Since writing “There’s a Blog in My Eye” posts for five months I haven’t missed any self-imposed weekend deadlines. But CSB chaos is churning for attention. So, this week’s blog is short: I have an appropriate busyness riddle for you that relative Jeanine Knowlton passed on. She works for a Massachusetts state legislator and knows the meaning of craziness. See if you can decipher the riddle before viewing the answer at the bottom. Have a great week, get some rest, and do something fun!
Here is the situation:
You are on a horse, galloping at a constant speed.
On your right side is a sharp drop-off.
On your left side is an elephant traveling at the same speed as you.
Directly in front of you is a hopping kangaroo and your horse is unable
to overtake it.
Behind you is a lion running at the same speed as you and the kangaroo.
What must you do to get out of this highly dangerous situation?
Think logically before you track down for the answer below.
Answer: Quietly get off the merry-go-round and go home! (author unknown)
My son and his family live 35 minutes from us. The hospital they had chosen for the birth of their third baby was also a half-hour away. It was five days to due date, and my daughter-in-law was dilated 3 cm. She was uncomfortable but had no regular contractions. Her husband had a 24-hour paramedic shift, far from the home front. We all agreed it was prudent for La Familia to stay at Grandpa and Grandma’s house—15 minutes from the hospital. Who would have guess the baby would desire Grandma’s carpet.
I said goodnight to the mother-to-be at 10 pm. Close to midnight I heard her weakly calling my name from the basement stairs: “Cindy, my water has broken.”
I peered down at her from the stairs’ railing: “Okay, I’ll hurry and get dressed.”
My husband and I had a quick conversation about who would go to the hospital and who would stay home with the other children. No one was eager to get into the car.
I found my daughter-in-law at the top of the stairs, lying on the floor. She had crawled up!
“Ouch, ouch, ow.”
“Can you get up?” I said, hoping.
“I don’t think so. I think the baby is coming?”
“Could we help you into the car or should I call 911?”
“Call 911,” she said, resignedly.
I got on the phone with the dispatcher and explained the situation. She asked the tortuous questions. “Who was I? Where was the mother-to-be? How far along?” And finally the liberating statement that for a second made me feel good: “The ambulance is on the way.”
But then the 911 lady ruined my relief: “Has the baby crowned?”
“I don’t know.” I muttered dumbfounded. “Just a minute.”
My daughter-in-law and I quickly removed her pants. Surveying her, I reported into the phone, “No.”
I realized it might be good to get a blanket. With phone in hand, I ran to grab the comforter from the master bedroom. My husband had already gotten an orange sofa pillow. I was totally unaware of him.
As I tucked the comforter awkwardly under her I freaked out into the phone: “She is crowning! I see the head!”
My daughter-in-law pleaded. “I want to push. Where is the ambulance?”
“Don’t push!” I said firmly. “The ambulance is almost here.”
The dispatcher said something like I should gently press my fingers on the crown to keep the baby in. I had no idea how to do that! I tried halfheartedly, but decided I did not want to hurt the baby’s head.
I did want to run to the kitchen sink and sterilize my hands if I needed to catch the baby. But I couldn’t leave. I was sitting on the floor with my legs apart and hands open under my daughter-in-law’s legs.
“Hold on!” I pleaded. “I see the ambulance lights!”
At this point, husband was outside moving a car and flagging the fire truck and ambulance, the C Shift team of Colorado Springs’ Fire Station 16. God bless them!
My daughter-in-law raised her head toward the window, “I see the lights. Oh, this hurts!”
A smiling firefighter–Sue Richardson–led the emergency team of six through our front door. She looked like an angel! Gladly, I hopped up to let her take my spot on the floor.
“We are so glad to see you!”
In one second Firefighter Richardson announced, “Okay, we are going to deliver a baby here. Get me the equipment.”
Quickly, I set down the phone (never saying good-bye) and moved behind my daughter-in-law’s head, holding her hand. “You are doing great! It’s going to be all right.”
During this chaos, cats Sergeant Major and Speckles, at different times, swaggered into the crowd. “Could you remove the cat, please,” an irritated someone requested twice. Husband immediately was on it.
Sue put on blue gloves and laid out some flimsy, sterilized, paper. Assisting her were firefighters Andy Chavez, Steve Jankowski and Vance Clear, as well as AMR paramedics Brittany Via and Sean Keating.
