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Getting Things Done

Yesterday was a busy day. At work I found myself swamped with paperwork. Then, after school, Bridoodle and I had icecream with a blogging buddy and then we visited a friend in the hospital that evening. It was dark when I finally swooped into the grocery store to pick up a few essential items. And then I hit up a drive through for dinner.

I admit, it was a busy day.

Most of my days are not quite that busy, but it did make me think. Not that I’m complaining. I like it that way. Just ask the Hubster … I’m always over committed. (Sometimes it drives him nuts.)

Now that I’m starting to get used to Hubster’s weird schedule, I find that I have a lot more time to myself. At first I struggled with that, but I found that the extra time really makes a difference in how much I get done. I guess Hubster tends to distract me from the things I ought to do. Probably because he’s so ridiculously good looking.

Recently, a friend asked me how I manage to get everything done. It made me laugh. My answer? I do everything half way and nothing at one hundred percent. I think that pretty much sums up my work ethic.

Death of a Ballerina – Part 8 -

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

Clary stayed behind as the officers left the room. She checked the Ptocin drip and the baby’s heart rate. “Mrs. Armitage, why are you so opposed to a C-section?” The question slipped out of Clary’s mouth without any censoring. She felt a sudden panic. Normally her questions were carefully worded to be as tactful as possible.

Honey looked at Clary thoughtfully. “Well, it’s not that I’m opposed … exactly. If I have to be cut open in order for Peanut to survive, that doesn’t bother me a bit. But Dr. Johnson said that there were risks either way. And the way that I see it … If they’re both risky, then I’ll try to wait for Alleson as long as I can.”

Clary had suspected this line of thinking when her patient had reacted violently to Dr. Johnson’s suggestion of surgery. Ronnie had nearly passed out as Honey’s face turned red. Her normally happy demeanor had been overpowered by this morning’s anxiety over Alleson. Her shouting had only stopped while she held her breath through a painful contraction. Her emphatic answer had been to forget the C-section. Dr. Johnson had hastily ordered a Ptocin drip instead.

Clary now felt a touch of relief knowing that in an emergency, she would be able to get the patient’s consent for a C-section. However, the weight of her secret prevented her from relaxing. She knew with absolute certainty that Alleson would not be present for the birth of her half brother.
——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——-
The garage door methodically opened allowing Rose to slowly ease her Tahoe into place. Through the window on the kitchen door, she could see her youngest daughter singing into a spatula that seemed to be dotted with chocolate chips.  She was dressed in blue jeans, a black t-shirt and the vintage apron that Rose had ordered for her as a birthday present. Her long blonde hair swished back and forth as she belted out a song with the kitchen radio. Rose smiled at the sight.

She moved around to the passenger’s side of the car to help her weary mother out. The three-hour trip had exhausted the frail woman. Rose grabbed the bags from the back seat and held her mother’s arm as they walked up the three brick steps that led to the kitchen. The garage’s odor made the older woman wrinkle her nose, but the grimace disappeared as soon as the kitchen door opened. The warm scent of homemade cookies filled the room.

Megan spun around in surprise and ran to turn the music down. “Hi Mom. Hi Granma. I saw your note. Did you have a good time shopping?”

“We did.” Rose moved to set her purchases on the entrance table. “How was the slumber party, sweetie?” She tossed her keys into her teacup, which was decorated with pink roses.  The table held two teacups and four coffee mugs. Her husband had invented the system for organizing the family’s keys when their oldest son had started driving.  Each member of the family had chosen a cup to hold their personal key ring, so that cars could be moved easily when needed. Megan’s keys sat next to Rose’s, inside a brown coffee mug that read, “Give me chocolate or give me death.”

“It was fun. I can’t believe we’re all graduating in a few months. Gabby was the first one to turn eighteen. All of us will be eighteen this year, Mom! Well, except Alleson.” Rose watched as Megan frowned and studied the cookies in the oven. She glanced across the room to where Megan’s grandmother had fallen asleep at the kitchen table. Her arms were folded to make a pillow for her head. Megan set the timer on the microwave. “I wonder whatever happened with Alleson. It was the weirdest thing Mom.”

“Hold on a minute Meg. Let me put Granma down for a nap. I’ll be back in a second.” She gently pulled her mother to her feet and held her waist as they shuffled out of the kitchen. Megan turned the radio back up.
——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——-
Several hours later, a heavyset nurse charged down the hall from the Armitage’s room.

