The Funny Current

is actually a current controlling heart rate.

Category: arizona

Orientation Day and Cactus!

Transfer students got their own orientation day. Mostly run-of-the-mill stuff with how to study and what to expect in the coming year. But I think we all know no matter how much we prepare, we’ll still be surprised.

What everyone was really looking forward to was the phlebotomy training session. I ended up being paired with an MD/PhD student who claimed to be the only person in the room who had experience drawing blood before. Maybe he was talking about rats or something because he did a good job mangling both my arms.

Lesson learned: don’t try to go 90 degrees with a needle IN someone’s arm. It hurts a lot.

I wish the picture was more gruesome to make my point, but I couldn’t really use it without significant discomfort for a few days.

I wasn’t too bad, but I have to get the hang of what a vein feels like. I also have to stop pressing the safety on the butterfly needle before I use it–it makes the needle shoot inwards and garbage.

But best part of the week?

Kate mailed me a piece of the agave plant I dragged over one early morning!! This sucker is sharp. I stuck myself quite a few times while potting it. Hopefully it takes root and I can really have a piece of the desert with me.


The Tapeworm and Magician

So I think the last 2 notable encounters I had in Tucson were with a boy who apparently had a tapeworm and a couple who were…”practitioners of magic”.

The little boy was probably around 7 years old. He’s such a sad case because it highlighted how long things take. His mother had come to the van almost a month ago, looking for help, but we couldn’t do anything because we needed to get his old hospital records. For some reason, that took forever and there was a bit of push-and-pull between the staff to actually look for the tapeworm or not. Finally, they came back with a stack of papers detailing his history and hopefully, they’ve given him some anti-parasitic like praziquantel.

Both the mother and son are super sweet, and you could tell he was almost lethargic and just too thin. How strange is it that after all the workup from the hospitals, they didn’t discharge him with the medication? It looks pretty cheap…

The day before I left, we had Tucson House which is a slow site, but it was topped off with the last people of the day. This couple comes in and I strike up a conversation with the husband who’s waiting outside. I mention his shirt, which I’ve seen on Threadless (or is it Woot?), a puppy Cerberus. He gets really excited and just starts talking about how he’s a “death-head” and schools me on all mythology, Greek, Roman, Norse.

What started it all

His wife’s name is Freya (Of course), and he starts telling me about the Ring Cycle, and I’m totally overwhelmed. He says some odd things about how he believes in magic, and I get the feeling that he’s something related to a Wiccan, where it’s almost a religion/way of life, but I really can’t tell. His wife is actually getting a bit antsy since they have an appointment to make and doesn’t let him go on too much.

He did give me something valuable though…

He had his and his wife’s bikes strung up on the sidewalk, and I asked him where he had started out from. He said a place that would have easily been 15 miles away, and I gave him a look of “wow, that was a workout”, and say it must have taken a long time.

He’s a bit of a smart alec, and smirks at me then says, “yeah well, we rode for a few blocks then took the bus.” To my expression, he supplies, “I only implied that we rode here, I never said I did. You made the assumption yourself. That’s what magic’s about– illusions”.

Bike Routes

I thought it’d be fun to show some of the places I biked to. Up to 5 miles is nothing, and I’m no seasoned cyclist. But damn, the 8 miles one was hellish.

I would have loved to put in a ride from 4th ave to Kino Hospital as the crowning jewel of my achievements, but that was a ride that Google misled me on and I nearly went into a highway. Such good times!

Push It

It seems like everyone has gone through really rough times in their life. But you’d never suspect a complex story when you first look at someone. If they’re relaxed enough, you assume things have gone more or less OK.

When I first met Edgar, he was introduced simply as the MA and truck driver. But this guy has traveled and lived all over the US. He had grown up around mechanics and had a familiarity for automobiles, and naturally got into trucking. That alone is a job I can’t even imagine properly. Being given a few days to cross multiple state lines in this huge semi. Alone. Bored. Maybe sleepy. I’d love to stop and take pictures on the side of the road, but that really isn’t an option when it’s your job to get to your destination fast and you could be carrying perishables.

It kind of explains Edgar’s fixation with the phone and texting. I mean, what else can you do while you’re driving than have a long conversation with someone?