“Okay, push,” Sue said.
My daughter-in-law grimaced and did one push and relaxed.
“Good,” said Sue. “Okay, again.”
“This time she pushed a little harder and at 12:09 a.m., out came a slippery,
perfectly formed baby: 20 inches long and over seven pounds.
“She’s beautiful! You did great!” I cried, marveling at new life and our unusual circumstances. Who knows! This little girl could be the next U.S. president born at home!
Sue and Brittany clamped the umbilical chord and wrapped our new family member in a blanket. The baby made some gasping sounds. Brittany and Sean used a syringe to clear the mouth and check vitals. Quickly, there was a small, solid cry. Already, a little mouth was rooting to nurse and her hand was moving to her face. Hearing my voice as I peered at her, she even tried to open her eyes, but then the camera flashed. She really was a beauty, but her face was so purple. Later, I learned the bruising resulted from coming out of the birth canal so fast—not uncommon. But at the time I nervously wanted to rush her to the hospital. The calm crew was just doing their routine; checking for vital signs and reassuring us.
Mom held baby for a moment and phoned “Daddy” with the good news. We learned he had graduated as a paramedic with Brittany and Sean, just nine months earlier. Sean even texted him to tell him he was on this call.
Before we could head to the hospital the placenta also had to arrive—it took about 20 minutes. They called it at 12:29 a.m. During the wait, my husband and I took turns holding our granddaughter and snapping photos.
I went to the bathroom, knowing I might not get a chance at the hospital. Here was a quiet moment. I recalled holding my other two grandchildren for the first time and being able to pray a blessing over each of them. This birth was different. There just wasn’t enough time to piece together any sensible words. An official grandmother’s blessing would have to wait. “Lord, all I can think of is the song, ‘I’m a little teapot, short and stout, here is my handle, here is my spout.’”
Crazy? Yes! I felt like I was having an out of body experience. Later, my daughter-in-law told her mom by phone: “Yeah, Cindy was like super woman.” That was the best compliment. One never knows how one will respond in an emergency.
At the hospital, all went well. I was a little sad the nurse had to ask admission questions like, “Has anyone in your household threatened you physically or verbally? Are you suicidal or depressed? Do you smoke, drink or take drugs? What form of birth control do you plan to use?” It seemed wrong that harsher possibilities were already tainting an atmosphere of joy for this new life.
Baby and Mom were given matching ID bracelets, and Baby Boyll received her first jewelry, a bright green ankle bracelet, coded to a computerized lock down if someone tried to whisk her away. The nurse reassured that this had not happened in the many years she had been there.
Next, I was able to watch my granddaughter receive her first bath in the nurse’s nursery. “They don’t like baths,” warned Nurse Kathleen. She checked all the vitals as baby lay sleeping peacefully on her back under a heat lamp. Also, under heat lights were two little boys, snoozing away. These three newborns were as fresh as they could be! I marveled that they looked so similar with their diapered baby bodies and clamped belly buttons. Yet, they were quite different in head shape, hair, fingers, feet, DNA. What bundles of potentiality!
Our baby protested her washcloth scrub on the face, under her armpits, all over. Her baby hair was given its first shampoo. She was screaming robustly. And then the nurse put her in a pink tub of warm water to rinse her off. Immediately baby was quiet—ah, familiar, warm wetness. The nurse bundled her in sleeper and blanket, and crowned her head with a pink crocheted cap. After this work out, the little one snoozed in her crib on wheels. We rolled her back to room 3037.
I told my daughter-in-law to get some rest if she could. She had done great. Then I drove home at 5 am as the sun began to shine. It was a brand new day, and a beautiful new person lived in the world. Life was extra good!
Although slam poetry has been around for over three decades, I didn’t know what this genre was until last week. Then I heard five talented poets of “Hear, Here!” Colorado Springs present their work before they competed in this week’s 2015 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. [A YouTube sample of slam poetry is at the bottom of this blog.]
The Urban Dictionary describes slam poetry as: “A type of poetry expressing a person’s personal story and/or struggle usually in an intensely emotional style. Very powerful, sincere, and moving.” The “slam” part is that poets recite their work under a time clock and are judged by an audience, receiving points for creativity and presentation. If audience members appreciate what they hear they stomp, snap fingers, shout out, rub their hands together, etc. The experience is not far from the gospel audiences of “Preach it, Brother!” and “Amen!” It also may have some roots in the 1950s “Beat Generation” writers.
