C sent me a note inquiring after the status of my novel, and encouraging me to lay off the workahol. I was going to write back to him with an update tonight, but I had to finish a report and didn't get home until late.
Okay, so maybe -- maybe -- I have a problem.
"You make me feel like a 300 bowler, like I bowled 200 and youíre the other 100."
- from Saturdayís Seattle Neutrino Project
I love it when I get mail for Jane Or Current Resident. Really.
For some reason Ė possibly because Iíve been too tired to maintain my usual dragon-eyed expression and have slipped into the merely doe-eyed Ė random men have been trying to strike up conversations with me. Or maybe they were just in dire need of my opinion about the band, or the tea, or the rain (theyíre great, itís tasty, and Iím ambivalent, respectively).
I accidentally typed "Janusary" in a report today, and briefly considered leaving it that way because I think every workplace could be a little more classical (except, perhaps, Classics departments in universities, which pretty much have it covered). The cube farm would be more satisfying if meetings could start like this:
BOB FROM HR: Whereís Bill?
HOMER FROM ACCOUNTING: He will not sally forth to fight, but gnaws at his own heart, pining for battle and the war-cry.
AGAMEMNON: Whereís Achilles? I want to get this budget review over with before lunch.
NESTOR: His schedule says "Off site meeting".
AGAMEMNON: Fine, weíll go on without him. I think itís clear that the Helen Project is suffering from serious scope creep. Weíre ten years behind schedule, and the cost overruns are killing us.
TODD: I thought the Trojans were ki Ė
AGAMEMNON: Shut up, Todd. Alright, new items Ė Odysseus, whatís this about a giant wooden horse?
ODYSSEUS: Itís been cleared by the capital budget committee.
AGAMEMNON: But it says here itís a gift. We canít capitalize a gift.
ODYSSEUS: Itís really more like a ploy.
AGAMEMNON: Can we capitalize ploys?
NESTOR: I donít think so Ė theyíre pretty much one-time use, right?
AGAMEMNON: What about the R & D for the ploy?
NESTOR: Definitely an expense.
AGAMEMNON: Damn. The new helmets?
NESTOR: Those are capital.
AGAMEMNON: Sacrifices to the gods?
AGAMEMNON: Any way we can cut those?
ODYSSEUS: Not without jeopardizing the project.
AGAMEMNON: I want a risk analysis in my tent by the end of the day. Consultation with oracles?
AGAMEMNON: Can we bring soothsaying in house?
NESTOR: Well, if we had a blind guy on staff....
AGAMEMNON: Great. Todd, youíre promoted to soothsayer.
TODD (as guards drag him away): Hey!
AGAMEMNON: Congratulations, buddy. Okay, now we can terminate the consultants.
NESTOR: You mean terminate their contracts.
The rundown of my hours at work last week:
And then I slept 20 hours on Saturday, which was not entirely unexpected. I must say, however, that the additional 18 hours on Sunday, followed by another 9 to take me into Monday morning, caught me off guard.
I had Monday off, so I did get a conscious day to myself. I read, I soaked, I cleaned, and in the evening I went to The Crocodile for Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. Happiness. Also, ear ringing. But mostly happiness.
Eighteen hours. I know itís bad when I come home from my day job and the late-night infomercials are already on.
Still, when I got home I found lovely things in my mailbox, and lovely messages on my answering machine, and I poured some lovely whiskey in a lovely tumbler, so I feel all warm and fuzzy. At least in the parts that arenít completely numb.
Now for some sleep before my 7:00 a.m. meeting.
I donated blood last Tuesday, and I got the New Guy.
The New Guy spent what seemed like five minutes tapping for a vein in my left arm. Then he spent what felt like another five minutes swabbing the skin over the vein with iodine. This was when I began to worry. I try to give myself at least an hour when I give blood in case I have to wait around, and this time I only had forty minutes before I needed to be in a meeting. But there was no one else on a table or in line in front of me, so I figured I would have plenty of time.
Digression: it was a shame that no one else was there to donate. If youíre eligible, and not freaked out by needles or blood or iodine or juice or cookies, you should go. Donít let the rest of this entry dissuade you. Really. Iím sure it was an anomaly.
So the New Guy finally gets the needle in, and I noticed that he applied the tape a little too far away from the puncture for my taste. There was a pause, and then he starts putting a blood pressure cuff on my arm. This is when he knocks the needle out.
He apologizes profusely; I reassure him profusely. He asks if we can try again in the other arm. Iím game, because Iíve already gone through the questionnaire and had my temperature and blood pressure taken and passed the iron test, but by now Iím down to less than twenty minutes before my meeting. That would be enough time if the iodine were applied more efficiently this round...
Confession: sadly, my competitive streak manifests itself even during blood donation - Iím keen on filling the bag as quickly as possible without collapsing a vein in the process. Once I even lapped a guy: he was already on the table and dripping away when I got started, and I was done and drinking juice before he was up (in your face, Clot Boy!). This time, because there was no one else around, I set out to beat my Personal Best - see below.
...which meant I had to inform the New Guy that time was of the essence. I was reluctant to do this; I knew it would make him nervous and even less proficient.
At last the needle is in, the tape is on, Iím squeezing the little foam ball with my right hand, and holding up my copy of Love in the Time of Cholera with my left (in retrospect it might have been better to bring a book without a disease in the title; for no good reason it seems oddly unsanitary). The New Guy has brought over a scale to keep track of quickly the bag is filling, and the other phlebotomists -- who, alas, have nothing else to do -- are gathered around, watching its progress and making encouraging comments. I'm not sure if they're meant for me, or the New Guy.
In any case, I've got the bag full in just under seven minutes (a new record). All the New Guy has to do is fill the little sample tubes, and Iíve got plenty of time for juice and cookies and recovery before my meeting.
Then Iím thinking, Why isnít the New Guy filling the sample tubes? Heís already disconnected the bag - isnít this the part with the tubes? Why is he off filling out paper work?
He comes back, with the tubes. He pops the first tube onto the line, and nothing happens. He tells me to squeeze. After a minute of squeezing, blood finally shoots into the tube.
"Looks like you lost the vacuum," says a plainly Not New Guy.
The rest of the tubes fill in a matter of seconds. The New Guy takes out the needle, puts on a bandage, and gives me an ice pack for my arm. Iíve never been given an ice pack before.
He warns me that there may be bruising. Iím not worried about it. How bad can it be?
I find out that night, when I take off the bandage. At this stage it is not so much a bruise as a couple of half inch-wide, inch-long, dark purple blood blisters. Raised skin and everything. So thatís where the blood went when it wasnít going into the tube.
The next morning the bruise is a Technicolor drama with a four inch diameter.
Obsession: I keep poking at it, because contrary to what one would expect from a bruise of this magnitude, it doesnít hurt. At all. Weird. [Poke, poke.]
The next evening thereís a message from Debbie at the Puget Sound Blood Center - they heard I might have had some bruising, and wanted to make sure I was okay. I think itís very nice of them to follow up, but I also suspect they wanted to make sure they hadnít alienated a regular donor with a semi-handy blood type (O+ -- I bet if I were O- they would have sent a card and flowers).
I donít return the call that night, because Iím not sure what to say - I donít want to get the New Guy in trouble, but Iím not sure he should be unleashed on people who could be first-time donors. Thereís another message for me the next day, so I call back. I let them know that, yes, there was some bruising, bruising like Iíd never seen before. I let them know that the New Guy was very nice, but he seem to need more practice. And I assured them Iíd be back in two months.