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Benton finally got out of the ICU. He was evaluated by a therapist, who gave very different instructions than the ICU doc did. Don't force him to be awake or engaged. Let him set his own pace. If he wants to nap, let him do that. If he wants to talk, have a conversation with him. He's in charge right now. His brain is positively scrambled at the moment. He is off all monitors. No wires, Ma! Catheter is out, which pleased him immensely. He's hooked up to precisely nothing. Good. The bandage has been taken off his head and wowzers that's gonna leave a mark, especially since he likes to wear his hair pretty short. The surgeon(s) had to staple his skull back together after some asshole cracked it and docs went in to fix the damage. The incision starts at about the middle of his forehead at the hairline. It extends straight back about halfway down his head before taking a sharp left and heading to just above his left ear and then taking a downward turn on the face-side of the ear. It stops just short of his jaw. None of us have been able to count the total number of staples involved without either disturbing him or calling too much attention to the injury, but my estimate is comfortably over forty. I saw him run his hand over his head many times today. At one point he remarked "My head is all cut up." Once again, his mom reminded him that he'd had brain surgery. He's still accepting this news as normal, but needs to be reminded of it pretty often. His short-term memory is pretty much shot right now. Long-term seems intact.

I think it's easiest (and certainly happiest,) to report the successes and the points that impress me so far. Benton can both read and write. If you don't think that's impressive, you've failed to understand the extent of his injuries. Hell, I was impressed when he successfully made it through the alphabet a couple of days ago. His fine motor skills are intact. I've watched him eat two dinners so far with no help and no problem. Both involved extra skills like opening a bottle of soda and configurating items on the tray. He didn't hesitate and no one needed to help him. His mom is making sure that if Benton wants to call the nurse or adjust the bed, he'll be expected to work the controls himself. I'm told that he's done some limited walking. His balance is wonky, but he's technically mobile. With assistance. It's gonna be a long road to real recovery.

Today was the first time that I was sure that Benton knew who I was. He might have made the connection before now. I'll never know for certain. But today, today he definitely knew. Today also convinced me that it's still Benton in there, not some random guy who's new to the world. When he woke up just before dinner, he told me that he was about to go fishing. And when I saw what he'd written in his journal, it was Benton's same handwriting. It's still him in there. That's encouraging.

I'll be back tomorrow. I prefer to be there after the daytime crowd goes away. They make so much of a fuss. And if I show up around dinnertime, I might just get to see Benton awake.

He looks so small in that bed. He's a fairly small guy anyway. As it is, I just want to wrap him up. I wish that I could put my arms around him and make sure that no one could hurt him ever again. Since that's not possible, I'll hang out next to him for at least a couple hours each day. It doesn't matter to me whether he knows it or not.
The troubles with Allie cat have been described on FB. Fuck her. Mike wants to take her back to the shelter because she is an increasingly dangerous animal. True, but we signed up for her. She's our responsibility. If we take her back, they kill her. She's ours, like it or not. Man, I really don't like this cat.

Went job hunting today. Got properly dressed up. Modest skirt and blouse, kitten heels on cute shoes. Results: Apply online, I can't find a blank application form so please come back tomorrow, are you at least eighteen? Fuck, I just want to work.
- Daddy? Who's Chuck Norris?
- He's the guy that the boogeyman is scared of at night.

bladder stone/inappropriate peeing

 About a week and a half ago, my cat started peeing on the carpet.  She's 3 1/2 years old and spayed.  We adopted her at seven weeks old and have never had this problem before.  We discovered that she had a problem because she started peeing on the carpet.  We took her to the vet and X-Rays revealed a bladder stone.  We gave her liquid antibiotics until her surgery and have been pilling here ever since.  She's still peeing on the carpet.  I've seen her use the litterbox since and she still jumps into windowsills, so it's not a mobility problem.  And I know she's eating the pills.  Her pee is no longer tinted with blood, so I guess the antibiotics are working.  We put down some puppy training pads.  She seems to want to go anywhere BUT there. Additionally, when she goes on the carpet, she makes sure to do it in front of me and while looking directly at me.  It's like a protest pee.  Any ideas?