“Never seen Dora move so quickly.” Linda was standing behind Clary’s chair. She was one of the three nurses that Clary knew by name and she was speaking out of the side of her mouth, while peering at another patient’s chart. “Must be serious.”

Clary glanced up from her work. “Dr. Anderson!” The nurse called breathlessly as she jogged towards the nurses’ station. “Dr. Anderson you have to come quick!” Dora’s raspy voice now filled the hall, and she turned to jog back to the Armitage room. “The patient is seizing!”

Clary felt the eyes of the nursing staff turn to her and she flushed. Despite her training, she felt ill at ease whenever emergencies placed her in charge.

“Should we call Dr. Johnson?” Clary didn’t see the speaker.  She merely nodded as she grabbed the chart in front of her and chased Dora down the hall.

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

My Favorite Pass-Time

So lately, I’ve taken up this new painting hobby. I’ve started decorating the safety caps that go in electric sockets. It absolutely KILLS me that my camera, which malfunctioned two weeks ago, is undergoing repairs and therefore I can’t show you pictures. It bugged me that I couldn’t photograph Bridoodle’s first birthday, but its KILLING me that I can’t take pictures of my little “pogs” (that’s my nickname for them).

I promise that I will be loading them like crazy onto Etsy as soon as I get my camera-baby back. (They’ll cost fifty cents a piece, if you’re interested and Yes! I’d love to take your custom order.)

Luckily, our camera was still under warranty. Which means Nikon will be footing the bill. In the meantime, I’m counting every second that my baby is gone.

The point … yes, I did have one… the point is, that my favorite thing to do right now, in my wee bit of free time, is to listen to books on tape while I paint. It’s so much fun! I started with one of the Twilight books (when the rest of the world had it on hold at the library). Now that I’ve finished the Twilight series, I’ve moved on to other authors.

I can also do the dishes or cook dinner while listening. It’s WONDERFUL. I love it because I can actually accomplish something while I devour my books.

Death of a Ballerina -Part 7-

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

Clary glared at the officer and at her brother. Then turning, she stalked into the room. There was a silent agreement between the three, that the discovered body should not be mentioned. Mrs. Armitage looked ragged from crying for so long, but she glanced at Clary sympathetically.

“Dr. Anderson, thank you so much for looking out for my health. But I think I’ll feel a whole lot better if I know that someone is out there looking for Alleson. Dr. Johnson already told me that we need to induce the baby right away.” Mrs. Armitage repositioned her ponytail full of black hair, and looked over at the officer in uniform.

He handed her a form attached to a clipboard, along with the pen from his shirt pocket. Nobody spoke for several minutes. Mrs. Armitage balanced the clipboard on top of her belly and studied the boxes. Ronnie glanced nervously at Greg’s black suit and then at the uniformed police officer. The tension in the room grew as the pen scratched over the paper. An IV pump whirred and the fetal heart monitor beeped. Mrs. Armitage groaned during her contractions before politely asking for explanations about various phrases on the form.

As she wrote, Greg weighed out his next course of action. The team from the coroner’s office had just arrived to remove the body.  The option of escorting Ronnie down to identify the body seemed viable. He shook his head at the thought. That would be cruel. The poor guy was expecting all the pain and joy of receiving a new life, but he would forever associate this ordeal with the death of this teenaged girl. Greg decided to wait for the forensics photos to come back. That would give the Armitages some time to bond with their new baby boy, before facing the burden of identifying their dead daughter.

Mrs. Armitage placed the pen on top of the clipboard and raised it in the air for the officer to take. “I hope I spelled everything right. You know, I didn’t even realize that I’d misspelled Alleson’s name on her birth certificate until a few weeks after she’d been born. Her aunt sent an embroidered towel as a baby gift. Spelled it with an ‘i’ instead of an ‘e.’ Not going to make that mistake this time.” She pulled an index card off of the nightstand. “I’ve copied little peanut’s name right out of the baby book.”

Greg glanced at the card and smiled. “Mrs. Armitage, I’d like to speak to anyone who saw your daughter last night. Where should I begin?”

“Before I tell you that, I want to know something.” Honey Armitage squared her shoulders and pushed her belly forward. “You mentioned that you might have a lead on my daughter when you were talking in the hall. What did you find?”

