Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday Morning.

The plastic alarm next my warm, pillow-topped bed clicks on and The Rolling Stones serenade me out of my slumber, telling me "I can't get no satisfaction." With the blink of an eye the night has escaped me like Houdini handcuffed in a watertight box. I roll to my side, sigh, and fumble for the snooze button. Half asleep, my eyes still soggy from sleep and my mind full of fresh memories from the dreams before, I quickly do an algebraic equation in my head to determine how many more times I can hit the snooze button.

The metal tags on my dog's collar rattle and I hear him stir from his embroidered nest on the floor. The sun casts its shadow on the window at the head of my head and the neighbor's dog barks at the white, plastic security door, pleading to be let back in the house.

I can delay the inevitable no longer and throw the down filled comforter off my warm, well rested body. The shock of the cold air stings and I am forced to quickly jump out of bed and start my day. I swing my feet off to the side, bend down to pet my dog "good morning", and stand. My day has begun.

The bathroom is still warm from my wife, the condensation dripping from the ceiling and the floor damp with fresh water. The mirror is fogged and the chrome on the sink glistens like morning dew of my front yard after a fresh May rain shower.

I slide myself into the shower and the warm water blankets my dry skin and begins to rejuvenate my soul. I wash away all the worries from the night and cleanse myself, preparing for the week ahead. I am awake now and, unfortunately, I can disdain reality no more.

The rest of the morning passes in a blur. My workweek has begun and the carefreeness of the weekend past is now just a distant memory.

My hands grip the leather steering wheel as I weave in and out of Sunday morning traffic. Like a hidden voyeur on an Italian beach, I admiringly gaze into the vehicles of passer-byers. "Where are they going? What are they doing? Why can't that be me”? All fleeting thoughts in my clear mind as I drive down the highway.

With the light morning Sunday traffic I arrive to work much earlier than expected. I slowly ease my SUV down the street like a suspicious solicitor looking for a house to rob. I find a meter across from the garage and ease my truck backwards in between a large Land Rover and a silver Honda hybrid. I don't have to pay today because it is Sunday. The classical music from my stereo softy plays from the large black speakers in the door. Tchaikovsky's symbolic serenade about conquering the New World is abruptly, and symbolically, ended with a slam of my door.

I swipe my white badge reader on the dulled, black reader outside the nondescript metal door. It beeps and a light flashes from red to green. Entrance, once again, has been allowed.

I step forward, cross the metal threshold of the entrance and my eyes dilate. The steam from the carwash and the dimly lit fluorescent bulbs coldly slap me in the face as I enter. An ambulance is backed into the wash bay directly in front of me by someone wearing all blue who seems to be practicing graffiti in the streaking wet, dirt on the side of the boxed vehicle.

In the not-so-far distance music is playing loudly from another ambulance being stocked in the next ambulance bay. All its doors are open and, even though it is early in the morning on a Sunday, it sounds like a Saturday night at a downtown club. The ambulance vibrates and the papered cones of the speakers split, as they are unable to sustain the vibration from the Hip-Hop music being transmitted from the FM radio.

The concrete ceiling, the concrete walls, the concrete floor are all cold and damp. Warmth does not exist here and each step has to be carefully placed, as to avoid the wads of spit sprinkled on the floor like landmines.

I make myy way to my ambulance and find my partner in the back. Personal belongings are sitting in the driver's seat, insinuating to me that they would prefer to drive -again. I unload my pack like a Sherpa on the base camp of Everest, find my computer, slide my radio in its holster, and close my eyes.

Here we go again.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Saturday Night.

Saturday night and the sun slowly sets behind my water stained wooden fence. The orange hue of the fading sun floats lazily from north to south like stagnant smoke from a cigarette. The Rocky Mountains hold the remaining minutes of daylight hostage and its glowing warmth radiating from the white snowcaps prolongs my day a few more minutes.

The brown eyes of my golden dog casually look up from the white, hollow bone between his long legs as he licks out the peanut butter filling. One quick glance as he lays in the brown, brittle grass of the backyard and a conversation of one thousands words is exchanged. He sees right through me, can see into my soul, and is sympathetic towards how I feel.

My wife’s warm hands hug a labeled pint glass of fresh raspberry iced tea. Her legs propped comfortably on the bench seat of our deck –shoes off, her head rocking back and forth as she illustrates a story of words with her body to her mother on the other end of the telephone line. I glance at her, she smiles.

An old blues song hovers from inside the house. The light, fluorescent from the lamps, blankets the two kittens cuddling in the sill of the wooden window. Their gray, spotted coats lean against the black mesh screen and they wish with all their lives that they, too, could be outside.