It makes me think of the Transformers when he told me and Betty about how he and his buddies would resolve road issues. On a 2 lane road, if someone wouldn’t let him pass, he’d radio in his friends to cut ahead and block the other truck off, then they’d have words with him.

For a few years, he also did some oil rigging in I think Wyoming, the details are a bit fuzzy now. Wyoming?! Another state that I know exists but I don’t ever think of. Being on 24 hour call to drive and separated from his wife and kids must have been torment. It makes me think how petty it is when college kids tell each other they “can’t do long distance”.

Somehow Edgar got into health care and was working as an in-home care assistant before he came to the Mobile. I guess these instances stuck out in his mind as particularly disturbing: a naked old woman who always got up to smear her stool on the walls, and an elderly man who was sexually flamboyant and would always be masturbating.

Then there’s Ryan, the new MA, completing his hours on the van. He’s obviously going to school and also has a part-time job driving the Green Cab in town. I don’t know if he ever sleeps. Driving a cab (just like taking out loans for medical school with 8% interest) sounds a lot like indentured servitude. He starts with -$114, so he has to make back that amount and then some for it to matter any.

I feel pretty high-brow saying that I’ve done part-time work tutoring. It’s a clean, painless, high-paying, cash job. Money is money in the end, but the work you do to get it makes you appreciate it in more ways. I’m thankful that my family is financially stable and in the middle-class. That I could make some pocket money to spend on whatever I wanted instead of having to put it to never-ending rent or car payments.

Betty of course has her own story. She started nursing school later in life and had to literally go to extreme lengths to attend school, driving some 150 miles one-way in another town. With husband and kids too? I just can’t believe how much one person can handle and then push themselves to do more. Willpower is amazing.

I had originally had this draft with notes on how inadequate I felt compared to these people, but I’ve changed my mind about it. It’s not productive to compare and then lament. It should stand as an inspiration for your capacity to do more. It’s too easy to get stuck in this downward rut and I’m actively trying to lift myself out of thinking that way.

Catchup on Sedona and Petrified Forest, Painted Desert

_MG_9200ePetrified Forest…

wood stone texture panel

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Just had breakfast with Betty and got dropped off at the airport. I thought I was turning into a squid, just not letting the final hug go. Her getting lost all the time stopped me from getting the tear-fumes because I was giving her directions from the phone.

I’m in the middle of a digital revolution so I really shouldn’t feel Ike I’m leaving people behind. We’ve got Skype and oovoo, clouds here and there, and lightning fast texting. I just have to be really good at keeping it all together.
I felt good as I got more involved with the work on the van, and now that I’m in the airport I can feel the familiar miasma of ny, stress, and my board scores in inching back. I really have to work hard at keeping the tucson sun and the warmth of all the people here inside of me and looking at that instead of crying over spilt milk and worrying constantly.
I scoff at “rejuvenating” getaways and retreats but I really needed one. Although the way this one came about was still pretty rude, I’m glad I got to make something out of it and fell into a place that needed me.

It’s baffled me how people get to be good friends with each other without a unifying factor like work or school. It’s so easy to just be by yourself and then get into a rut. I think it’s all about recognizing basic human needs. It’s like the 5 Fs (feeding, fleeing, feeling, fighting, and f—ing), and food is an obvious one. Breaking bread was always a huge ritual from the old days. But sleep is another one. And offering a bed is monumental. It helps you anchor yourself somewhere and immerse yourself in that environment. Now that a few people have officially said, if you ever decide to come back, you have a place to stay, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Now that I had people who are keeping me on tab for visits to ny, I feel I really have to get to know the streets well again so I can show them around without consulting the phone.

Bars Don’t Do That

The fastest way to make friends is to eat with them and invite them over to your house.

Moms first text

My mother’s first complete sentence through text. I compare Brooklyn to tucson:



Emotional goodbye to my trusty loan-bike, Trouble.

We had some good times together, packing you with obscene amounts of duct tape to secure my things for the Grand Canyon, getting stopped at the lowest part of the dip with cars backed up behind us, almost going onto the freeway, trucking along with 20 lbs in the bookbag, scavenging for parts to fix you up along Pima.

In one ear…

Damn…I feel like all the wisdom I’m accrued is just GONE.