 Day Two went surprisingly well.  Mostly because Pops spent most of it with Crooked Frank.  I was sorry he missed Jeopardy! again, as we usually like to play together.  I checked and neither of us would have gotten Final, but I wouldn't have wagered anything.  "Baseball and the Presidency?"  Yeah, wagering nothing.  Pops was closer than I was, but that doesn't count if neither of us were right.  He's leaving in the morning and I don't cotton to the idea of getting up early, so we've said our goodbyes.  He's snoring directly behind me right now.  Two feet. One thing we share: the ability to sleep through most natural disasters.  Steph once called home sick from elementary school.  Pops was working midnights at the time and Mom was working days.  Steph heard "I'm not here right now..."  Hilarious currently, but troubling and disconcerting to a small child at the time.  What can I say?  We're not insomniacs - we're both nocturnal and deep sleepers.  god help me if this place ever catches on fire.  We even have a fancy escape ladder, but if Mike's at work I can promise you that I'll sleep through it and burn to death.  If I'm out, I'm seriously out.  

I put Pops through another two hours of MSNBC tonight.  If you insist on staying here, which you know is a bad idea, this is what you get.  I love you, but you should seriously look into staying with someone who likes you.  



the public version

Due to a psychotic person shoving a threatening note into my purse yesterday, my LJ list has been trimmed slightly. This should not be taken personally by any person either previously or currently on said list. I'm simply trying to protect myself. However, if you were never on the list and fraudulently used someone else's account and password to gain access to my page, well here's what I have to say: For all of your lengthy lectures on Jesus, you've just displayed some mighty un-Christ-like behavior.
During Bill Clinton's first run for president, I was too young to vote.  (I voted for him the next time.)  But I mark that campaign season as the first time I started to get interested in national politics.  And I remember exactly why.  My family was in SC for some reason and we were staying in a condo near my grandparents' house.  One parent or the other had apparently turned on the tv to some boring station and walked away.  I entered the room and started to change the channel, but this amazing old man came on and started speaking.  I guess it was CNN.  They still had a lot of cred then.  I had no idea who this guy was, but he amazed me by being against everything I believed.  He was my polar opposite politically.  I was fascinated.  I made a mental note to watch out for this guy and memorized his name: Orrin Hatch.  The moment is so clear in my mind that I remember I was wearing a purple bathing suit at the time.  It was my first notion that "if these are the guys in charge, we're in trouble.  I'd better start paying attention to this stuff."  I mean, I didn't understand that people like this actually existed.  To me, they were Batman villains.  Extreme fiction.  To learn that these people actually existed, well that was mind-blowing.  

Through the years, I have indeed kept an eye on this guy.  And he still blows my mind.  In general, if Orrin Hatch is for it, I'm probably against it.   I'm used to that by now.   Today he left me stupefied.  He weighed in on the Burlington Coat Factory Community Center.  His words:

Let's be honest about it, in the First Amendment, religious freedom, religious expression, that really express matters to the Constitution. So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so. The only question is are they being insensitive to those who suffered the loss of loved ones? We know there are Muslims killed on 9/11 too and we know it's a great religion.... But as far as their right to build that mosque, they have that right.

I just think what's made this country great is we have religious freedom. That's not the only thing, but it's one of the most important things in the Constitution....

There's a question of whether it's too close to the 9/11 area, but it's a few blocks away, it isn't right there.... And there's a huge, I think, lack of support throughout the country for Islam to build that mosque there, but that should not make a difference if they decide to do it. I'd be the first to stand up for their rights.