A single engine plane tugs in the distance, its engine churning furiously to keep the plane above ground and its occupants safe from the world below. The shadow precedes the noise and the silhouette dances across the suburban rooftops like a rabbit running from a vicious canine.

The clouds hover gracefully above my head, teasing my imagination into creating images remembered from the warm summer days of my childhood. Floating between the still, naked branches of the dormant winter trees in my backyard the vastness of the sky, the birds, the clouds, and the squirrel that lives in my Aspen, all taunt me into seriously re-examining my faith. They look at me and ask me to ask the questions that everyone should examine in their own lives. They remind that there is more to life than an occupation. That it is the journey itself that life is about.

But, with the inevitability of a Death Row conviction, the second hand of time marches forward regardless of my emotion. The sun sets, the moon rises, the day ends and my mood changes. Sullen. Sad. A little stressed. It is my Sunday night on this Saturday eve and tomorrow I will return to work. Tomorrow my shield goes up and I will try and protect what little inner salvation I have left from this draining job.

The wild things are out there -waiting ominously. Managers, coworkers, passer-byers, and patients all feverishly rubbing their hands together like a villain in a silent film, all waiting and hoping to stain my soul with their very own sadness, anger, and immaturity. My shield will be ready and my strength renewed.

I sigh, stand and open my flimsy screen door into the family room. Where did the weekend go?

And why can't I do this for a living?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Trying it again.

I'm gonna try it again.

1 a week. 4 a month. 48 a year.

This time, a whole lot more honest.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Coffee Shop.

My dirty green SUV, with dog toenail scratches on the passenger side door and greasy, light-brown grime from the previous blizzard of more than five months ago, eases slowly into the most appropriate, almost-closest parking space in the cramped lot. Nestled between an SUV and another SUV, the reflections of a yellow building on a developing hill blind my eyes. I squint and fall out of my trusty steel, grabbing my Mountainsmith Man Purse before I clod my way up the newly laid pavement to my new local coffee shop. The eager-for-business Veterinarian inside the new building, made of glass windows and doors, waves as he relaxes in his office chair with the very cup of cold java that I intend to sip on while I write this narrative. I love the suburbs.

You see, I'm back from a month’s vacation and have some writing to do. And what better place to pen a story than from the hip, beatnik inspired, soulful coffee cafe. The sad thing is, I don't like coffee.

That yellow building, soon to be a fitness center or organic grocery store or locally owned incense store, ricochets the reflection of that fiery yellow ball in the sky, deflecting the heated rays directly into the large windowpanes of the coffee shop. Giving the cafe the effect of, which really uneases me, a large two-way mirror. The suburbanite hipsters can all see out and assumingly all gather round to "once-over" the new guy approaching from the parking lot.

"He looks like Oscar on that old show, you know the messy guy."

"God, what's he doing here? Doesn't he know this is a cafe, not an outdoor store?"

"Ohh isn't that cute. He brought his laptop. Maybe he wants to be a writer."

I grab the aluminum handle of the glass door and swing it open. Time stands still.

Left foot in, then the right. The door swings closed violently quick and bumps me in the rear. My olive Old Navy cargo pants swat my posterior as the pressure in the cafe, like on a jet plane, is re-established. All eyes on me.

I scan, like the Terminator, to find a reasonable seat. It needs to be small and surrounded by at least two walls. Near an electrical outlet, preferably. No large cushy chairs and no bar tables, I'm here to write and need to be comfortable. My attention need be one hundred and ten percent, for I have written nothing in a month.

In the corner, near an outlet and next to one of those uncomfortably large den chairs is my table. Every other seat in the house is taken, so it has to be my table. The guy ahead of me, probably a poetry major or one of those people that rap text from old school literature books, also sees the one and only remaining table. I cut like A.I. (Allen Iverson) between the green wood chairs and the group of aging women discussing what happened today at their Botox seminar.

I step over a red Mountainsmith bag identical to mine. "Nice bag," I say to myself as I see the owner is a woman, and she is using it as a purse. Three large steps, a wiggle of the waist, and a slow saunter, I put my bag on the table. VICTORY! I may be new here, but I'm a paramedic damn-it! I deal with emergencies.

An evil leer meets my eye as I pass the looser as he seats himself in one of those ginormous leather chairs, not conducive to a laptop. Even though they are laptops.

I'm greeted at the counter with a smile. "Welcome, what can I get you to drink?" The young girl smocked in a large black apron asks.

"Uhm, well I don't reaqlly like coffee," I say out loud. "I'm really here to use the atmosphere to ignite my renewed fury for writing." I say to myself.

