dragonflies

Crash, Bang, Boom

ERnurse“We went like this, he went like that. I said to Hollywood, ‘Where’d he go?'”
Hollywood says, “Where’d who go?”
~ Top Gun (1986)

Perfect quote. It’s how I felt. And a little giggle-shoutout to my sister…

Now then, because I twittered the world. Because I have friends and family that will ask. Because I don’t want to repeat it over and over like a drunk that only knows one joke… here’s what happened.

For those close by, it was at the section of Haines road where you can cross from Ollies to Big K. I was leaving Ollies parking lot heading to Big K, my last chance for a swimming pool this late in the season.

See, it’s still hot here. My Wisconsin blood requires a kiddie pool. There was a girlchild and a cat and a kiddie pool the previous weekend. Girl child feels bad. Cat won the battle. Kiddie pool deflated and dumped it’s water in under a minute. It was impressive, but sad, because I heart my kiddie pool and it was like watching the last bit of water in the desert dry up in front of your eyes. I had checked locally at the Rite Aid but they only had a bigger one with a pump and everything. I’m a simple girl. Just give me an inflatable pool I can sit in with the boy and an umbrella drink or play in with all the kids. So I was scrounging the stores in York after work. But summer goodies have all been replaced by school supplies and the beginnings of Halloween (yay!).

Big K was my last hope in York. No one in York even had pools left, let alone choices.

I had initially thought to turn right onto Haines and then left at the bank and go around that way, not believing I’d be able to get straight across the traffic. But there was no traffic. I wasn’t texting. I wasn’t lighting a cigarette or fiddling with the radio. I was very aware that it was a dangerous intersection and I was taking great precautions. Which just makes me all the more pissed off about the whole thing. The eastbound lane was full of stopped traffic for the light. The westbound was completely empty. I looked both directions, double checked, and then the driver that was stopped right before the Big K entrance and I did that driver-to-driver mouthing, hand signals thing and she waved me across—aware that I was there and wanted to go that direction. I looked both ways again. Especially scanning left because that traffic would be moving if there was any. That was the danger.

I thought.

All clear, I pulled out. I was going about 4 miles an hour and I heard the woman who had waved me honk. She had seen the bat out of hell. I don’t know for sure if he just came flying down the road, from around a corner, or from the back of the stopped line of cars, thinking he’d pass everyone. But he was flying, about 45 I would guess. I had started to turn in my seat to look back at the peripheral blur when I got the jolt. He hit the back passenger corner, slammed me diagonal, and then slid along me and pushed me across into the wrong Big K driveway. I did a zig and a zag to avoid the two vehicles on either side of the driveway, still waiting for their light to turn—thanks for the cone course, dad! And I stopped. A few thoughts ran through my head and then auto pilot took over. I pulled into Big K and turned off the truck. I sat there for a moment and made sure I was breathing. Didn’t feel hurt, didn’t taste blood, and got out.

A van pulled up behind me with two women in it. The blur had been blue, this was gold. I looked around for the blue but saw nothing. The girls in the van had already written down their info by the time I got to their window. Volunteer witnesses that saw the whole thing—score. I was shaking horribly. I now completely understand the “like a leaf” and “out of my shoes” expressions. She asked if I smoked. I said yes. She offered one. I laughed and declined. And we waited a moment for the blur blue to come back. I imagine he had been going fast enough that he had to continue to the intersection and turn around.

My back bumper corner is shredded in a twisted metal/plastic tiger clawed manner. There’s a lovely dent above the wheel well. And a contact scrap from the corner up to the door. Not bad really. Wisconsin trucks are build frozen tundra tough, apparently. He, however, had no front bumper. He had to go fetch it from the road. Meanwhile I had pulled out my camera and started taking pictures. My damage, his license plate, etc. When he put the bumper on the grass, my outside voice kicked in.

“Dead center on the bumper, huh? What lane were you in exactly?”

Silence.

“Ohhh… maroon paint from the crunch in the middle all the way to the end. Yeah, that’s mine. Thanks”

Silence.

I was calm, but I was angry. He finally asked if I was ok. I asked for all his info and his first born. My favorite of the lines he managed to get out of his mouth, “It’s my mom’s truck.” Really? He looked to be mid to late 20s. Time to move out, hon. Followed by the revelation that he doesn’t have insurance information and had to call for daddy’s. While we waited for the police, I called the Big K from the parking lot. No pools. Damn it. I didn’t even have to be here. I could have gone home. I… I… argh! Mr. Friendly showed up. Took info from both of us. And everyone went away.

