could Only Grab ONE Thing?" First of all, I have NO EARTHLY IDEA why I like to play this stupid game-- I just do. (This game is very similar to my other game, the one that I call "How Would You Quit Your Job If You Won The Lottery Tomorrow?"-- but this game is more fun because there's such a large variety of answers.)

(And I also like the "What Would You Grab in a Fire" game more than the "Win the Lottery" game because that Lottery game caused an extremely unpleasant event in my life that I don't like to talk about...)

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This is how you play the game: whenever you're bored in a doctor's waiting room, the check-out line at Walmart, or anywhere else tedious and boring, you simply ask the people near you the following question:"Okay, if there were a fire and you could only grab ONE thing, what would that item be?" (And it can't be a human or animal.) And then you let everybody take their turn answering about what they'd grab and why. This can be a very fun game, not to mention that it can reveal A LOT about a person's personality.... In fact, one time I played the game with my mother at one of her tea-parties. I asked the question and then we all went around the room saying what we'd grab in a fire, laughing at each other's responses... and then it came my mother's turn. She never hesitated when she blurted out: "I'd grab the antique carousel horse." Yes, folks, it's true. That's my dear mother who said that. My mother actually said that if there were a fire and she could only grab one thing, it would be the antique carousel horse mounted on a stand in her front parlor. Can you believe that she CHOSE the antique carousel horse??!

She chose ... not jewelry.. not money.. not that plaster mold of her loving daughter's hand that was made in Kindergarten... not that picture of her loving daughter on a Harley Davidson motorcycle captioned "Happy Valentines Day to My Mother".... not her loving daughter's university graduation portrait....

....but that antique carousel horse!! HMMPPHH!! Okay, like I said--this game can reveal things about people.

(You can try this with your own mother the next time you see her--just casually ask her the question while she's making cornbread or something, just to see what she'll answer--and you might be surprised....) But, as much as I like this stupid game, it got me into HUGE trouble at my nursing school once, many zillions of years ago. First of all, I need to tell you that I went to a convent nursing school--yes, they do exist-- which was an experience that I am sure was much worse than Marine Boot Camp. In fact, that experience was so horrible that I always swore that if I ever had a daughter who was a juvenile delinquent, I'd send her to this nursing school.... I never did have children so I didn't have a chance to send any of them to the convent nursing school, but I still have rueful memories of that place. It was a totally strict nursing school where I lived at the hospital, ate at the hospital, studied at the hospital, and worked after classes at the hospital. And I was taught by nuns.

And those nuns DID NOT have a sense of humor. NONE. NADA. No humor. No mirth. No gaiety. They made us wear stiff white uniforms with a pert white cap stuck onto our heads with bobby-pins. And we were under THREAT OF DEATH not to ever commit infractions like wearing red lipstick or cussing while in uniform. In fact, we were under threat of death if we EVER committed any act which was even vaguely "unladylike".

I lived with the other students in the student nurse dorm which was guarded by a house mother who made Hitler look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The list of things forbidden in the student dorm included men, alcohol, stereos or anything else deemed "fun". We were ruled over by the nuns who seemed to take great joy in being severe and stern. I never saw one of those nuns smile the entire time I was in that school. They were just plain BITTER. Butter wouldn't have melted in their mouths. If humor was dynamite, they wouldn't have had enough firepower to blow their own noses....

GARGOYLES would have smiled sooner than those nuns would...

I was a complete disaster at that school. I was like the female version of a Texan Forest Gump--my boisterous "Hidy y'all!" made the nuns cringe. And my constant rebellious attitude, irreverence, and mischevious streak got me into ENDLESS trouble, even though I studied constantly and was a very good student. Those nuns never gave me a break. For example, one time I taped a long list of muscles onto the wall in my favorite booth in the bathroom--just so I could utilize that extra five minutes to memorize a few more muscles for a big test. I thought it was a great idea but one of the nuns yelled at me for it. She said (and I quote): "Do you think the bathroom is a movie theater or something? Bathroom booths are NOT for viewing things!"

And then she yelled at me again when she found out that I had later placed another big sign on the outside of the bathroom door, this one emblazoned with the words: "Coming Soon To a Bathroom Booth Near You! The Wild and Wooly World of Those Wacky Mitochondria!"

The nuns were on me constantly, beating me into submission. I think they were particularly strict with me because I wasn't Catholic--I was a "sinful Baptist"--and they appeared DETERMINED to wring the laughter out of me and mold me into their idea of a nurse--a grim, joyless clone of themselves. I'm telling you, it was ROUGH. Sometimes things got so dismal and unendingly harsh, with no respite, that I used to pray to the Lord, late at night, lonely and miserable in the student nurse dorm, sincere and earnest prayers that went something like this: "Lord, it's me again. Now, Lord, you know I'm not a quitter. So I ain't gonna quit nursing school. But I SWEAR TO YOU that these dang nuns are the meanest rattlesnakes that I've ever encountered in all my born days. And I am asking you to cause them to THROW me out of this Godforsaken place since I won't quit, okay? I mean it, Lord--I've gotta get out of this hell-hole. I hate these mean old biddies, Lord, and I'll just confess my sin right here and now-- which is that I really want to strangle the hell out of Sister Kathleen. And for that matter, I would also like to kick Sister Sandra's ass up and down the main cloister hall. And also, Lord--and excuse me for being so graphic, Sir--- but I also TRULY want to STOMP THE LIVING CRAP out of Sister Agnes..."

