The nurse didn’t see fit to tell me until later that I had bled all over arm, armrest, and

the corner of my sweatshirt.  She could tell, I suspect, that I was a little green,

and so withheld until it was over.

Then she called another nurse over to mop me up,

While I looked the other way and breathed deeply.

Still, I knew.

It’s not the needle, really.

For Cam it is.  He went pale on the way to the snack table and had to be bolstered up

and ushered over to a corner cot.

For me, it’s the bloodletting.  The concept of draining blood,

independent of instruments used.

It’s the bag full of warm blackness, which the nurses toss around like it’s a water balloon.

It’s the stacks and stacks of them, sorted and labeled and shipped away.

And so when I spurted (when the needle was removed, or so I am told),

It was too much.

I was a carcass draining, and it was too much.

Naturally, I fainted, even before I could make a joke about Find Me My Smelling Salts.


Third Time’s A

This is what happens when I venture out in public:

I went to gas up my mother’s minivan this evening.  Drove up to the pump, got out, walked down the side, and promptly noticed that the gas tank wasn’t there. It was on the other side of the van.

Embarrassed, I quickly got back in and pulled around to another pump.  Got out, walked down the side of the van, and realized that I had done the exact same thing again.

By this time absolutely certain that the cashier was cracking her gum and smirking at my struggle, I ducked my head and tried for a third time to park on the correct side.

You know what they say about the third time.

On the drive home, I sang “Sweet Caroline” loudly.  I drove past my high school and smiled because I don’t miss it there one bit.  The line of headlights behind me alerted me to the fact that I was going ten miles per hour below the speed limit.  I accidentally re-smashed a road-killed possum.  And then I arrived home, where my parents were waiting.

Fall Break is a wondrous thing.

Mi Sofa Es Tu Sofa

My gentleman caller and I were hanging out last night, and when it reached 11:30 and no more Virginia Woolf could be absorbed, nor more Latin American history terms memorized, I walked him downstairs to the front door.  The living room was pitch black, and so I was naturally startled when a voice emerged from the darkness: “Hello?”

“Uh, hello?” I said, gripping my cell phone, and hoping the screen wouldn’t crack if I used it as a bludgeon.

“Is Joey asleep?” The voice spoke again.

Whew, so he wasn’t after me.  I wondered how proficient Joey was with a cellular bludgeon.

“Yes, I think so.  I’m sorry, who are you?”

My eyes adjusted, and I could make out a figure laying on the couch.

“I’m Josh.  From Minnesotans United for All Families.  Joey said it was okay that I stayed over, but the house was dark when I got here, and it looked like everyone was asleep, so I just made myself comfortable.  I hope that’s okay.”

“Oh, of course it is.  Sorry, I didn’t know we were expecting anyone, but of course it’s perfectly fine.  Make yourself at home.”

Then I said goodnight and awkwardly retreated upstairs, shaking my head.  Only at Bag End do twenty-something-year-old politically-active visitors show up in the middle of the night to crash on our couch.

In other news, one five-hour copy editing session, two Social Science Office work shifts, two midterms, one two-mile run, and a 3.5 hour car ride are all that separate me from Fall Break.

I can do this.

Old Business and New

Saturday night, I forgot to tell you, I accepted a miniature cupcake from a tray thrust at me by strangers wearing red white and blue and dangling a large American flag out of the window of their minivan.  They had apparently been circling campus for the past hour and a half, because, although we denied them the first time they slid open the door and shouted at us to take a cupcake, the next time they stopped us (we were walking in the opposite direction; Play in a Day was over) we shrugged and chose vanilla cupcakes with globs of orange (or was it red?) icing.

“Are you college students?” I asked them.

“Some of us are,” the boy in the middle seat began, grinning at me from under his spangled hat.  But he was interrupted when another party of walkers was spotted: “Forward!” the driver bellowed, and so forward they went, cheering and letting the flag whip parallel to the speeding van.

The cupcakes, although cold, we delicious, and I think I can safely say that they weren’t poisoned, as I am able to type this post with minimal numbness.

To counteract that potentially poor decision, this morning I woke up at 4:45, struggled into yesterday’s jeans, sweater, coat, mittens, hat, and the longest scarf I could find (for optimum neck wrapping), scooped up backpack and gym bag, and caught a ride to campus.