My back and arm were sore. I figured it was just stress and it would go away once I calmed down and decided to sleep on it.

It didn’t. The doc didn’t have room to see me and suggested the hospital. So we had an adventure in the ER friday. And by friday, I mean all damn day friday. I hate ERs. They are not quick. The word Emergency should be removed.

But the ER was a good time. My nurse had a dragonfly tattoo on her wrist (see image). I told her my back hurt, she told me to take off my clothes. I snapped, “I want dinner first.” And she laughed. She later caved when I begged to look inside the locked cart labeled “vascular access,” which is so going to be a title for something, but wouldn’t let me take pictures of its contents. My doctor was about 12 but good. Hippie said she was hiding a southern accent. I didn’t hear it. And the xray tech, 14 pictures later, completely understood the exposed gown issue with no bra and offered me an upgraded version that actually covered me while they trekked me through the rat maze of hospital hallways.

There are no broken bones. The back and neck are fine. But the arm is a problem. From shoulder to fingertip it hurts. And by hurts I mean like hell. It’s hurt to type without pain meds. With pain meds I’m afraid to type. Hippie and the boss think I should. They think Kelli Bizarro fiction would be entertaining. Maybe I will later. Regardless, a writer with a painful arm is a bad thing. Very bad thing. From my elbow down is sharp pain, radiating across my wrist and up to the first two fingers, with a pinpoint of severe pain on the underside of my wrist. Numbness on the pinky side of my hand and a shoulder that feels like it lost a slug-bug war also suck. And I have petechiae all over my hand/wrist, trailing and fading it’s way up to my shoulder.

The registration nurse had a funny line that made Hippie and I both giggle. “Are you a writer?” Yeah. “Because you’re very precise with your descriptions. It’s helpful.”

The assumption right now is that I slammed into the door/window when I got the initial hit/jolt. If you pretend you’re holding the steering wheel and twist to look over your right shoulder, your elbow automatically comes up a little. The twist is what tweaked my back for a day—but it’s just sore, not painful. I don’t remember, it’s just a blur, but we’re guessing that I slammed that elbow and subsequently rolled up and hit the shoulder, bruising everything there. The petechiae and wrist are most likely from gripping the wheel hard while getting slammed, a reflexive “bracing for impact” the doc said. The doc is calling is nerve pain, not damage right now. She believes that it’s caused from bone and muscle swelling—and I am thinking positively and agreeing with her. So I have steroids for bone swelling, muscle relaxants to chill them out, and vicodin to cover the pain. In five days the swelling will be down and the nerves won’t have pressure on them and life will be grand.

Or a little boy I know, driving mommy’s truck with daddy’s insurance, is going to wish he hadn’t been in such a damn hurry.

Apparently, I’m quite entertaining on the muscle relaxants. Hippie’s been playing truth or dare and asking all kinds of things I wouldn’t necessarily answer normally. It’s like evil truth serum and I feel all jacked out on it. I refused to let this interrupt pre-planned family stuff, so we went to the surreal National Aquarium in Baltimore on Saturday (where out of the 200+ pics I took, the camera was fine but I was blurry and had to delete over half of them) and then school shopping Sunday, where I danced to store muzak and continued to break into lyricspeak whenever someone says something that vaguely reminds me of a song.

And yes, I did get a kiddie pool. When I got home from the initial accident, I had the hippie drive to the local Rite Aid and we got the super pool. Complete with air filter. Clearanced out for $49—score. The kids have played marco polo and been swimming nonstop. I’ve been in it once.

*please forgive any mistakes. this blog has been written over the course of three drug-induced days. occasionally written and/or editing while lucid…

Tastes like Summer

dreamsicleA single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.
— St. Francis of Assisi

I love dreamsicles. No, really, you need to understand… I turn into a twelve-year-old when I hear the ice cream truck. I jump up and down and run to find my wallet or the hippie’s pocket, bat my eyelashes, and smirk like a kid that knows what they’re getting for Christmas. And every time the ice cream truck stops, someone brings me back a dreamsicle. They don’t ask what I want. They know. Because I love dreamsicles.

Because they taste like summer.

