Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

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  • Monday, January 21, 2008

    School's In

    Well. No fucking around this semester.

    Week one. Seven-page lab report, three pages of homework, and a 'battle plan' flowchart for next week's lab. (I was going to refer to my lab instructor as 'Coach', but after 'battle plan' – her term – I think I'll cut to the chase and call her 'Sarge.') First test in Medical Terminology tomorrow night. Thirteen more after that one.

    And in a couple of weeks I'll be up to my butt in cadavers. The first; a 94-year-old woman in perfect condition except, possibly, for the fact that she's dead. (I'm hoping she hasn't had a hysterectomy. I'd like to see a normal set of ovaries for a change.) The second cadaver is another woman, unusual because most donated cadavers are men. Number three is still in transit an we don't know the sex yet. It's like waiting for baby!

    Cadaver viewing is optional. There are alternate assignments. But...I think you kind of lose brownie points with Sarge if you wimp out. And really, when you're going into the medical field you should be able to handle seeing a dead body, or maybe you should reconsider your ambitions, perhaps over tea and Victoria Magazine.*

    Lecture Prof asked if anyone had ever seen a cadaver. A couple hands went up, mine included. I was ready for her if she asked for stories. I was a lab rat in high school, working summers for the same hospital my mom did. I worked in Pathology – entering data, ferrying the occasional body part, going down to the morgue to retrieve paperwork left with a body. Eeenie meenie minnie moe, pick a drawer and tag a toe.

    Every time I went down to the morgue and opened a drawer, I remembered sitting at my friend Gi's kitchen table listening to her mom tell nursing stories. I remembered one in particular. I haven't thought of it in a long time.

    Gi and I sat drinking Coke back when it was the real thing made with cane sugar, brown sediment rose petals clinging to the inside of the glass bottles. It was late, humid summer and we kept wiping off the little beads of water from the cold bottles, beads that re-formed right after our hands passed over them.

    Gi's mom and aunt were there too. If you didn't know better you might have thought they were twins. They had the same brown eyes, blond hair and open-mouthed laugh. Midwestern women just don't laugh like that. But that table welcomed it. It seemed like Gi's aunt was always siting there with a cup of coffee. She'd married well, and had a house out in the country. I visited it once, and it seemed big and lonely and empty, a far cry from Gi's old house in town.

    Gi's mom was telling us a story. She had a theory that zombie stories all started with gas.

    One night, she and two other nurses were transporting a body down to the morgue. In the service elevator the draped corpse 'let one fly.' Being seasoned nurses, they did what comes naturally; they all laughed.

    Until the corpse suddenly let fly from the other end – causing it to moan and sit up under its sheet.

    Three seasoned nurses shat themselves.

    And two women and two girls sitting at a kitchen table laughed until they nearly wet themselves. Actually, I did. Thirteen and mortified, I borrowed Gi's clothes until mine were clean and dry. But everyone laughed it off.

    It was a comfortable house that way.

    We had no way of knowing what the next months would bring. In March I would hold my brother's corpse as it rattled and moaned. And that Easter Gi and her mom would hear a gunshot upstairs, the sound of Gi's dad escaping a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

    It was the Midwest, the rust belt, a tough place. We kept things to ourselves back then, back there. Both were messy deaths, way too emotional for public consumption. So during each funeral, our friends stayed in school just across the parking lot. We joined them the next school day. No one said anything about it. To us. And we kept quiet too. We didn't say anything to each other about it, not then, and not later in high school, when Confirmation brought us back to the same little classroom.

    These things come back to haunt me around this time of year.

    O doesn't understand why really. He says I need to let it go, let it stop eating at me. I tell him that's what I'm doing here.

    Anyway. I'm not wimping out in front of Sarge.

    *I love both, incidentally.


    31 people left me a love letter:

    Blogger Jodi wrote in a love letter...

    i grew up in the midwest too. it takes a lot of time to let go of all that stuff we kept quiet back then...

    love tea and Victoria magazine...

    3:59 PM, January 21, 2008  
    Blogger amusing wrote in a love letter...

    it's amazing how speaking can release things and let them fly -- my mother never spoke of my father's affair aloud until I went through the same experience. She still cries everytime the matter comes up.

    I spoke openly and freely about my ordeal (which the family found terrible and unnerving and then boring) and, while I am not 100% and maybe never will be, I am healed and have moved on.

    4:20 PM, January 21, 2008  
    Blogger Popeye wrote in a love letter...

    The Midwest. . . Yeah, all sorts of ghosts there. . .

    4:23 PM, January 21, 2008  
    Blogger Des_Moines_Girl wrote in a love letter...

    I spent my early years in New Jersey where we speak about anything and everything (loudly), rehashing 30 year old arguments at family gatherings. Nothing brings you closer like a good old family rock fight (bring your own rocks, fire at will). When the dust settles, we kiss and make up again.

    The one exception was my Grandmother. She was so traumatized by her father's infidelity and parents' divorce when she was a young teenager (I'm guessing 1920s era) she never told the family when her husband (my grandfather) carried on an affair for years (decades?) right under our noses with a "friend" of the family. If only we'd known...