This week is the first inaugural Mental Health Awareness Week at UMM, and as MCSA is the main planning squad, MCSA (or fifteen of us, at least) met on the Mall at 5:30 to put out the shoes.

It was early, and it was cold, and the sprinklers came on in the middle of the operation.  At one point, Annie held up a pair of women’s shoes: “Look at how huge these are!  Who has feet this big?”

I walked over on my size 10.5 (11 on a poor day) feet.  The shoes were too small for me.


Anyway, each pair of shoes we arranged on the Mall (there were 1,100 pairs) represented a college student who committed suicide last year in the United States.

It ended up being a powerful display; the shoes scattered around reminded me of gravestones.  Eerie.  It was fun, however, to watch the sun rise and the students trudge to class and do double takes as they walked past the Mall.  Some decided to cut across as usual, picking their way carefully.  Most chose to circumvent the memorial, instead craning their necks to read the signs we had posted.

Making Friends at Work

Things That Happened Today:

1.  I got The Birthday Package From Home in the mail.  I retrieved it at noon or so, and because it’s now 11:53 pm and I’m still on campus, it’s safe to say that I’ve been carrying a box roughly the size of a microwave around for twelve hours.  Mom, Dad: I hope you didn’t get me a puppy, because there’s a good chance that he didn’t make it.

2.  I helped a freshman (oh the glorious first few months of classes when it’s cake to spot them in a crowd) unlock her mailbox.  She was almost crying at the Post Office, and I can remember only too well when a letter from home was enough to open the floodgates for the rest of the day.  I thought she might hug me when I finally clicked the lock and wrenched the tiny door open, but instead she shuffled her mail into her eighteen-year-old arms and skipped away.

3.  I worked a Higbies shift during which I a) made a berry white mocha cooler for the first time b) took about ten minutes to make said cooler, as I had never made one before c) finally blended and whipped and drizzled said cooler into perfection, and d) proceeded to drop the entire thing on the floor, where it burst rather spectacularly, drenching my legs and feet in a wave of pink froth.  The orderer, who looked like she wanted to burst out laughing, said no when I told her I’d make her a new one.  “I’ll have a white chocolate cooler instead,” she said.  I emptied the sugary juice from my shoes before making her the drink.

Head for Shelter

Storms come up quickly on the prairie.

One minute you’re walking home from campus, chatting with a friend, and the next the wall of black that was in the distance seconds ago is looming overhead, bending trees and tossing hail the size of golf balls.

We ran, my friend and I, to the only refuge in sight: the liquor store.

Amidst the glinting bottles we waited, dripping onto the linoleum and ignoring the stare of the cashier.

He didn’t even ask to see our I.D.s.

Just Around the Riverbend

Yesterday morning, fresh out of Estes Park, Colorado and well fed on a three-bed room with two TVs, we went whitewater rafting.

It was my sister, my Mom, and I in a boat with two elderly women, a little girl, and a guide.

Our guide, to give you a visual, sported the most spectacular neck beard I’ve ever seen.  As if that wasn’t enough, he rafted wearing 70s flared pants, striped in the colors of your grandma’s living room, and laced at the front.  He did manage to guide us successfully through level four rapids and around formidable-looking boulders, however, so perhaps the George Harrison look wasn’t so bad after all.

The rafting itself was fantastic.  While you’re rafting, you feel just as badass as you had hoped to feel.  Your personal flotation device (or PFD, as the lingo goes) is pressing on your ribs and giving your back the appearance of one who’s recently escaped from a certain belfry.  Your helmet is reminiscent of the bowl haircut you sported in third grade.  Your Keens are wedged firmly into what can only be called a ‘toe cup.’  But you are planted proudly on the unpuncturable vinyl of the raft, with two hands on the paddle.  Your abs and shoulders dig into every stroke, and soon, you’re instinctively leaning into every rapid, anticipating the bump from every underwater rock.  You’re clearly queen of the river, even though it’s your first try.  You’re unconquerable.

And when the little girl commences screaming at every slight ripple of water, you seriously consider raising your paddle and whacking her out of the boat.

Being a true river queen, however, connotes a certain amount of mercy.

So you sit tight and hum Pocahontas under your breath.