I heart Ra in general. Sunshine is a good thing. It makes your soul smile and your skin tingle. But if you zero in on the generality of sunshine and just consider summer… well, that’s where I went while savoring the last dreamsicle I had.

I said it tasted like summer to whomever was standing there, and then I thought about that. What else tastes like summer? Better yet, what other senses bring summertime to my mind?

I hit that thought again at work during last week’s heat wave. As many of you know, I abhor shoes. I am barefoot whenever possible, even if it gets me yelled at by certain waitresses that will be missed at HFW this year (Nora!) or other people of supposed authority. As such, I was barefoot at work when I went out to get the mail. Walking across the parking lot was like walking on lava, but instead of cursing the heat, my mind traveled back to a summertime long ago.

When I was seven, we lived in Texas. Across from our apartment building was a giant field, then a 7-11. I was sent to get tomato paste. I don’t know why I remember it was tomato paste mom needed, but I do, because the mind and memory are weird like that. I have no idea what I learned in eighth grade history, but I know thirty-four years ago my mom needed tomato paste. And I was barefoot. And the parking lot of that 7-11 was like lava.

Pavement threatening to blister my feet feels like summer.

And then I remembered what I said about the dreamsicle and I wondered about the five senses of summer again. So I started thinking about it. Dreamsicles taste of it. Hot asphalt feels like it. What looks, sounds and smells of it?

Smell could be lilacs, but that’s cliché and more spring than summer. Bonfires? Perhaps. Because they remind me of parties at the point, burning tires, laughing with friends and sitting on the sand. Sound could easily be associated with the ice cream truck music, but that’s a little too close to the dreamsicle and each sense deserves its own trigger. A new summer sound would be cicadas. They’re loud and obnoxious and absolutely fascinating, if only because they’re still new. Perhaps next year that will sound like summer. This year, it’s too fresh and sound will have to settle for being… I don’t know. And I don’t have any idea what summer looks like to me. I’ll have to think about these things. Or rather, pay attention. Because I don’t believe I can just remember, or decide, what summer smells, looks or sounds like. Not with that same rush of warmth through my chest that the dreamsicle and asphalt brought to me. Not with that tickle in my mind that reminded me of childhood summers and the escapism brought with them. I think those things have to be experienced with an “Ah-ha” moment, where I become twelve again and declare “this” smells like summer.

Moments of declaration are a strange thing. In this case, a whimsical thing. Equating a sense to a season is just a fun exercise in silly at this point. But silly is good. It keeps you young. It makes you buy sidewalk chalk and blow bubbles in the house. I keeps your spirit high when stress wants to drag it down. And it helps you live the only life you’re going to get.

Summer is different now (sorry mom, I’m going there). Summer is warmer and lasts longer. It comes earlier and stays late, like a canadian trying to suck the most out of a three-day weekend. It brings fireflies by the droves and a night sky that doesn’t quite look right to me. It smells like tiki torches and feels like the cool water of a kiddie pool. Someday, I’ll figure out the other senses—by accident. Right now, I have a dreamsicle, that tastes just like summer.

Treading Water

drowning2And the sea grows
I close my eyes
Move slowly through drowning waves
Going away on a strange day

“A Strange Day” by The Cure

I had a dream yesterday. A strange dream. I was deep in clear blue water, swimming for the surface with everything I was worth. My lungs hurt. My eyes burned. And as I kicked and kicked, I seemed to be getting no closer to the elusive surface. I remember the thin trail of bubbles I tried to hold in. I remember a poetic reflection of the sun, broken, bent, as it sparkled through the blue around me. My arms felt like lead, my legs tingled. And then the reflection seemed to pull away from me. I wanted that ray of sunshine. I wanted to follow those bubbles. But I realized I was sinking. I had given up the fight. I was succumbing to the depths around me.

And then I gasped fresh air, sputtered and spit chlorine.

I was sitting in a bamboo lounge chair at the edge of a bottomless pool. In the water, I could see myself sinking. The fight gone. Deeper and deeper. I wanted to jump in and save myself, but before I could a hand grabbed my wrist.

“Sit.”

A man sat sipping an umbrella drink in a chair next to me. He had calm eyes and a soothing voice.

“But I need to save myself.” I couldn’t hear my words. I do not think I spoke out loud, but he answered me. Answered my thoughts, my unspoken questions.

