Saturday, March 5, 2011

On Not Upsetting the Society

Here's a poem I read today on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac ( ). What really struck me was the line I highlighted below in green. I love to play games - cards, Scrabble, dice, bowling - and I love to win. But I don't like to beat someone so badly that they are demoralized. Sometimes I will ease up to avoid doing that very thing. I always saw this as a character flaw but after reading this poem, I think I understand now that there are unwritten rules, maybe just among women (?), that allow us to enjoy the game but not upset the society. Hmmmm...

Diamond Lake Bowling

by Tim Nolan

In the seventh frame projected
on an overhead screen, my father,
Pat N., has a 180 working on a spare.

My mother, Marge N., is just ahead
of Gladys P. and far ahead of Yvonne K.,
who sings in the church choir and doesn't

take this game too seriously. My mother,
Marge N., doesn't take the game
too seriously, but she has a 158

working on a strike, which is fine,
and seems to be enough to beat
Gladys P. and Yvonne K. My mother wants to beat them by a narrow margin— enough to win—but not upset their society, which matters among them most of all.

The men—Bill P., Jack K., and my father,
Pat N., are serious bowlers. They each
release the ball in their own ways,

with controlled madness. Then they wait
for a lacquered thunder to come crashing
down like museum skulls. What a mess!

The women approach the line with quick,
tentative steps, as if they were naked,
covering themselves, then letting go.

Yvonne K. sings "Ave Maria" at funerals.
Makes everyone weep. Here, she is
without talent and gets no action

from the pins—which slowly fall
in soft and mid-age stupor.
My heart echoes in a memory cavern

as I gaze at the blue and broad
Hollywood curtain along the sidewall.
My parents turn to me across the way.

Dear lively eyes of them. My first faces.
Always surprised to see me.
How can I explain this sense, become

serious, that we are picking up speed,
rolling in upon ourselves, and falling
alone down this noisy, inevitable lane?

"Diamond Lake Bowling" by Tim Nolan, from The Sound of It. © New Rivers Press, 2008.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Skewing the Demographic

On Monday I return to academia after a 27-year absence. I will be a full-time Nurse Practitioner/ Masters student at the University of California, San Francisco. Last night I attended the local chapter meeting of the California Association of Nurse Practitioners and, ever the joiner, I am now a student member. For the first time in my life I had a moment of sadness that I am 56 years old and will therefore have a shorter career as an NP than most of the others in the room. But I love to learn new things and it will be exciting to study advanced pharmacology and pathophysiology in the context of having 27 years of experience as an RN, much different than memorizing signs and symptoms of diseases I hadn't even heard of in nursing school. (Tip for all you nursing students: "coma and death" are always correct choices when quizzed on side effects of medications.) I find myself worried about being too old to do this thing and wonder if I go back to dying my hair, will it make me feel younger? As I contemplate this, I realize that blonde is the new gray. It seems that many women my age are going blonde, instead of whatever color they were before they became silver. My hair stylist and friend Pam says people shouldn't go blonde if they never were natural blondes; I was tow-headed when I was 2 years old. Does that count? Anyway, I am eating my fruits and vegetables, getting exercise, going to bed early and celebrating 31 years of wedded bliss next week. AND skewing the demographic at the University of California. Whoo hoo!

Monday, July 6, 2009

No windmill-tilting going on here

I have been in the Pacific Northwest - far from home - for 2-1/2 weeks, visiting my daughter, son-in-law and new granddaughter, Ginger Rae Beall. We have progressed from sitting in an exhausted daze while rocking the baby to putting her in the swing and playing Bananagrams, all by day 18 of her life on Earth. Today I rocked her and drank a fine ale from Alaska while listening to endless replays and critique of Caribou Barbie's Iquitarod. At least the beer from Alaska is enjoyable.
As I began to wonder if I would even remember how to do wound care, the harp-music ringtone sounded from my phone and I knew that my office spouse needed me. He had a simple question to which I knew the answer and even knew that the required dressing was already in the patient's home, because I had left it there weeks ago, and I have an excellent memory for these things. It made me realize that I still love wound care and going back to work next Monday will be OK. Besides, through the wonders of Facebook I've learned that without me there to mediate (as the #1 spouse), there is unrest among the other spouses in the office harem. There is talk of legal separation. I shall return to windmill tilting in the nick of time.