I grab my twenty ounce, venti, iced, chai, latte, no frills, no whip, no coffee drink and take my winner's lap slowly back to my table. The spoils have gone to the victor! And those spoils are one cold, non-coffee drink and a nice, little, wooden table in the corner. Next to an outlet.

I pull out from my man purse my white laptop -actually it is my wife's. But, regardless of the true owner, the white color of this laptop alone billboards the fact that regardless of how I dress, that I have fashion. The transparent apple on the lid illuminates as it "wakes up."

With my chai to my left, my Blackberry to my right (in case my wife calls), and my computer center-stage I prepare to write. Dave Matthews sings about some American Baby and my mental groove is set. Let the stories begin.

My eyes wander to my left. The looser of the chase sits sullen in that large, leather chair. His 20-pound Dell bobs up and down rhythmically on his Polo'd shirt belly. He can't focus. He can't type. He has no place to sit his drink and his knees are aching to scratch his chin, they're so close. His hair is reminiscent of that old poster from the '60's, the one with John, George, Paul, and the other guy all wearing black suits and standing in an English street. Bowl cuts must have been the fad back then. I look at the looser of my recent, non-televised Amazing Race and begin to feel sorry for him. "He should have been faster, smarter, stronger." I say to myself.

My laptop screen in white, as white as the plastic cover advertising it's sought after brand.

My eyes are caught once again. It's the commuting community college kid wearing a black tee with silver writing on his chest stating, "zero." At first glance, his white ear buds tucked into his large, round ears lead all to believe that what is being pumped into his head are downloaded tunes from his iPod. This is not the case. He, the man sitting in front of me, is a complex riddle of assumptions. I can see his screen and notice little boxes scattered throughout his desktop. As confusing as he is to me, he is very popular with others. And in each little box he types feverishly, conversations with possibly people from around the world, or just across the cafe.

Back to my screen. Nothing. I don't even have any friends to fill my screen up with little chat boxes. I sip from my disappearing Chai and Sheryl Crow strums her acoustic as she wails about every time she hears the rolling thunder.

Again, mine eyes are distracted. This time it's the red-capped lesbian sitting in the adjacent corner looking at all the girls as they pass. Mr. Zero and Ms. Red Cap scan the room simultaneously, both locking onto the same targets -the girl with the red bandana on her head, the girl crouched over a table with her bosom hanging out, and the black-smocked apron girls gallivanting about the cafe. Another Amazing Race is about to begin.

Back to the screen. Nothing. Miles Davis croons on his horn as Herbie Hancock tickles the ivories. Impromptu jazz at its best. My mind wanders up and down as the walking bass line hypnotizes me into another lull. I shake it off like a punch from George Foreman and steady my mind. It is time to write.

The sun is now setting behind the blue and white mountain tops to the west. The air is clean and my chai is gone. I came her to relax and have been distracted at every attempt to tap on my keyboard. Ray Charles is now singing the blues. I have lost all motivation to write. I want to be an old, blind, bluesman.

I close the lid to my laptop and shake the beads of water off the bottom of my clear plastic cup. My Blackberry is tucked back into the front right pocket of my cargo pants, the wife never called. I grab my man purse, slyly looking about for other women misusing the same bag for its unintended purposes -a purse. I stand, turn, and slowly walk out from my corner of this passing, frenetic world.

As I exit I turn to make sure I retrieved all my items, it's the OCD in me. And already sitting in my seat, laptop open and drink on the table is the bowl-cut Beatle wanna-be. I nod to him as I exit.

Maybe it wasn't he who lost the race. He is a professional cafe-goer and can confidently sit in that same seat and accomplish his goals. His fingers dance on the keyboard as I exit, my rear once again being slapped uncomfortably as I exit the building.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

This is only a job.

I slide my new black shoes onto my warm, damp feet. The cotton from my socks stick to my sweaty feet and makes it even more difficult to easily slide them into the steel-toed shoes. I'm already wearing my blue cargo pants and a blue, cotton tee. My black belt already interlaced between the small loops encircling my waistband and supporting two leather items; a holster for my flashlight and a mechanical metal and leather contraption created to hold my portable radio. That is all that is on my waist. I am no superhero with a hidden identity setting out to save the world from deranged villains. I am just a paramedic.

The hot sun is already unbearable this morning. It shines through the tinted window of my elevated rear lift gate, canopied open so as to protect me from the elements as I finish putting my uniform on. In the back, in a bag, are the tools needed to successfully manage my ten-hour shift. Tools only. Enhancers allowing me to more easily do my job. A stethoscope, tangled in a knot from my previous shift. A pager, allowing me to recall where we need to go and giving me pertinent billing information. And a little green book. My diary of drugs and drug names.