Slam poetry is a long distance from sixties poet Rod McKuen, who died this past January at age 81. Long ago, he was nominated for a Pulitzer and two Academy Awards. For perspective, you may want to Google his Grammy award-winning
album: “Lonesome Cities” and that poem “My Friend The Sea,” recited over music, wave crashing, and bird song. Ah, these works are so gentle and melancholy. Slam Poetry is harder on the listener, passionately taking up social injustices like race and sex discrimination, and personal pains like bulimia, depression, self-identity. There are some poetry prompts that offer humor: “What is a Nerd?” Generally, however, the poems offer a stinging social point.
Slam poets bare their souls under the spotlight. Sometimes they write and present in teams. Their rhetoric is powerful, fast and flowing, witty, passionate. Their poems are full of long sentences and big words (pronounced correctly)! A listener has to pay attention, and this can feel like work, especially if one wants to understand. Although the poet usually stands in one spot, he or she creates a theatrical presence with gestures and voice inflections. (Slam poets joke about inadvertently spitting on the audience, so if you attend a slam, don’t sit on the front row.)
At least part of the success of slam poetry is that a poet’s secrets are spoken out loud, empowering the secret keeper. The slam audience is encouraged to be a safe place for the poet to speak. I am not convinced poets with a message outside politically correct boxes would feel as welcomed with the open mic. After all, points are awarded by audience members. Introvert talents wouldn’t shine either using this medium. But the venue obviously works for performing writers, who also are poets.
For a sample of the genre, I offer you Canadian dancer/poet Sabrina Benaim’s poem, “Explaining My Depression to My Mother.” It’s a heartbreaking poem, but it shines in defining depression. Ms. Benaim’s poem is transcribed below, taken from her website at https://shesaiddig.wordpress.com. Following the transcription is her YouTube presentation.
“Explaining My Depression to My Mother”
By Sabrina Benaim
Explaining my depression to my mother–a conversation.
Mom, my depression is a shape shifter. One day it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear; the next, it’s the bear. On those days I play dead until the bear leaves me alone! I call the bad days “the dark days.”
Mom says, “Try lighting candles.”
When I see a candle, I see the flesh of a church; the flicker of a flame; sparks of a memory, younger than noon. I am standing beside her open casket. It is the moment I learn every person I ever come to know will someday die. Besides Mom, I’m not afraid of the dark. Perhaps, that’s part of the problem.
Mom says, “I thought the problem was that you can’t get out of bed.”
I can’t! Anxiety holds me a hostage inside of my house, inside of my head.
Mom says, “Where did anxiety come from?”
Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out of town–depression felt obligated to bring to the party. Mom, I am the party! Only, I am a party I don’t want to be at.
Mom says, “Why don’t you try going to actual parties–see your friends?”
Sure, I make plans. I make plans, but I don’t wanna go. I make plans because I know I should want to go. I know sometimes I would have wanted to go. It’s just not that much fun having fun, when you don’t wanna have fun, Mom!
You see, Mom, each night, insomnia sweeps me up in his arms, dips me in the kitchen in the small glow of the stove light. Insomnia has this romantic way of making the moon feel like perfect company.
Mom says, “Try counting sheep.”
But my mind can only count reasons to stay awake. So I go for walks, but my stuttering kneecaps clank like silver spoons, held in strong arms with loose wrists; they ring in my ears like clumsy church bells, reminding me I am sleep-walking on an ocean of happiness I cannot baptize myself in!
Mom says, “Happy is a decision.”
But my happy is as hollow as a pinpricked egg! My happy is a high fever that will break!
Mom says I am so good at making something out of nothing, and then flat out asks me if I’m afraid of dying.
No! I am afraid of living! Mom, I am lonely! I think I learned how when Dad left: how to turn the anger into lonely, the lonely into busy. So when I tell you, “I’ve been super busy lately,” I mean I’ve been falling asleep watching Sports Center on the couch to avoid confronting the empty side of my bed, but my depression always drags me back to my bed until my bones are the forgotten fossils of a skeleton sunken city–my mouth a boneyard of teeth, broken from biting down on themselves! The hollow auditorium of my chest swoons with echoes of a heartbeat, but I am a careless tourist here.