    Your cadavers sound delightful! I'm looking forward to reading your future posts.

    Letting it go - Everything we experience good or bad becomes a part of us. Sometimes you can let it go and sometimes you can't. It's okay to hold on to stuff (even bad stuff) as long as you don't let it drag you into the darkness for too long.

    5:57 PM, January 21, 2008  
    Blogger Mona Buonanotte wrote in a love letter...

    Everything we experience becomes our fabric, including the painful, hurtful, sad, lonely things. It's good and human to remember, to feel those feelings, as long as you can let them go quickly, fold and stuff them like so many care-worn sheets, in the back of the linen closet, to take out and refold and stuff away when your hand reaches back to touch it.

    I laughed at your corpse story...I'd still be soiling myself! And I've had a hysterectomy but have my ovaries...what a good idea to donate the whole kit-and-kaboodle to science!

    6:23 PM, January 21, 2008  
    Blogger Schmoopie wrote in a love letter...

    Hmm...cadavers. I helped perform post-mortem care on a gentleman at hospice in CO. A lot of air escaped from his mouth and sounded like gurgling. It was very startling. While we were wrapping him up (kind of like swaddling a baby), he still felt warm. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I am not sure why but I felt honored to be there.

    Maybe I should reconsider career choices and become a mortician.

    7:05 PM, January 21, 2008  
    Blogger Maggie wrote in a love letter...

    Seems to me if you are talking about it after these many years, then you are practicing the art of letting go - in your own time.

    Now I'm going back to my tea and Victoria Magazine...

    7:59 PM, January 21, 2008  
    Blogger liv wrote in a love letter...

    like Mags, I'm going back to tea and Victoria. my grandma and I used to dive into that periodical monthly with great zeal.

    9:59 PM, January 21, 2008  
    Blogger DaDuck wrote in a love letter...

    midwesty here too!

    Good luck this term! I don't envy you at all!

    1:51 AM, January 22, 2008  
    Blogger Clowncar wrote in a love letter...

    Nice hairpin turn you negotiated there, from comic to tragic in the space of 3 sentences. Nice story. You nailed Midwestern grieving in that para toward the end.

    Actual corpses, eh? Yikes. If any of them sit up and say "" I suggest you back slowly away from the table.

    9:49 AM, January 22, 2008  
    Blogger meno wrote in a love letter...

    My god you are funny ("It's like waiting for a baby.")

    And then, you are not.

    I think after i got used to them, that cadavers would be fascinating to me.

    3:42 PM, January 22, 2008  
    Blogger patches wrote in a love letter...

    My husband's family locked their secrets away and never discussed them. Now, they have problems they don't understand. My family pulls skeletons out of the closet and introduces them to the world. Both of us are scarred for life. Go figure.

    Good luck next semester. I believe in you.

    7:12 PM, January 22, 2008  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Ah, another veteran of the Midwest, Jodi? Victoia is also a nice counterbalance to The Sun magazine.

    It's so much better to get it out, Amusing. It heals faster.

    Some friendly, some fiendly, Popeye.

    Holy cow, DMG, has it really been 19 years since I told you my first corpse story? I remember your grandma's ordeal. What shame, the prisons we put ourselves into to protect the guilty.

    I still laugh when I think about it too, Mona. Now I'm thinking of donating my body. One day, a pre-med student will say, 'Look at those ovaries! Picture-perfect PCOS. I wonder how she ever got pregnant...'

    Life and death are cheek and jowl, aren't they, Schmoop? You should talk to Jo. She did hospice as well, and would like to get back to it someday. I've got a mortician student in my A&P. I'm thinking it might be interesting, and easier to get into..

    It didn't start really bubbling up for years, Maggie. I had my pat answers for 'Are you an only child?' which went from a simple 'yes' to a quick and clean explanation of my brother. All depended on who I was talking to.

    Isn't it great, Liv? Pure eye candy. I was so glad to see it come back.

    Hey midwesty! :-) You who escaped both the Midwest AND school!

    Thank you, Clowncar. One day I'll be as god as yo. EVERYBODY GO READ CLOWNCAR! And I've already had zombie-school nightmares. I'm bringing a club with me to lab. Oh and, EVERYBODY GO READ CLOWNCAR!

    Happy and sad. Cheek to jowl, Meno. Like life.
    I got to see some cadaver slides last night in Medical Terminology, from an art exhibit....Art of Life, I think? Anyway, they actually had one with its brain exposed, contemplating a waterfall. I laughed. Couldn't help it.

    Balance is key, Patches. Thank you. *hug*

    12:11 PM, January 23, 2008  
    OpenID wheelsonthebus wrote in a love letter...

    I did not know about your brother and I am sorry to hear it. I don't know how to respond to such a well-written but incredibly honest post. Except to say that I think if we never laughed at things for fear they could some day speak to our own personal tragedies, we would never laugh at all.

    1:10 PM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Clowncar wrote in a love letter...

    Oh please, ND. I struggle to be as god as yo someday.