Greg glanced nervously at his sister who had paled. A dispatcher’s voice crackled over the officer’s radio.

“Well, Mrs. Armitage,” he shifted uncomfortably, “her car was towed because it was illegally parked. The guy who owns the towing company is a friend of mine. He called me this morning and I ran her license plates.”
Clary flushed. She was sure that her face would betray the lie, so she turned and pretended to check the fetal monitor readings.

“Well, what does that mean then?” Honey’s face was puckered in confusion. “Has she been kidnapped?” Her forehead wrinkled. “Or maybe … her car was towed and that’s why she never showed up last night?” Tears formed in her eyes. She ducked her head. “She should have called me by now. Why hasn’t she called me? Why hasn’t somebody called me? My … baby … oh … mah babeeee…”

The woman bent over, sobbing and gripping the bed rails in pain. Clary glared at her brother and Officer Davidson. “You’ve taken the report. Now you need to leave. This is not healthy for my patient.” The coldness of the words conveyed the strength of her anger. Greg felt as though he’d been kicked in the stomach.

“Wait. He asked where to look for her.” Honey gulped for breath. “Start with Ms. Broder. She’s Alleson’s dance instructor. The number is in my cell phone.” Mrs. Armitage grimaced in pain as she leaned across the nightstand to reach her purse. Ronnie jumped up to retrieve the oversized handbag for her. His face echoed her worry.

Mrs. Armitage pressed several buttons on her phone and read the number off to Greg. He hastily scribbled the number on the back of the missing person form. A few minutes later, Greg left the room with five more phone numbers. He planned to call Alleson’s friends and her dance teacher before the media storm hit that evening. Before leaving, he discreetly unplugged the TV.

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

Methods of Discipline

Yesterday, a colleague commented on how wonderful my flagline looked at last week’s game. He mentioned that he’s overheard several people commenting on how far they’ve come. He was impressed. He asked me, “How do you keep them so disciplined?”

I tried really hard to keep my mouth from hitting the floor. Only five hours earlier, I had learned that three of my girls, including one of the captains, had been injured the previous evening after practice. How were they injured? They fell off of a MOVING car. They had been riding on top of another flagline member’s car in the parking lot. She hit the brakes quickly and everyone else hit the pavement. One of them had to go to the emergency room for X-rays. A second one went to a clinic and has had to limp around all week. The third, I haven’t seen yet because I think she’s grounded for life.

Yup, they sure are disciplined. Maybe on the field. But not so much in the parking lot. Sigh.

I considered punishing them. It would be understandable if I didn’t let them perform this week. But when I saw the captain on crutches, I decided that they had all been punished enough. I think their parents took care of it for me, and the doctors did the rest. They won’t be able to perform anyway, because of their injuries. And the one who was driving lost the privilege of using the car. She was pretty upset.

I sure hope they learned this lesson. I shudder to think of what could have happened.

Twelve Short Months Ago

Dear Bri,

Tonight the memory of your birth comes flooding back to me. At around 7:30 pm that night, a year ago, my heart was pounding as the doctors and nurses prepped me for surgery. Your Daddy had to change into scrubs and I kept asking the nurses when he would be back. We’d already spent two days at the hospital but my body wasn’t ready to let go of you. So after thirty six hours of labor, everyone agreed that a c-section was needed. The medicine kept the pain away, but everything felt cold. When your Daddy finally came into the operating room, I knew everything was going to be alright. He held my hand the whole time.

That night I felt really sick from the medicine, so I didn’t get to see you. But the next morning, when I held you in my arms for the first time, you stole my heart. I never knew it was possible to love someone so much. My heart stretched just like the Grinch’s heart in the Dr. Seuss Christmas story. Your Daddy and I held you and took lots of pictures. Our family came to visit. It was really special.

I remember lying on the hospital bed watching TV with your Dad, while we talked about how blessed we both felt. You became the most important treasure we’d ever shared. Suddenly, we felt like the world was a big scary place that we had to protect you from. I remember the scary feeling of holding you as the nurse wheeled me down the sidewalk in the wheelchair.

These days you can stand up on your own and you crawl everywhere. You can open cabinet doors and you love to make your “iPod” play songs. At this very minute, you’re standing beside me while I sit on the couch, you’ve just pulled yourself up because you want to play on the computer too. We’ve watched you grow so much in the last year. It’s been an amazing journey. We can’t wait to see what your future holds.

