Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Love You, Dear CPAP

And here I am again,
In love with another machine, incapable of feeling.
But I don't care - you take my breath away and quickly give it back again.
You have given me new life!
You have given me back my dreams!
I wake refreshed, and leave you for the day
But I will always sleep with you, my love.

Connected, as we are,
My nose to your hose.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Painting

I've been teasing my friend, Will, for years about my painting.  He's an incredible artist.  Beautiful, sensitive, gentle, passionate and very talented.  He'll call and the first thing and last thing I ask is always, "So how's my painting coming along?"  He always makes some excuse.  He once called me demanding, pushy and consuming.  We laugh about that.  He says he doesn't remember saying it.  And I call him Will, just to tick him off.  His name is Bill.

Will died last week. 

That is not supposed to happen.  Even though you've been warning me that you were dying, I just didn't believe you.  I mean, I knew you really weren't painting a picture for me and as long as I didn't have my painting, I just didn't think you'd leave me. 

I always said things like, "We're all dying.  Stop talking about it."  Because I'm selfish and I couldn't bear it.  I am so sorry, Will.  I wish I'd have listened better.

Death of loved ones is always a kick in the pants.  But Will, this has rolled over me like a tank.  I will write something original for you. You deserve at least that, even though I have a blank wall in my bedroom awaiting a painting that will never come.

But for now my friend, I'll let James Taylor do the talkin' for me.  I know you'll understand.

     The sun is surely sinking down, but the moon is slowly rising.
     So this old world must still be spinning 'round and I still love you.
     So close your eyes.  You can close your eyes, it's all right.

     I don't know no love songs, I can't sing the blues anymore.
     Oh, but I can sing this song
     And I will sing this song now you're gone.

I hope your new adventure is even more wondrous than your last.  I'll meet you in the ether, Darlin'.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Equinox

5:04 is going to come pretty ding dang early in the morning.  But that's when I need to be awake, alert, and singing in the season. 

It's the Equinox, Babies!  I know, it will still be the Equinox even if I don't sing it in, but I want to make sure that Autumn knows how very, very welcome She is.  Bring on the crisp, cool air.  Bring on the bright blue days.  I miss these days in the Midwest when we can actually feel that first bite of cold air.  Out with the sauna air, in with the breathable air. 

The Autumnal Equinox is also a time to pray for peace.  I always feel so helpless in the face of all the war and unrest in the world, but the Equinox is a time to remember that I can be peace.  We can be joy.

I remember as a child raking mountains of bright colored leaves in Central Illinois, running and jumping into them. Hiding and popping out to "scare" my cooperative neighbors, Dorothy and Pud as they walked by. I remember the smell and the feel of the leaves and being able to see the strong structure of the naked trees. I remember a green corduroy jacket with plaid flannel lining, and slippery bits and earthy smell of carved bits of pumpkin.  Only Autumn joy and, in spite of my attempt to scare my friends, Autumn peace.

It's not quite time here in South Carolina to rake leaves yet.  I don't actually plan to rake them anyway.  I'll just let them be, no doubt to the dismay of my neighbors who all still believe burning them is a good thing to do.  But this Autumn I resolve to not be angry about that.  I will lead by peaceful example. 

And if any of my neighbors are awake at 5:04 a.m.  they may hear me singing Autumn in.
 (what the heck, they already know I'm nuts)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

South Carolina Report

State fla...I have lived in South Carolina now for three years and 49 days.  Here is my report:

For the most part, south Carolinians speak Southern, which is a language my Illinois English teacher, Miss Allison, would neither recognize or approve.  The town of Westminster is pronounced Westminister, Boiling Springs is called  Bowlin' Sprangs, and Horry County is understandably pronounced Orry County.

A South Carolinian will say "Bless your heart," when what she means is "You disgust me."  They say things such as "I'm fiddin' to carry Mama to the church suppah and fixer a plate to carry home.  She ain't upta stayin', bless her heart. I swan that woman can pitch a fit! S'about to get on my last nerve, Hon."   That bit of conversation would take about twelve minutes. 

What they call "tea" here is a syrupy sweet iced beverage that will rot your teeth within three minutes of drinking it.  One would assume dentists could make a lot of money here, but evidently, they don't.

I live in the Upstate, which is actually the northwest corner of the state.  Due West, SC is southeast of here.  Central is in the very northwest corner of the state and Centerville is in the northeast corner.  West Union is 80 miles as the crow flies west of Union.  With the very same crow flying, Ten Mile is about 211 miles from Six Mile.