    1:54 PM, January 23, 2008  
    Anonymous Rudi wrote in a love letter...

    I want to be as god as yo two.

    I missed reading you. Then you come back and I laugh, cry and am scared (and not by the cadaver stories) all in one post.

    Yup, par for the corse.


    8:33 PM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger sari wrote in a love letter...

    I was in premed long ago and far away and realized i just wasn't cut out for that sort of thing (the cadaver didn't bother me so much as the idea of having to do things to the living). Kudos to you for being one who is. Medicine in all it's forms is tough - you see so much (good and bad) and hopefully while you deal with it in your own way, you're compassionate towards your patients and help them with their way.

    1:24 PM, January 24, 2008  
    Blogger amusing wrote in a love letter...

    gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "just fartin' around..."

    which you are most certainly NOT doing with all the schoolwork!

    I'm here with an understanding ear whenver you need to vent, or if you need one more high five for the wahoo of success!

    You are awesome!

    9:51 PM, January 25, 2008  
    Blogger amusing wrote in a love letter...

    Oh, and by the way you mortician thinking people -- I am quite fascinated by the growing interest in "green burial" - sort of au natural with a pine box, no chemicals...

    and thoughts on why cadavers are mostly men -- as a woman, it gives me pause to donate my body because of jokes and abuses and objectification -- I know I'd be dead, but still, if I work so hard to avoid those things in life....

    9:57 PM, January 25, 2008  
    Blogger Mother of Invention wrote in a love letter...

    Thanks for sharing all your feelings about so many varied and personal things in one post. I'm glad I came to read it. You are indeed letting things go here and we are all honoured to be here for that. You are so obviously cut out for and empassioned by your present studies which is wonderful. I wish you all the best in this.

    The cadervers, I could NOT work with! My husband took me to "meet" his personal dead friend when he was in chiropractic college and I almost fainted but then at the last minute, changed that response to gag and barf!

    6:54 AM, January 26, 2008  
    Blogger Clowncar wrote in a love letter...

    hellooooo.... naaaancy..... come out and plaaaay....

    4:01 PM, February 07, 2008  
    Anonymous Rudi wrote in a love letter...

    I was thinking more along the lines of:

          Olly olly oxen free

    9:49 PM, February 07, 2008  
    Blogger amusing wrote in a love letter...

    So, I know you're busy with school and all, but um... well... er... we're all wondering -- are you hosting the Aquarius party this year? Cuz I'm sitting here with my party hat on.

    10:07 PM, February 09, 2008  
    Blogger Stucco wrote in a love letter...

    I need a new post now please. Kthxbai

    12:42 PM, February 10, 2008  
    Blogger Irrelephant wrote in a love letter...

    Hey--Happy Birthday a day late, Nancypants! *big birthday hugs*

    And I second Stucco--more posts please!

    7:30 PM, February 10, 2008  
    Anonymous Rudi wrote in a love letter...

    Hmmm, we were pants-less on her birthday. That could be easily misinterpreted.

    10:09 AM, February 11, 2008  
    Blogger Gordo wrote in a love letter...

    Sorry to do this here, Nancypants(!), but I can't send you a bunch of beer ads if I don't have an email address for ya ... :-(

    12:19 PM, February 11, 2008  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Thanks, Emily. My life's motto is to the tune of Dory the Fish, "Just keep laughing, just keep laughing, laughing, laughing..."

    No, after YOU Clowncar.... ;-)

    Rudi, you can only be as god as yo two IF YOU START A FUCKING BLOG! Just sayin'. I'm glad you missed me. :-) And I bow to your expert language skills. Now blog, dammit.

    Oh, I'm with you Sari; the living are scarier than the dead. The thought of screwing up on someone keeps me awake at night.

    Thanks, Amusing. *hug* I am so buried, as the back of posts make obvious. I am all for a green burial...but then again there's the appeal to donate my body to science now. Because I like the idea of hovering over it and laughing along with the pre-meds who are making fun of my lack of boobage. Then of course I'd send a scalpel flying across the room, but it's all in good fun!

    Thanks, MOI. It helps to write about this stuff. I don't blame you for the's um, intense to say the least.


    I'm heading back to can't catch me!!

    I, uh, guess I'm not hosting the, um, party this year. *sigh* I can't even be social online. How pathetic is that? Happy birthday though, my beautiful tiara'ed friend.

    Working on it Stucco. The bodies are piling up.

    Thanks, Ir! *big hugs back* I'm working on it!

    Heh. He heh heheh...

    You've got it now, Gordo. Send away! :-)

    10:12 PM, February 14, 2008  
    Blogger amusing wrote in a love letter...

    Happy Birthday, you! Another place was set in your honor at a far-away table, though complete with a cup of tea and baked good this time....

    10:04 AM, February 16, 2008  
    OpenID Meredith wrote in a love letter...

    What the.... I go away for a few months and now you're hanging with cadavers!?
    I've got some reading to do!

    5:03 PM, February 22, 2008  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Awww, Amusing! *hug*

    Missed you too, Mer! How's kicks?

    6:56 PM, February 23, 2008  

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