I love you so much, baby girl.

Love,

Mommy

Warm Fuzzies

At the school’s Open House last night, I was able to speak to one of my flagline parents for a little while. Most of the girls had avoided me during the school day. That’s unusual. I could tell that they were upset about the situation with the disrespectful girl last week. We’ve all been stewing over lots of little incidents instead of working things out. So as I was talking to Mrs. Charlene, I realized a few things. First of all, I realized that I haven’t really been listening to the girls. They’re worried that if they mess up I’ll be mean and keep them from performing at the games. (And I thought that they weren’t afraid of me. Surprise!)

I also realized that no one enjoys coming to practice anymore. Myself included. I thought that I was the only one who dreaded staying after school, but it turns out that lots of the girls feel the same way. We used to have a lot of fun during the summer practices. We joked and took a lot of breaks. It felt like a treat to hang out with everyone because the alternative was watching infomercials at home. Now, it feels like one more thing to do. For all of us.

So after the Open House last night, I dragged the Brimeister to the grocery store. We bought junk food and sodas. Then when we got home, I made invitations for a surprise party. Today, I got my two captains out of class during second period. They were really excited about my idea (which rarely happens). I’d decided to have a party in my classroom instead of practice this afternoon. The girls spent the period delivering invitations.

After school, the kids trickled in slowly. I blinked and all of the food was gone! Seriously. They talked and laughed for awhile. Then I convinced them to play Apples to Apples. We had a blast. Everyone was laughing and making stupid jokes. It was great. I think every one left the party feeling a little bit better about being on the flagline. We all really needed to have some fun. I think it was a success.

Moving On Up

Bridoodle has been playing in the one year old room at the daycare for the last week. She doesn’t officially turn one until Wednesday, but she’s been spending an hour or two in the “big girl room” just for practice each day. In the afternoons, when I pick her up, the ladies tell me about her adventures. At first she sat and cried a lot. That’s been pretty normal for most of the kids. But then she became curious about her new surroundings.

There are lots of riding toys that are new to her. She loves to ride them! They sent a note home on Friday requesting that she wear shoes for the playground today. My baby doesn’t seem quite so babyish anymore. She’s growing up!

Death of a Ballerina – Part 6 -

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

Greg looked at the ceiling and scratched the back of his head. “So you’re saying that this woman is missing a daughter, who sounds just like our victim, but we can’t interview her until she chunks out the baby?”

The tall doctor shifted in his golf shoes and nodded. “Yes. Her condition seems to be deteriorating rapidly due to the stress. We need to deliver the baby immediately.”

“And how long will that take exactly?” Greg looked down at his watch. It was 2:03pm. Officer Maine had gone in search of hospital surveillance footage. Since Greg had almost completed his investigations training, he was on his own to wrap up the loose ends at the scene.

The doctor peeked at the women’s locker room door to his left. “We already gave her a bag of Ptocin, which will speed things along, but there’s really no way to know. It could be hours. It could be thirty minutes. If she doesn’t make enough progress then we’ll need to do an emergency c-section. But she’s not in favor of that idea so we will wait until it’s absolutely necessary.”

Greg thought for a second before his eyes lit up. “Wait a second. Didn’t you say that she requested a police report a little while ago?”

“Yes.” Dr. Johnson squinted, as if trying to read the hidden meaning behind the question.

“Has anyone come to take her report?” Greg leaned forward in anticipation of the answer.

“Actually, I think that he just arrived.” Dr. Johnson motioned down the hall to an officer standing in front of the Armitage’s room. Clary was guarding the door, and shaking her head.

Greg thanked the doctor for his help, and trotted down the hall. As he walked up, the officer interrupted Clary. “Look, Doctor whatever-your-name-is. I have my orders, and they trump yours.” He slowed his words down as if speaking to a child. “My job is to take a report, and unless you have a justifiable reason why the patient should not make the report, then I have to go get it.”

Greg put a hand on Clary’s rigid shoulder, and she turned in surprise. He recognized the defiant look on her face, and grinned as a childhood memory popped in his mind. A seven-year-old Clary, standing in the doorway of his bedroom was screaming at him for mutilating her Barbie dolls. He had torn several appendages off of the dolls and painted red nail polish in the appropriate places to make the girls wounded from battle. He stopped smiling as he realized that she might actually start screaming again.