“That is not you. You’re not drowning.” He took a long sip and stared at me, as if waiting for me to get it. “You’re right here.”

I looked at the pool. The figure was all but out of sight in the depths. Only the wrist reaching upward was still distinguishable in the light ripples of the chlorinated water. I could clearly see my dragonfly tattoo.

“No.” He turned my arm over so I could see my wrist. The tattoo in the water looked like the one I currently have in real life. But in my dream, the one on my wrist was different. The colors were swirled, highlights had been added, and tiny white flairs were scattered around the twin insects like cartoon fireflies.

“That was you.” He released my arm. “Now this is you.”

I was abruptly awoken with the feeling that I was babysitting, because the television had crying children on it. You gotta love what the mind does when you’re asleep. Changing scenes by outside influence. Waking you when you just want to sleep. When you want to finish the dream.

But I didn’t need to finish it.

I get it.

Apparently, I understood it subconsciously before I did consciously. Though even then, someone else had to say it out loud. I’m still me. But I’m a different me. I’m not drowning.

But I am treading water.

Beyond the metaphor that some of you may recognize, and the one that only I can see in that dream, there’s the reality of today. The drowning feeling. I just finished edits on one thing and got it turned in. I have to finish edits on the novel, write an article, write & polish a short, and finish another novel by the end of summer. It feels like a lot. It feels like too much when the words are working. I can understand that metaphorical drowning feeling as well. And I’m reminded of how my mother taught me to swim…

Mom carried me out to the ropes at the lake by my Nana’s old house. It was over my head, but she could stand just fine. She smiled at me. She kissed my forehead. And she dropped me. “Sink or swim.” I gulped water. I cried. But I didn’t sink. She didn’t drown me. She taught me to tread water.

My to-do list is not a bottomless pool. I will not sink. I will swim. I’ve been good at treading water since I was five years old—even though that’s not me any more. And by the end of summer, I’ll be a swimmer of Olympic caliber… regarding all the waterlogged metaphors in that dream.

Totems

I heart irony. I do. I’m not even being snarky. Though usually I prefer it when it’s in someone else’s chi, not mine. I had a completely different post for this morning—because it’s thursday, because it’s coffee talk—but as I walked outside with the laptop and coffee, and plopped onto my spot on the porch, I noticed a new friend. A dragonfly.

A dying dragonfly.

Now those that know me already see the irony. Those that don’t, well, I’m a big fan of dragonflies. Dragonflies and fireflies, my insect weaknesses… The only tattoo [so far] is two dragonflies with multiple meanings—strength, willpower, connections, colored for my children, and nicknamed “Faith” and “Fire”. [“Hope,” the purple one, is getting inked to look like a toe ring next] I have a journal with a dragonfly given to me by a dear friend [who I really need to call]. Another friend completely covered my world in dragonflies when I moved out last fall and left my ex-husband—dotting the apartment with stickers of my lovely little iridescent friends. Another friend saw one and took an amazing picture, thought of me, and gave me a new wallpaper for my phone. And my best friend gave me a silver dragonfly necklace, which hasn’t come off my neck since I opened the box. Dragonflies have always fascinated me. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that, growing up, I always saw them around water and I love me my bodies of water. Water = happy times, dragonflies were a part of that. They represent a ton of things in different cultures and beliefs. Their symbolism includes an ancient belief that they are the souls of the dead.

And this one is dying.

A maroon body with golden wings at the base that become translucent at the tips. I was excited to see him, until I noted he wasn’t moving. A gentle prod later and there was some flicker of life, but it was weak. i don’t see anything wrong or broken. There are no obvious injuries. But you can tell. These are death throes. I can only presume he’s a victim of last night’s storms. He didn’t find shelter. He got badly beat up by the winds and heavy downpour.

I debated putting it out of its misery, and then irony hit. What kind of karma comes with killing your totem? Is it killing a part of you? Or is it giving it a dignified death? It’s not like they scream when hurt, so I don’t know if he’s in pain or not. I don’t know if he’ll recover or if he’s too weak and will eventually succumb to the call of kin long gone. I don’t know what to do… Which is ironic, since part of the symbolism of a dragonfly is clarity.

He’s still flicking his foot occasionally. My clarity is no where to be seen. I think I’ll name him and give him some time. And if need be, a small corner of the garden…

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