Finally, before putting on my white work uniform shirt, I secure over my thorax a bulletproof vest. Again, not because I am there to heroically protect a damsel in distress as a speeding bullet courses it's way towards it's objective, but because I am scared. Scared I may be the one who gets hurt. Scared that someone more powerful, much meaner, and with a lot less to loose might take out his life frustrations on me. I am just a paramedic. This is only a job.

I shut the gate and push the green button on my remote to lock the doors. The yellow lights flash and I turn to cross the street.

I walk into the moderately climate-controlled garage and swipe my badge. I clock-in. It's a blue-collar job guised by white shirts and bright lights. I am going to sweat, lift, poke, carry, and physically work my way through this ten hour, hourly-waged day. There is nothing intoxicating or mysterious about that.

Orange handles of trauma sheers are tucked in the waistbands of others. Trauma sheers not placed there for their physical purpose to later cut and expose, but for their mental support and reassurance. Their tactical belts securing their tactical BDU's full of tactical toys. Hundred dollar flashlights, the size of an index finger, originally created for gun-yielding SWAT members, are showcased around the waists next to the little black pouches, multiple pagers, cell phones and other trinkets not to be used for the remainder of the day.

I exit into the bright light of the sun's heat and quickly begin my day.

I'm sent to my destiny at the discretion of the dispatchers. I am just a bleep on the computer screen, a hypothetical tool on their arsenal around their waist.

Thoughout the day I encounter multiple paramedics with multiple agencies. Some wearing only T-shirts with stenciled white lettering, some in blue, button-up polyester shirts, and some more formally dressed with a badge on their breast.

All of them, though, tell misguided stories of mishap that float suffocatingly in the air. The feelings of the true hero that recently lay on their bed ignored. Memories of familial and patient respect are quickly treaded upon as the ego-stroking stories are swapped between staggering paramedics. One story always better, and one more unbelievable than the next. Like roosters in a pen, tail feathers plume wildly.

And all the while, the elderly one who called, and is slowly loosing his battle, sits quietly on the bed. Another notch on their belts and another story to exaggerate, he sits respectfully and honorably.

He has stories to tell, but doesn't. He remembers storming a beach, or jumping from a plane, or being shot, or working two jobs twelve hours a day, or standing in line for food, or having to walk -not ride. He, the quiet one before them, to me, is the truly better man, for he doesn't reminisce or tell tall fables, he just lives his life, honestly.

So, I am no hero. Don't call me a hero or even think that I may be. I am not better than you and my job does not elevate my standing in this world. I am no superhero and have no intention of being one. Just because I wear a uniform and drive around the city with flashing lights does not make me better, or truer, or more deserved than you. I whine and cry and am scared of things to come.

And although I may wear that white collared uniform that others stain with grandeur, I realize that it’s only a blue collared world we live in. And all the tall tales, large egos, and staggered gait doesn't change that fact.

I am better than no one.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thank You's are in order.


I've been nominated for a blog award.

And in this blog world, this is actually very suprising to me. I feel like the geeky kid in the corner of gym that was, suprisingly, asked to dance with the hottest cheerleader in the school. No one saw it coming, especially me.

So, thank you.

OH, by the way, I was asked to dance by Monkey Girl, at Musings of a Highly Trained Monkey Read it. It's good!

Here is what she said:

Rocky Mountain Medic. This is one of the best written blogs out there. He is an incredible writer, and I can literally picture whatever he's writing about. I wish he had time to write more, because I could read it all day. Some of the things that he writes give you goosebumps, some just make you think, some make you laugh. He's multi-purpose.


Below, is an explaination of the award.


"This award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy… of knowing them and being blessed by them.”
Here are the rules for this one:

1. Copy this post (meaning the rules).
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.

So here are my 5!

1) Random Acts of Reality.

It was this site that got me started. I had never been a big blog reader, but when I read about the life and times of this London-based EMS service, I was hooked. It's amazing that across that large pond of ours that the same type of experiences are occurring with someone else in my same profession. Differenct accent, same ole crap! Check him out here!

2) Musings of a Highly Trained Monkey.

Of course, even though she nominated me, this site is on my list of favorites. She is ABSOLUTELY hillarious. I love the wit and sarcasm and am jealous my tongue is not as sharp. I promise you, once you start reading, you won't stop. Musings of a Highly Trained Monkey

3) A day in the Life on an Ambulance Driver.