North Carolina is to our north.  The only thing that separates South Carolina from Alabama is Georgia, a fact which scares me a lot.  The state has magnificent beaches, a touch of mountains and an historic ancient swampland. 

Flora and Fauna
South Carolina is the Palmetto State.  Palmettos are palm trees that are neither tall nor pretty.  While there are cute little lizards called skinks that are sometimes electric blue, there are also little scorpions, fire ants and crunchy grass, which makes going barefoot rather dangerous. The state also has bamboo, cacti and a great diversity of hard and soft wood trees.  There used to be a lot of cotton grown here, but that was before. . . you know. . . and everything was ruined.  I'm not sure why they don't start cropping and milling bamboo instead of trying to get rid of it, but I think it's because it might interrupt the pouting over. . . . you know.

The plants and wildlife are plentiful and diverse which is amazing since things have to grow in red clay instead of black dirt.

Religion here is quite diverse as well.  There are White Baptists, White Southern Baptists, White Pentacostals, White Independent Baptists, Black Baptists, Black Southern Baptists, Black Pentacostals,  Black Independent Baptists, and two Greek Orthodox Churches that throw a good festival each fall.

A lot of hunting and fishing goes on in South Carolina.  People are especially encouraged to hunt wild boars, which are dangerous, nasty, invasive critters set on taking vengeance on human kind for every hog factory in the country. South Carolinians invented shagging.  No, not that. . . . the dance.  Mostly people go to their church picnics, potlucks, revivals, and Bible study groups if they are not drinking, watching football or shagging.

South Carolina has hurricanes and heat.  Plenty of both. Three of the four seasons here are summer and winter lasts 2 weeks.  South Carolinians sweat more than the average annual rainfall in New Hampshire. Even Southern Ladies sweat, though it is referred to as glowing. 

Generally this is something that South Carolinians like to handle themselves.  I'm not 100% certain, but I think it's illegal to have a house without at least one gun.  It's also highly recommended that pickup trucks and cars be equipped with a small gun that will fit handily in the glove compartment.  Vehicles usually come with a confederate flag on them somewhere.  Socially liberal drivers may add a bumper sticker that says, "It's Heritage, not Hate."

The state vegetable is collard greens.  (Note to Yankees:  collard, not colored.) These are large, dense, dark green leaves that are wonderful sauteed in some olive oil with garlic and green onion, but any South Carolinian will tell you that is not the way it's done.  Here they boil any flavor out of them with some fat back and sugar.  They also boil peanuts here.  I have no idea why.  The average Sunday supper is something like fried pork chops, fried okra, mashed potatoes and gravy, grits and gravy, macaroni and cheese and sweet tea.  If you're lucky some sweet potato pie.  30.9% of adult South Carolinians are obese. 

South Carolina was the first proud state to secede from the Union when ruthless Yankees laid siege to Fort Sumter.  This Southern whooping of Yankee butt led to the War of Northern Aggression, sometimes referred to as That Recent Unpleasantness. If you don't drawl, you refer to it here as. . . you know.
People here generally don't know that the Civil War is over or that the North won.  Of course, the state is ranked 48th in high school graduation rate, so perhaps most people don't actually get to take a history class. 

The Big Question
It's a free country, contrary to some local beliefs, and I could choose to live elsewhere.  After all, the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee is that Damn Yankees move here.

Despite my obvious distaste for much of South Carolina - and please note I didn't even touch on politics - I've met some nice folk down heah. Of course, if this blog gets read by many here, I'm sure I'll have offers to be escorted to the Mason-Dixon Line. My co-workers are gracious, patient people who usually tolerate my Yankeeness.  I love my little house in the woods, the flowers and birds, the ocean and the tiny bit of the Appalachian range that dips into the state. I love the real, honest hospitality I've received when visiting a few churches.  And now that I speak fluent Southern, I enjoy the impromptu conversations with total strangers.  Jesus help me, I've even learned to love cheesy grits.

Will I stay here forever?  The thought makes me about as comfortable as a long-tailed cat on a porch full of rockers.  But I sho nuff ain't gettin' any youngah, so who knows?  Bless my heart.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Love Song to Leonard Cohen

It would certainly help if you were familiar with some Leonard Cohen lyrics. Actually, I'm hopeing that he'll read this and realize that all his life I'M what he's been missing. Of course, it will break Eric Clapton's heart when that happens, but hey, Eric's had his turn with me. Now it's Leonard's lucky day.

Look at me, Leonard, when I’m naked in my way
Not for one last time, with filmed vision every day.
Look upon me tenderly and look upon me long
And you’ll know that I’m half crazy just because of a few songs.