Oh yes, the Lord got a nightly earful from me during that period of my life. But, since I'm not a "quitter", I didn't quit nursing school. Nor did I get kicked out, as the Lord, in his infinite mercy, somehow saw fit to give me enough restraint NOT to carry out my fantasy of stomping the living crap out of Sister Agnes. Eventually I graduated and escaped their torture. Oh for God's sakes, why did I digress and start moaning here about those old nuns??? Geez, I can go off on some wild tangents, can't I?
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Anyway, where was I?... Oh yes, I was telling you about the GAME.... Anyway, it was that stupid game of "What Would You Grab In A Fire If You Could Only Grab One Thing" that got me into some big-time trouble one day in nursing school. There were were, waiting in class, wearing our uncomfortable nursing student uniforms and caps, shuffling restlessly at our desks while we waited expectantly for that old battle-ax, Sister Kathleen, to come give us a lecture on "Nurse Professionalism". She was chronically late, and she usually arrived with white donut dust all over her lips from her continual snacking on Little Debbie's Powdered Donuts. And this day she was late again. Very late.
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Where the hell was that woman? Didn't she know I had a date at a local pool-hall with a cute guy that evening? I wanted to get to the pool hall before the auto mechanic shop across the street closed because those mechanic guys always hogged the pool tables. I had won $75 the previous week at that pool hall when all those guys bet me that I couldn't drink an entire water glass full of McIlheney Tabasco Sauce and I wanted to see if I could pull that same trick again.
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Finally, I couldn't stand the silence any longer. I looked at the other bored students around me-- and then I said it:
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"Hey guys, if a fire broke out in the nursing dorm and you could only grab one thing before you ran out, what would it be?" The other girls were game and started offering their answers. There were the inevitable "normal" answers like "my family pictures", "my Bible", "my school books", or "my purse", etc. And after a bit we loosened up and got a little crazy, giggling over some of the cuter answers like "my boyfriend's picture", "my stuffed rabbit Bunnie-Foo-Foo", "my feet-pajamas", "my curling iron", or "my designer jeans", etc.
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We started trying to outdo each other, laughing loudly as the answers got funnier. The atmosphere became boisterous as we all completely forgot that we were supposed to be "ladylike" nursing students waiting primly at our desks for a nun to lecture us about how to be highly respectable characters who should emulate Florence Nightingale and behave with a high degree of maturity, professionalism, and responsibility while ministering to the sick..... Finally, one of the girls pointed a finger at me and hooted hysterically: "Okay, Tex, how about this one--if a fire broke out in the nursing dorm while you were in the BATHROOM studying your stupid muscles-- and you could only grab ONE thing before you ran out--what would YOUR CHOICE be???" And, caught up in the mood of the moment, I laughed like a crazed hyena and proclaimed loudly in a Texan accent: "Hell, Yankee girl, if I was in the BATHROOM and a fire broke out--why, I'd DRIP DRY, warn everybody about the fire EXCEPT that ole battle-ax Sister Kathleen, grab my DIAPHRAGM from my locker, and then haul ass outa there as fast as my feet could carry me!" "Oh really?" I heard behind me.
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To our everlasting shock and horror, we all realized that a grim-faced Sister Kathleen had been standing silently at the entrance to the classroom, having arrived just in time to hear God-Knows-How-Much of our game....
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(I think the Lord then heard 28 quick & rapid prayers simultaneously right at that exact moment--but I don't think He answered any of them since none of us melted into the classroom walls or disappeared into thin air just then....)
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I won't go into the details of Sister Kathleen's punishment for us for that little episode, except suffice it to say that I thought I'd NEVER get done doing book reports on obscure diseases of the Third World. And her resultant lecture on the need for nurses to "act with decorum" still rings in my ears today.
Where was I? Oh yes, unpacking at the new apartment..... (Lord, my mind does wander these days...) You know, aside from the "What Would You Grab In A Fire But You Can Only Grab One Thing" game, you can also tell a lot about a person by what they unpack FIRST. For me, there are several Unpacking Rules, the first of which is: 1. There Must Be a Working Television ASAP

First things first. And before the bathroom, before the kitchen, before the bedsheets--I simply MUST unpack the televisions first. God forbid that I'm ever more than 14 feet away from any of my televisions. Notice I said "televisions" plural, because I have one in just about every room of the apartment. (I'd put one in the kitchen and bathrooms if I thought the Cable TV Man wouldn't throw a complete hissy fit.)

I'm one of those people who keep the thing on whenever I'm home for "background" noise while I piddle around, work on the computer, cook, knit, do laundry, etc. I like to keep up on the news, crime shows, and what my sister calls "Pablum For the Brain" (i.e. "Friends", "Seinfeld", etc.) The first television to be unpacked is one that goes at the foot of my bed:

Next, I set up the living room TV and the den TV. And I pride myself on being a good cable TV customer because I always have everything all ready for the Cable TV Man-- this morning I had all the TV's placed next to their cable outlets with their corresponding clickers, DVD players, and VCR's sitting neatly nearby to make the "hooking up" operation as easy as possible.

