Wednesday, July 27, 2011

gravitational pull ~~~ ball/chain of security

Annie and the girls voyaged forth yesterday. They're driving to Philly, where Annie's doing a show w/ New Paradise Laboratories. She'll be there through early October. I'll be here. Kids are w/ her for a week; in Mass. w/ my folks (and me) for another week; back w/ Annie for a week, then back there late august. Then school starts.

I can only barely conceive of the hardships military families face during deployment. This is a brief sojourn, and all will be well. Logistical headaches will arise but nothing horrible. It's an awesome opportunity for Annie, and they say that a. it's always sunny out there, and b. the cheese steaks are killer.

So, we got up around 6 am to get them loaded and away. I was tired and doodled through the morning. The pre-departure mania hadn't been overly fraught (with tension, dissension, or whatnot) but it was a busy set of days.

Then, they were gone.
The house was empty.
My day was open.

Strange feeling. I did what I usually do, biked, shaved hairs, went to a movie, then went to dinner afterward.

What's odd is how much the duty/habit of family grounds me. W/ no one awaiting me, there's a sudden absence of place or weight or whatever it is: repetition of coming home and not-ditching family duties and obligations, when in respite, becomes a phantom-limb-like habit.

It'll take some getting used to the house being empty, my off-shift days relatively open. Not drinking, there's not a whole lot of getting wild I can now catch up on. Same w/ chasing ass. I'll enjoy the lessened responsibilities for a while, but I'll miss the kids more. We're fortunate to spend so much time together, to have such a great groove together, and it's never, ever a burder or sacrifice to come home to them.

Who are we when our points of identification shift? I don't have to get home to get the kids, or meet Annie, or anything. So, who am I, removed from my relative identitiy? Same old dope, but it's interesting to witness and feel the actual tension of non-responsibility. What keeps us moving? What keeps us grounded? What do we do to ourselves, out of habit, or out of safety?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Civic duties

We were responding to a call the other night. With our nifty rig computers, we get more info from Dispatch than what they say over the air. Some of the info is helpful, some is irrelevant. Often, it clarifies the type of call it will be. Thus, a call for a possible heart attack sounds quite serious. When the follow-up comments state, 'Caller says he hurt his back last week and his muscles hurt and he think his heart might be failing,' that puts us in a better ballpark of what to expect. (Not much.) Likewise, when we get a difficulty breathing call and the follow-up states, 'Caller reports not having heard from his uncle for several days. At the house now. Uncle is in the bed, not moving. Caller thinks he might be dead.' That is more than just difficulty with breathing. That is the complete absence of breathing...

We were called to a seizure. The comments stated, 'Caller states her father was on ground, not responding. They think he's breathing.' Then the Dispatcher typed, ''Caller states her father just fell out.' We're trying to determine WHAT he fell out of.'
I nearly got on the radio to explain that it is an intransitive verb. To fall out is, locally/colloquially, to faint, lose consciousness, get light-headed, take a knee. Sometimes preceded by 'done.' As in, 'We were just hanging and she done fell out.'
I imagined the Dispatcher trying to find out what the dad had fallen out of, and, generally, those who employ this turn of phrase are more than apt to respond, 'Shit, he just fell out. He's right here.'

We arrived. There were two or three slatternly post-teen mothers stalking around smoking. A few kids roaming about with dirty faces, well dirty everything. And on the floor of the foyer was the father, who had, indeed, fallen out. There was a wet rag on him, because when someone faints/falls out, it's proper to toss water on them, or drape a wet rag on them. He was breathing and conscious. He'd drunkenly fallen off the front porch earlier (several hours earlier) and now his hip hurt. A lot. So he'd crumpled to floor in pain.
Which led to 911 call and report of their father falling out.
Which led to us arriving, post-haste.

The man was complaining about his hip, writhing in pain, then trying to scootch back toward the living room. His daughters were yelling at him, 'Dad, STOP. Stop fucking moving!' then continuing to wander and smoke and curse. We tried to get him to stay still so we could evaluate him then to await his medical chariot, which would bring him to hospital to evaluate/x-ray/'treat' a bruised hip. It hurts like hell but there's really not much to do for it.
After much carrying on, much family yelling, futile attempts at reasoning w/ yelling daughters and squirming father, the medics arrived (about ten minutes; I slowed them to code-two, meaning no lights/sirens/red-light-running, not for this). The daughters were on the phone/s, complaining that their dad had drunkenly fallen off the porch but the ambulance was taking FIVE HOURS to arrive. In their minds, it really was taking hours.
I tried to explain that he was in no grave danger--even, ahem, that he wasn't all that hurt--but their familial pride was swollen and they started motherfuckering us. The dad grimmaced, groaned, yelped, half crumbled, overcame mountains of suffering, but was able to lean on me and limp to ambulance (rather than get carried on the canvas litter. It was like watching vintage James Brown on stage. He seemed to be near death's door, until he wanted his smokes, whereupon he turned on heel and made decent progress (for a one-legged near-dead man) back toward the parlor.

Ah, another soul snatched from the jaws of death.

A. These are the calls we have.
B. I really did have to reign in my desire to give the Dispatcher a grammar/syntax clarification.
C. I'm fucked up because I really do have grammarian arguments with myself on calls.
C2. Given what we deal with, my fuck-uppedness is benign...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Science. Man vs machine vs eye of child-gods

Harper and I were walking back from the store the other day. It was steamy hot. We passed a man coming around the side of his car. He was tall. A few seconds later, Lux said, 'I thought that guy was Frankenstein for a moment. I know it wasn't really, but I looked up and he was tall and his head was big and square.'

We'd been discussing the meaning of 'evoke' and 'evocative' so I said that this was a good example of his shadow *evoking* the specter of Frankenstein, and did she see how the mind can play tricks on us? Just like at night when we hear scratching outside our windows, the first choice is generally a thirty-foot-tall beast with incredible talons, rather than the tree branches that are always there.

'Besides,' I added, 'we know there's no such thing as Frankensteins. That's a story, done for effect.'
'Well,' she replied, 'I think scientists made them but then destroyed them.'
And from there we entered a ten-minuted debate about whether Frankenstein was a (once-dead) human with a living brain, or if he was part-machine (robot) and part human.
I traded heavily on logic and reason: 'By definition, if he's metal, then he's a robot. You can't have a half-metal robot human. Or, if you can, that's not Frankenstein.'
'Well, (my grandmother) has steel in her knees and hips.'
'True, but she's alive.'
'And what about those metal things in his kneck?'
'Those were to hold the head onto the body, and were over-sized for effect.'
'How do you know?'
We called it a truce.