Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Evil Doin' Chaplain

While the rest of my angelic clergy colleagues are at renewal day renewing their ordination vows, I stayed home.  I thought I had a tax appointment with my tax man, and I had a doctor's appointment, and it's raining so hard, I have been afraid to go to the gym for two days because I don't own a kayak.  I don't know how my mother is getting out of her house, since she lives at the top of a hill, but I suspect it must be like white water rafting to get to the bottom.  Oh, how sick I am of rain!  It feels like it rained all last spring and summer, too...

Anyway, would you like to know how evil I am?  Today, I realized I had not received an income tax statement from my student loan company.  I own them several thousand dollars.  I automated my bank to pay my bills for me, so it's automatic, and I don't have to think about it.  Writing too many bills checks makes me cry and then demand we give ourselves allowances of $5 a week and never spend another cent.  Since our budget DOES allow for expenditures such as groceries and gas, M prefers the automated payment thing since it keeps me sane. So the bank pays the bills and I don't really think about it.

Until I realized I needed that interest statement to deduct from my income taxes.  No problem.  I called the company.

The entire phone call lasted about 45 minutes and consisted of me asking a two word question, and receiving a long lecture in response.  I am an irresponsible, vaguely criminal scofflaw ne'er-do-well who has no sense of personal responsibility and obviously didn't understand that a promissory note means I must repay the loans in question.  You see, I was seriously delinquent on my account.  I was 16 days over due on my account.  My account is so far overdue, they gave me a whopping penalty. And I must understand that this sort of thing will not stand and that I better understand that I cannot cheat the US Government.

My account was underpaid by .03 cents.

My penalty is .87 cents.

She offered me a forebearance for financial hardship.  I said no, and adjusted my automated bank payment to cover the .87 cents.

True story.  Sadly.  My brother-in-law, N, let me know that this sort of thing is why banks fail.  I wonder if I'll get royalty checks if they name the recession after me, since it is ALL my fault.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hartford DOES have nice people!

            I like my iPhone an awful lot.  I won’t say that I love it.  Too many other people have already professed their love for the small black slab.  And I don’t love it- but I do admit that I like it.  An awful lot.

            I have my whole brain on it- all my calendars, all my contacts, a few work-related books, a Kindle reader program, a project planning list, notepads, and even a mind mapping program.  (Okay, and PocketGod, if you really must know).  A few months ago, it was stolen.  Many people noticed, because I didn’t show up to appointments, didn’t call people back, and was late to everything and disorganized at those things I did manage to get to.  We replaced it quickly, but because AT&T is mean, I had to pay a greater price. 

            Meanwhile, my beloved M uses his phone as a calendar and as a nifty place to store all his amusing games.  He has a real knack for finding goofy games, like the one where you launch the Easter Bunny into the sky and shake him around to earn points, or the one where you place dynamite to blow up a stick-figure building as flat as possible.  Tragically, he misplaced his this last week.  Not only was he about to miss acupuncture, he had no virtual dynamite.  He’s a man.  He has that manly need to blow stuff up- even virtual stuff- regularly!  I sent the phone a message and we called the various lost-and-founds of the places he had been.  But nothing happened. 

            But yesterday, just as I was about to begin my volunteer shift at Ten Thousand Villages, I got a phone call from an unrecognized number.  Some lady had found a phone beeping insistently, and finally she checked it to see there was an IMPORTANT MESSAGE- the message I had sent asking the phone to call me!  I asked her to leave the phone at the front desk for M, explaining he’d be able to prove it was his by entering the passcode lock.  He went down and retrieved it, good as new.  So we saved a bucket of money and he even got all his fun little games back.   

            The fact that it was returned by a stranger just restores all my faith and hope in humanity.  Did I mention that it was returned by a stranger in HARTFORD, CT?  Hartford’s official city motto is, “Hartford- really, we’re not that bad!”  The hospital really does give you a nice, panoramic view of the city, and it looks so sparkly and hopeful from the 11th floor.  And did we mention the nice people?  So, lady who we will never meet, thank you!