You hurt me with democracy
And your silky smooth soft honesty
(Using lint the gaps to fill in
From Buddha, Christ or Dylan
Mix it in with innate wisdom
You don’t even know you own)

But it’s ok and it is righteous
You are speaking to the rest of us
Your eyes and voice I feel so very deep.
And I’ll love you by the river, in the water and the reeds
Until we’re both swept under by the passion of our deeds
Some holy dove above us moves
What water isn’t holy, too?
And all the breaths we’ll breathe are now so few.
I’m sorry that we didn’t meet ‘fore my youth and beauty fleeted
I’m nothing if not a muse you never needed.

Becoming a New Sleeping Woman

I've been feeling as if I've been dragged behind a '73 Pinto with a bad exhaust system over gravel roads every night.  So I went to see Dougie and I told him it was hypothyroidism.  Sure, he's a doctor but I looked it up online. And besides I attended Sister Mary Imabitch's Institution for Emotionally Unstable Nursing Students less than a million years ago.

But that Dougie, he's wise beyond his years. "Do you snore?" he asked.
"Evidently about three husbands worth," I replied.
 He sent me to have a sleep study even though I told him I sleep all the time.  I even fell asleep on the toilet at work. Twice. Not good, really. Sleep study.  How tough can that be?  You go to the hospital and let them watch you while you sleep.  Piece of cake, right? 

So I arrived at the appointed hour and two people stuck 573 electrodes on my head and body.  The ones in my hair were adhered with a combination of Super Glue and Vaseline, and evidently my skin was too smooth so they had to rough it up with a wood rasp before rubbing it with alcohol in order to get the electrodes to stick to my legs, arms and chest.  Then they attached sensors around my eyes and under my nose and basically any place they could find to attach sensors.  Then they pointed out the camera that they'd be watching me with all night.  Then they said, "Goodnight. Sleep well."

One gets really tired being dragged around by a toxin belching Ford night after night, so I went to sleep in spite of all that, until I heard a very loud, deep voice coming from the air above me.

"Miss Campbell."

I immediately came to a sitting position, wires and all. "You can call me Fay, God."

"Miss Campbell, sleep on your back."

I think I usually begin the night on my side, but hey when God tells you to sleep on your back, whatcha gonna do?  I rolled over.  By my reckoning it was about every two seconds that this repeated. Eventually I heard, "Miss Campbell!"  God sounded a bit angry and I wasn't all that happy with him, either.  "Sleep on your back.  You stop breathing when you sleep on your back."

Say what? I thought you wanted me to breathe.  I began to suspect this wasn't God at all.  I rolled over.  Two seconds later. . . "Miss Campbell!  Damnit all anyway, I told you to sleep on your flipping back, now roll over before I come in there and start ripping those electrodes outta your hair!"

That last bit may not be an exact quote, but it had the same tone and intent.  I rolled over.  Again.

The result of the test was that I roused an average of 18.8 times per hour.  Well, duh.  Also I stopped breathing 124 times that night, but honestly, when God starts shouting you awake, I think it's a natural response. The average time of not breathing was 16 seconds and the longest was 47 seconds.  Excuse me?  I can't hold my breath for 47 seconds.  I tried after I read the report.  Couldn't I get some drain bamage from not breathing all those seconds?  Why didn't the technicians or God or whoever rush in and give me some oxygen or something?  

But the good news is, now I get to wear a Darth Vadar type mask at night now.  The mask is attached to a hose which is attached to a pump that forces air into my mouth and nose.  It also has a humidifier so my dainty little mucous membranes don't dry out.  I mean, we wouldn't want this to be uncomfortable.  There is a setting which will cause the pressure to sneak up on me over 20 minutes.  The machine goes from 2 to 16 and evidently I need 16 to make sure I breathe.  This is sort of like sticking the hose you use to fill your flat tires into your mouth and breathing naturally.  There is a learning curve.  And the coolest part is there is a little computer chip that allows my doctor and the insurance company (which actually runs the world) to know when I go to bed, how many times I get up to pee, how often I stop breathing, etc.  How comforting is that! 

But the very best news is that my pulmonologist told me I'd be a new woman once I started using this machine regularly.  She didn't say who. So I told Dougie, who is a genius, a miracle worker, and a really cool guy no matter what his wife says, that I wanted to be a 30 year old, happy, healthy, slim woman with long heavy black hair, green eyes, and the IQ I actually had when I was 30.  He said he'd see what he can do.  I'm psyched!