“I just spoke with Dr. Johnson, and he explained everything to me.” Greg looked Clary squarely in the eyes, his loud voice bouncing off the pastel green walls. Then turning to the officer, he said, “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Detective Anderson. Just moved up to investigations.”

The officer looked at the badge and gun hanging from Greg’s black suit pants. He tilted his head thoughtfully, pushed a button on his two-way radio and muttered, “D-26.” Then he extended his hand to Greg and said, “Name’s Davidson. Transferred here from Franklin last year.”

“Is that so? We just lost a guy on C shift to Franklin.” Greg loosened his necktie. “So anyway, this lady in here is missing a daughter. We might have a lead on the case.” He pointed down the hall to the crime scene tape. A look of understanding lit up the officer’s face. Then he frowned.

“So what’s the problem? The lady needs to know, right?” He shrugged and shifted his weight.

“The problem is that the stress of having a daughter who’s missing, “ Clary spat the words out and waved silently towards the end of the hall, knowing full well that the patient and her husband were most likely listening to every word, “has caused her condition to worsen. We are very concerned for the health of the mother and the child.”

The angry words hung in the air for a split second before the door opened and Ronnie stuck his head out in the hall. “S’cuse me folks. My wife was wondering if you’d mind finishing this discussion inside our room. She’s straining to hear everything you say.” He grinned and pulled the door all the way open.

——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——- ——-

The plaza in front of the mall held a beautiful fountain. Rose and her mother stopped to sit on a bench in the warm afternoon sunshine.  Ladies bustled behind them pushing strollers and herding children into the sliding glass doors of various stores. Puffy white clouds dotted the sky and the air held delicious scents from nearby restaurants.  Her mother seemed content to watch the water spilling over the terraces of the fountain, but Rose felt restless. She sorted her shopping bags, and tucked two smaller ones inside the largest.

“Mrs. Clayton?” A timid woman’s voice startled Rose out of her organizational reverie.  She turned to her left to see a woman staring over her head at her mother who continued to stare at the fountains. “Professor Clayton,” the woman ignored Rose and stepped closer with her hand outstretched, “you taught my English class in college. Do you remember me? Mrs. Clayton?”

Rose moved quickly to stand. “Hi. I’m afraid that you’re mistaken about my mother.” Rose shifted as the woman looked at her. “She’s never taught English. In fact, she never went to college either.”

The woman frowned and stepped back. Her pink cardigan set perfectly matched her pink high heels. “She looks just like … Well, my goodness, that’s embarrassing. I’m so sorry.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ears and stared at Rose’s mother.

Rose smiled. “No problem. I love your earrings. They really catch the light out here.”

“Oh! Thanks. I found them on sale over there last week.” The woman pointed at a small jewelry store as she turned to walk away. “They’re probably even cheaper now.” She pulled her purse in close to her body and ducked through the stream of customers. Rose watched her melt into the crowd and disappear into a large department store.

Sighing, Rose settled down beside her mother again. The lady was mumbling to herself. Rose leaned in to listen to the tumbling words. “An epic of human frailty and dignity … summation of civilization as a whole … influential despite the …” Her eyes were vacant but the rhetoric flowed from a deep recess within her brain. Rose smiled and reached to pat her hand. “I’m glad to know you’re still in there Professor Clayton. I’ve missed you.” She leaned back against the bench and smiled up at the sunny sky.

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

Being Respected vs. Being Liked

Some recent events at school have led me to reflect on the attitudes of my students. Last night at the football game, I saw the stark difference between the treatment my flagline gives me and the treatment that my students give me. A few of my students volunteered to help out at the game and I realized that a lot of the crap that I tolerate with the flagline would not fly in my classroom.

It made me analyze the other teachers at our school as well. On one polar extreme, I see the teacher who wants all of her students to like her. She’s nice to everyone. Students cut her class all the time. No one values her opinion. Her compliments don’t mean much because she only gives compliments. But the students seem to like her.

At the other extreme, I see the teacher that all of the students fear. She criticizes every move of every student. I can’t remember her ever complimenting anyone. Students beg to drop her classes. Whenever we discuss situations in class, she always finds a way to put me down so that she looks good. But the students seem to respect her.

I guess my problem is that I want to be respected and liked. My students seem to like and respect me, but the flagline … not so much. It’s very frustrating. I can’t figure out where I went wrong. Got any suggestions?

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