            In other news, I got to spend my volunteer shift at Ten Thousand Villages unpacking boxes from a big order.  The managers are quickly discovering that I have a strange love of the pricing gun and I love to unpack stuff, check it off, and put little price stickers on it.  (Oh, the control-freak joy!)  Getting a whole pile of a dozen boxes was almost more than I could bear.  I was well over my shift when the manager sent me home, but I would have finished out that box if I could have.  Man, is that pricing gun all sorts of low-tech fun!  SKU numbers!  Prices!  Match stuff!  Count things!  Make hash marks and check them off!  Put them away in color-coded areas!  Whoo hoo!  I love it.  I really do.  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On a chilly Wednesday before I fall asleep for the day...

What a weekend we had, eh?  Naturally, I spent as much time possible outside in the glorious sunshine.  We've had such a miserable rainy year that it feels like it has been about two years since I've had perfect weather like that.  I went all bike mechanic, and installed pedal straps, a bottle cage, two new roadie tires, and put my first bike computer on my roadie bike- all by myself!  Prior to this, I've relied on my local bike shop to do everything.  I feel like a toddler getting dressed for the first time.  "See?  I did it all by myself!"

In the meantime, life has been fun at work.  I'm not talking fun like the noise that kept me up all freakin' night last night (if you can keep up a deaf chaplain, you are WAY too noisy!).  I've been making some great connections and getting to know my colleagues better since I'm there more.  I've been working on a few little pet projects that I hope to complete in the next few months.  Beyond the board certification drama, I'm also writing a piece on my theology of emergency work.  I'm finding I live in an interesting place right now: I respect my boss so much, and I think she's a testament to hard work and tenacity.  But I'm also finding that we have totally different theories of chaplaincy.  She likes the all-arounder model where any chaplain can pick up any patient anywhere and follow them through an entire stay.  I like the expert model, where a chaplain specializes in a certain type of care.  Lord, spare me the hemodialysis and give me my trauma drama any day!  But I can't always be pithy and fun.  Sometimes, I gotta back this up with research.  That takes time, I tell you.  Serious time.  I hope to be writing drafts soon.

The church is also going through some interesting times- I won't say much right now, but over the next six months, I think a few friends will have some of the most awesome ministries ever taking off.  After five years, it seems most of us have laid enough groundwork to really get our footing.  And there are some totally innovative, awesome, extremely cool ideas coming to our church.  I just pray and hope that the mainstream has enough sense to grab these cool things as they come.

Oh, and did I mention my nifty new tiffins yet?  I should.  Maybe next time.  They are so cool, I dress my daily salads in awesome sauce.  Just wait and see...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Birthday Bike Ride

It is true that I'm a St. Paddy's baby.  Some years, I'm able to take the day off.  This year, I had to work.  (booo!) But this year, at least, we had some freakin' AWESOME weather!  Naturally, I thought "bikeridebikeride" all the way home.

M had left me a present of a new pair of Native Dash SS glasses to replace the ones I smashed in The Crash.  I suppose I can stop stealing his now.  Glasses, in addition to looking cool and athletic, also protect one's eyes from road debris.  Handy.

I thought I'd take my hybrid out, but as I suited up, my love of my light, lithe road bike won out.  The poor thing hadn't been on a real ride since August.  It was time.  A few pumps to the tire later, and we were ready to roll.  Well, I was still missing my bike computer.  That's the last thing that got lost in the crash that I can't find anywhere.

It is true that I was a little nervous in my ride.  Every road bump was a clenched-teeth obstacle.  Every red light was a terror.  Every car wanted me dead.  Every patch of gravel was plotting to take out my wheels.  I did not ride any train tracks, but if I had seen any, I'd have gotten off and walked.  In a few places, I had to make a U-turn.  I made U-turns that outsized my Beetle's turning radius.  I didn't open it up and let it fly down a single downhill.