This guy is a great writer. It was the Englishman that got me started, it was the Ambulance Driver that kept me going. In the beginning, he supported me and the majority of my links and readers came from him. He tells wonderful stories and is sure to impress. Ambulance Driver

4) Mr. Hassle's Long Underpants.

A doc with his ear to the gorund. Great stories. I love going to his site. Plus, he's from the Rockies. Mr. Hassle's

5) Street Watch: Notes of a Paramedic.

Wanna learn something? And enjoy it? Go to this site. A great mix of personal essays with CE quality lessons. I enjoy reading his posts. He is a very informed and intelligent paramedic. Street Watch

Monday, July 9, 2007

Baptism.

The stained, dust-ridden, electrical glass doors whish open, inviting the new out-of-towners into a world they never knew existed. A world they won't be able to wait to leave.

The wheelchair pushing the initiate, graffitied with white paint on the back and advertising the name of the hospital, is cautiously wheeled over the metal door frames into the foyer of this altered world by the close friend of the unfortunate one seated.

A silver, rectangular-boxed wall fan circulates the stale, urine-soaked air in this suffocating entryway. It's the doormat of this amazing underworld that passerbyers wipe their feet on. And, like the blessed holy water in that marbled pedestal, all that enter are baptized into this new, dream-like, chaotic world.

The tracks of the electronic door scratch as the glass doors close behind them. Like a book falling from a shelf and slamming onto the aged, wooden floor, a loud thud advertises those who have passed through have now come forth.

The two women jump uneasily as their arrival is announced.

"Lighters? Matches? Knives? Guns? Do you have any of those?" The security guard, gloved in sea-blue gloves fondles the pockets, waistband, and ankles of these new initiates. A glance at one another and a furrow of their brows initiates a quick, justifying quip by the security guard, "You can never be to safe, ladies."

Another whish, scratch, and thud.

Longhaired and greasy, with his hands cuffed behind his back stands a mediocre man in jean shorts and a striped, Izod crew. No socks and untied shoes. No belt. Stains of tears chalk his red cheeks. Two men, badged in green short-sleeved polyester shirts flank his sides. Pressed and tucked, official and important, these two chaperones of justice are but transient visitors in this chaotic world.

An oversized wheelchair strolls backwards from the triage desk. Backwards, and with disregard, it forges its way into the ever-tightening lobby of the women's altered world. Its grey handle pokes the pleats of the cotton skirt of the friend with the friend. Her eyes bulge and her body stiffens. She steps closer to the resemblance of the world she once knew and squeezes her hand.

"Say my brother, what happened to your feet?" His IV tubing filling with blood as he holds the bag shoulder level like a tray of hors d'ourves. He is strolling the linoleumed floor crammed with beds. His eyes are on the exit.

A grunt and a miff. The bloody-faced transient with matted hair stares emptily into the inquisitors face. His amputated feet are gift wrapped in the full-length red sweats, knotted at the cuffs. He turns and rolls onto his side, pressing his face into the stains of blood on the sheet.

The two women from out of town clutch one another as though walking down a dark alley in Gotham. One, confused as to exactly what is happening in this world, quietly exclaims justifications as to why she doesn't feel she belongs here.

"We're from out of town. Our friends are shopping."

Whish. Scratch. Thud.

"Excuse me, sir. EXCUSE ME, SIR! Have you been discharged?" Security amasses the fleeing, IV'd patron and corals him back into the world that he obviously belongs. His IV tubing now full of blood. The bag, resting on his shoulder like a wool scarf in fall, pinkens with the mixture of blood and saline.

"Ladies," he says with a tip of his imaginary hat.

They clutch one another. And with the obvious bond like those on a sinking ship, or a crashing plane, or a burning building, they move sure-footedly forward into the center of the triage area, next in line for the hurried triage nurse.

"Medical Assessment triage, medical assessment triage!" Crackled overhead by a tired guard, this welcome summons the charge nurse once again.

They take some deep breaths and hold one another tight. They can see the depths of this frightening world. Clocks drip from the wall like Salvador Dali's imagination and people's faces silently scream like the expressionist painting by Munch of the man screaming affront a blood red sky. All seven layers of hell are visible from where they stand.

The charge approaches and mumbles with another nurse in the tight quarters. The look at one another, then the foreign women, then at one another again. Their future is determined and like the gavel of a courtroom judge on his wooden bench, their room number is assigned with a loud rap. "Room number 11, please."

The wheelchair is unlocked and its occupant is once again pushed farther into the underworld. And, with the loyalty of a Golden Retriever, her one and only friend, the one who could be shopping now with their other friends, clutches her hand even tighter and shadows her down the hall.

"We're from out of town. We could be shopping, now." She says, as they slide deeper into their own nightmare.