Orrin fucking Hatch.  He does mention the proximity, but then rolls over it in the interest of the First Amendment.  Orrin Hatch and I agree on something.  Finally.  I must give him credit for this.  
 Interesting day.  First day of actual jury duty.  Sorta.  All last week I'd been instructed not to attend.  I spent most of my day in the jury "lounge."  "Lounge" apparently means sardine can.  I'd been warned of the inactivity and had a paperback in my purse.  I spent the morning talking to other potential jurors instead of reading.  The man to my left was quite a character.  He was "damn near sixty," looked older, had three visible teeth that weren't long for this world, loved to talk about his military service and clearly loved a good story, facts be damned.  I liked him immediately.  He also spoke of his love of building model cars.  I think it's fair to say that the glue has had some effect on him over the years.  The woman on my right was in her fifties (guessing) and was pretty sweet.  She told me boring stories about her career as a dancer (not that kind) and seemed primed to have an audience.  Enter me.  I thought we'd hit a positive note when Africa and percussion came up, but I kept getting unnerved by how much she wanted to touch me.  Not to steer you wrong; it wasn't a sexual thing in the least.  I'm just not touchy overall.  To state for the twenty-eleventh time, I have a short list of people who are allowed to touch me.  And if you're on the list you can touch me almost anywhere.  But if you're not on the list, and you probably aren't, please respect my personal space.  Scotty, you've recently made the cut.  Because your hugs seem genuine.  So I've got these two yahoos.  

Juror coffee is crap, but it's a bottomless pot.  And they have crappy powdered creamer.  There's a large sign on the machine that says "Juror Use Only."  I'm totally bringing my camera tomorrow.  This is in the Juror's Lounge.  Who the hell is gonna try to break in to an unlocked room and steal crappy coffee?  At 11:35, a clerk came in and called a lot of names.  Not mine.  Then another clerk came in and called more names.  Including me.  We were instructed to return at 1:30.  Seriously?  2 hours to kill in downtown Charleston over a weekday lunch?  Good fucking luck with that venture.  I attempted to visit Trish at Macy's but she had the day off.  I had beach presents for Scotty and Beth in the glove box, so I was Wine Shop bound.  Killed a little time there just chatting.  

I got back on time and spent the better part of an hour just sitting in my chair.  Then most of us (about thirty) were called to go to a courtroom.  Only six of of us would be selected.  My number never came up.   But  I got to see the selection process for the first time. Even though I was never called, I knew pretty quickly that there would be a problem if that ever happened.  In the initial juror oath, they are asked as a group to either swear or affirm (sounding good to me so far,) to "tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god."  I'm not gonna do that.  I know how minor and regular it sounds, but I'm just not.  This court, even if it's a civil case, is and should be a secular court.  I have no wish to cause trouble.  I have no wish to bring this up in open court.  Tomorrow I intend to snag a clerk early and explain in a simple manner why I will not do this.  And I'm not looking to get out of jury duty.  It actually interests me and I want to serve.  But I'm not going to say that.  This is non-negotiable.  I really wanted to get called today until I heard that.  I'd much prefer sitting on a jury rather than listening to a glue-head while drinking crappy coffee.  

Look, I got married by a judge in that same building in an entirely secular ceremony.  And we didn't even request that in advance.  It came standard, which is why I was surprised today.  


Category: Literary Brawls

Wager: Ooh, this sounds like fun.  A bunch.

Clue: At  Key West in 1936, Wallace Stevens broke his hand punching this man, who responded by knocking Stevens down.  

Thinking:  When did Final get so obvious?  1936.  Key West.  Fistfight.  Hemingway.

Correct response: Hemingway.  Yawn.
I'm kinda on a Louise McNeill jag.  She's just that wonderful.  I found another lovely poem in Elderberry Flood that I hadn't remembered.  To me, it's a little jab that describes the spirit of West Virginians.  In the book, the poem is printed with an asterisk.  One has to flip to the back pages to read the explanation.  I'll start with the explanation.  Once again, her punctuation and structure have been preserved even if it looks wonky to me.

"The King's Line": In 1763, King George III and his ministers defined an imaginary line along the crest of the Allegheny Mountains.  This "Proclamation Line of 1763" was meant to hold back the frontiersmen, who were forbidden to cross he mark and settle in the Trans-Allegheny.

Onto the poem itself:


The King in London took a map
And drew a crooked line
Along the Allegheny top,
Then made his Royal sign.

The King in London then stood up,
"No settlers, I proclaim,
Shall ever pass beyond this mark - 
By order of my name."

The settlers climbed the rocky crest;
They crossed the King's divide,
And dropped like evening down the West,
And liked the sunset side.

Yeah, we're historically a big f-you to whomever's currently in charge.  Not much has changed in that respect.