I think it'll take a while to feel totally safe again, on my little road bike.  Poor, faithful little steed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Laundry in a Man's World

It looked so innocent, so sweet.  It was a large blue Ikea bag, filled to the brim.  Several neatly folded shirts floated at the top, artfully topped by a few pairs of folded socks.  I looked into the depths of my closet, and ripped open the box of plastic cartons I had bought.  My mission was to bring order to my closet and to put away the laundry, and I would brook no defeat.

My closet is a little awkward in shape.  It had a handy sloped floor that serves as a built-in-shoe rack, but all the actual clothes are on a single shelf above my head.  I have piles for each type of clothing.  But M, as he would put away laundry, constantly placing jeans in the pajama pile, sweaters with sweatshirts, camisoles with the undies, and worst of all, mixing up the gym T-shirts with the wearing-out tees.  [True story: as I was relating this story to a male colleague, he knit his brow in confusion.  "OK," he said, "I'm going to have to side with M on that one.  T-shirts are all the same."  Quitting time came before I could explain that a gym t-shirt was a much different creature than a wearing-out-to-dinner-at-the-burger-joint or a sitting-on-the-couch-watching-TV t-shirt...]

To no avail, I had labeled all my piles with my handy label maker.  Finally, today, I bought a set of clear plastic boxes.  I would conquer the unruly piles at last.  I quickly re-folded the wayward sweaters and re-piled the leaning pile of jeans and sorted out the jammies.  I turned to the Ikea bag of laundry to put that away.

I discovered... it was a freakin' decoy layer!  Underneath the top layer, the laundry was all jumbled up and wrinkled.  The socks were unmatched.  The button-down shirts were entangled and balled up instead of being gently layered over the top.  The t-shirts were stuffed in haphazardly.  I glared at the offending pile, quickly realizing that M's version of "oh, yeah, this is done" is far from my "oh, yeah, this is ready to be put away and worn" done.

In fact, the day I dropped him off at the laundromat and did the grocery shopping while he worked, I returned while everything was still in the dryer.  I sat down to check my email and read the news while he went to get the laundry.  Obviously, I misjudged time because it was mere moments before he was back with that fateful Ikea bag and a big grin, declaring that we were ready to go.

I should have noticed the manic glint in his eye.  I should have seen the dreamy face as he babbled on about his latest paper.  I should have realized that his mind was nowhere near a laundromat, and instead, it was several miles away holed up in a library constructing a short paper about welfare communism and FDR and that other guy...  I should have guessed that he'd start to fold a bit of laundry and then hear the words "groceries" and "done".

I had thought he'd fold the laundry and put it away and come downstairs to watch some TV and have a drink with me.  He thought I'd make a nice late dinner and he'd curl up on the couch with the cats and a bunch of books.

An hour later, I had two quiches out of the oven, several bags of prepped veggies, and two drinks in hand (one for each of us).  He had a cat, a book, and a remote.

And today, I have discovered that I married an intellectual.  For I have a living room with two large, lazy cats, and several impressively precarious piles of books, but my laundry is in a hopeless pile covered by a few measly decoy shirts.

But I gotta say, it does make for scintillating road trip conversation and sparkling dinner tete-a-tetes, even if I must resign myself to never getting folded laundry ever again.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weggy World

My "girls" from college are like bonus sisters.  My real life sister has actually grown to be a pretty cool person, but that took a while.  We are so far apart in age that, in college, we both gravitated to super-strong friendships with girls around our own age so we had the sort of sister experience we never had with each other.  (Trust me, when you are 12 and your three-year-old sister is getting into your private stuff, both of you suffer trauma.)

I imagine my own sister will end up traveling to visit friends after she graduates, much like I pilgramage to NY a few times a year to see girlfriends and their houses and their babies and hopefully their libraries and stuff like that. Upstate NY is a beautiful, rural part of our country.   As a college freshman, I was mystified by my new friends' planning these meccas to this place called Wegmans.  I found out it was a grocery store.  They spoke of it as if it were Jerusalem.

Soon, I discovered that when a grocery store trip meant at least two hours of driving, you tend to make An Event out of visiting said grocery store.  Plus, I liked my friends so I agreed to go on such an excursion.