When the Cable TV Man came he thought he was hooking up enough TV's for a family of four. I could tell he was shocked when he found out that they were all for me--I'm sure he thought I was nuts. He even griped about it, saying emphatically: "But ma'am, the cable outlet in that back bedroom has never even been USED---do you hear me? It's NEVER BEEN HOOKED UP before and I'll have to go outside to figure out where it's coming from!"

Too bad, so sad, Mr. Cable TV Man-- I've GOT to have my TV's. (I swear there's a living room behind all those boxes.)

There's only a couple other Unpacking Rules for me, which are:

2. The Washing Machine Must be Cranked Up ASAP:

As soon as I arrive in a new apartment I have the habit of washing all throw rugs, dish towels, shower curtains, comforters and bath towels before putting them out--even if they're already clean. This can take days. In this apartment, the "laundry nook" is at the end of the kitchen (with the "microwave oven nook" right on top of it).

Small apartments usually have the washer & dryer stuffed into a hall closet-- but I like this set-up much better. Speaking of the kitchen, I don't know where I'm going to eat for awhile because the kitchen is still not unpacked and the dining room is buried under boxes. Who'd of thought I'd have so many dang boxes?

Anyway, I've got a LOT of unpacking to do. But I can spread it out gradually over the next few weeks, after work, since I only took two days off to move and now it's back to work.

But one thing that's going to take some getting used to is living in the same town where many of my patients and co-workers live. I'm definitely going to have to watch myself, if you know what I mean. (Er....why do those old lectures from the nuns come to mind here??....)

Okay, I guess this means no more lost-temper fit-throwing in Walmart, no more slouching to the grocery store bra-less in dirty jeans-- and I'll have to watch out who witnesses me buying gossip magazines...


Okay, I'm going to admit here why I don't play my other game anymore, the one called "How Would You Quit Your Job If You Won The Lottery Tomorrow?"

It all happened a long, long time ago, in an Emergency Room far far away....

I was playing the game with my ER co-workers. I asked the Big Question and then we all went around the room, each of us describing in detail just exactly HOW we'd quit our job if we won the lottery tomorrow...

And some of the answers were pretty imaginative. One guy said he'd quit by "happily throwing dollar bills to his left and right as he strolled his way to the hospital's Human Resources Department", where he'd then quit his job. Another person said that she wouldn't quit her job at all--she'd just NOT show up for her next shift. Still another person said that he'd call in "quit" from his cruise-ship cabin when it docked at Jamaica. And still another said that he'd have Fed Ex deliver a big postcard addressed "To the Horrible Hell-Hole that I Don't Work At Anymore".

Then it was my turn to say.

I'd been waiting. I took a deep breath and stated emphatically and solidly that "I know EXACTLY how I'd do it. I'd get on the stupid Public Address System microphone and blast out to the ENTIRE hospital: 'Dr. Cunningham--GET YOUR BUTT DOWN TO THE ER.' Yep, that's exactly how I'd do it, yessiree-Bob."

When I said that all my co-workers stared at me in amazement and wonder. I thought I'd really floored them, by golly. But then they stared just a little bit too long... and suddenly I realized that their expressions weren't really "amazement and wonder" at all--their expressions were more like "horror and mortification".

Because Dr. Cunningham was standing right behind me and had heard the whole thing.


(As I said before, not much has changed for me since nursing school...)

Oh, just one more thing. I've got a question for ya:

If a magic Genie-In-A-Lamp appeared and told you that you could go to Walmart and pick JUST ONE thing for FREE... WHAT would you grab?

(Just kidding!!!!!!)

(Personally, I'd take the 57" wide-screen TV.)

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Deb said...

You DO have a lot of stuff to unpack! Good thing you got a 2 bedroom apt.
I was not as lucky as you to have a Mother Superior towering over my head during nursing school. In a rather big city, like mine, it's very impersonal. I think it would have been more fun to be a ganster in a nunnery nursing school. Oh the things that could be dreamt up! Hope your getting things unpacked and settling in your new home. I think you need a dog.

Anonymous said...

Just watch, the next time you play that game, the manager of Wal-mart will be right behind you, and knowing our world today he'd have you arrested for conspiring to rob a wal-mart, haha! Awesome post!

Dizzywardrobe said...

Hmmm...Wal-Mart on fire and I can only grab one thing? If I were being good, I'd say some kind of excersize equipment, but since I'm almost as bad as you *wink*, I'd prolly grab the big ol' flat pannel display TV too! Glad to see that you are starting to settle into your new place. I've missed the updates to your blog!

Anonymous said...

Fire at home? Grab the 1960s 3/4 size Martin guitar because it has so many flower-child memories attached. Walmart...hummmm I think one of their shopping carts would be so handy to have around the house. Good game. I moved last year and all I can say is next year things will be better. I stooped to throwing tablecloths on the boxes and using them as end tables. Hang in there.