Nothing could have prepared me for the first trip to Wegmans.

I was greeted by an immense aisle of hot bars, fresh pizza, succulent bakeries, a coffee bar, and a grinder section.  The store seemed to spread for miles, and had a crunchy granola section and a ramen section that both defied imagination.  A little model train track ran around parts of the ceiling.  But did I mention that grinder section?  I'm a proper Yankee, and I was craving me some grinder.  You know that sort of thing:  it's a sandwich, built on a big long roll, filled with fillings and shredded lettuce.

I ran up to the counter, and cheerfully asked the man if he could please give me a veggie grinder.  He gave me a very baffled look, and directed me to Aisle 6.

I was somewhat crestfallen.  I didn't want a premade sandwich.  I wanted a fresh sandwich, built right in front of me, to my own specifications.  But he was insistent.  I would find my grinder on Aisle 6.  I made my way to Aisle 6... which housed cooking implements, including table-mount grinders for all my food grinding needs.


I went back to the counter, and pointed at the sign, and told the guy that I wanted one of those types of sandwiches.  He got it, now, and was glad to make me a "sub".  Those New Yorkers.  Aren't they cute?

A few months later, I brought back a "grinder sale" sign to show my friends how we did it in CT.  Somehow, we managed to stay friends all these years.  The grinder incident didn't freak them out that much, though I admit that my near-death mono episode was a little more dicey.  Through the boyfriends, the girlfriends, the moving, the marriages, the turning 30, the various babies, and all the graduate degrees we've all gone after because we just can't settle down and become productive members of society until we are sufficiently over-educated, we've all stuck around in some way or another for each other.

Happy Celebration Weekend, guys!  Anyone up for a trip to Wegmans?  I'm in a mood for grinders.  And birthday cake!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Nice Pair of Scrubs

Just so you don’t get the idea that my nifty job is all fun and games… the other night, I was caring for a family when a patient got sick and let fly with his stomach contents.  It was so totally not his fault in any way, but he still got my trousers.  I am fairly sure I am going to have to throw out my shoes (suede Danskos).  I wiped them down with the super strong stretcher wipes that LifeStar uses to clean their equipment after they come in with their stretcher covered in crud and interesting substances of all natures and descriptions.  However, I can’t throw Danskos in the boiling hot lye water wash I plan to wash everything else I was wearing in.  I know that the super strong hospital strength stretcher wipes are good enough for LifeStar, but are they good enough for me?  I don’t have that germaphobe reputation for nothing.

I did get a massive pair of scrubs out of the deal.  I headed down to an inservice at 730AM looking like an OompaLoompa, and I’m fairly sure that someone wondered why I was wearing clown-sized pants at Morning Report.  They are naturally extremely comfy, but something that is that big has to be comfy.  They are an exceptional shade of navy blue, institutional and nondescript at the same time.  The scrubs will probably make great jammies, or new “wear around the house” pants for the days when I want a variation on my yoga-pant workout.  (You wear yoga pants and walk around the house, thinking exercising thoughts like, "I wonder if I'd like to go to the gym"). 

As far as *getting* the scrubs... well, I was a little leery of sounding like a total wimp by asking for scrubs.  I took the stretcher wipes to my pants, too, but after a quick walk to a different waiting room, I relized in the elevator that the pants smelled like a combination of stomach contents and stretcher wipes.  That solved my wimp worries.  And now all God's people say, "PEE-EWW!"  

Lucky for me, we all knew it had been a top-ten most-bizarre things-ever call.  I looked straight at the charge nurse and said something smooth like, “Hey there, my pants stink and I don’t want to stink all night.  Please save me from myself.”  And she waved her hands with the power and might of Anna Wintour, and just like that, new pants were procured. 

Anna Wintour DOES get you more FASHIONABLE clothes (I wouldn't mind a pair of those cute Prada flats that were so popular last year.  Call me!), but I will settle happily with clown pants. 

Let's just not mention to anyone that the chaplain did a quick strip in her office.  That sort of thing tends to weird out the fundamentalists.