Sleep for the Wicked

by Jinryu

It’s been a long time since I posted.

Happy New Year everyone!

“Look, look. There.  You see that?” [Terminator] asked. 

I stared, and what was I looking at? It was the tired face of Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier 3.  The visage was caked with dirt in a paste of sweat and blood, and the frozen snarl at the corners of the lips betrayed that, under the ‘perfect soldier’ machine exterior, there was a tired man underneath. 

“That’s how I feel,” said Terminator.  “Every. Day.  And I don’t know why.”

There is something to be said about watching movies like Universal Soldier 3.   The original came out somewhere in the early 90s and I remember watching it, because I liked Van Damme.  As a kid, I was crazy about marital arts films.  Ironically, the only martial artist of note who I didn’t like was Bruce Lee.  But Van Damme? There, you see, was an actor.

He’s come a long way from the glory days of his youth, doing blockbuster titles like Time Cop and Bloodsport, but he’s still kickin’.

Every now and then, my roomies and I watch either an old movie or a B movie.  The fact that we do both old movies and B movies is actually relevant.

We, and by ‘we,’ I am quick to include myself, are part of consumer culture, and part of that dictates that in no small way we’re exposed to the changing world.  I don’t mean necessarily in any humanitarian way– I mean when it comes to science, technology, and especially entertainment. I would leave politics out of it, but frankly, that falls under entertainment.

And generally, one of the best forms of entertainment to stimulate our senses is the kind that’s new and fresh.  I haven’t seen Avatar yet; it’s not for lack of wanting, it’s simply that I haven’t had time and don’t think I exactly want to make time just yet, considering that the theatres are still packed with people watching it for the first or umpteenth time.  But I do want to see it.  Why?  Because apparently the visuals are groundbreaking.

The story, however, is not.

I hear a lot of people complaining about that, actually, but that doesn’t make it bad, does it?

My point is this– what do an old movie and a B movie have in common?

It’s that you know how it’s going to turn out.  It’s predictable.  It follows certain cliches, certain memes, so that when you hear the music you know the knife is next.  You’ve seen so much of it that you just know how it works.

Yet we still watch it.

The reason for that is because if you can develop an appreciation for it, then it’s good– and that which is good can be fun.  We’re not here because it’s original– we’re here because it makes us feel good.  That feeling isn’t something that ever gets old, is it?

On the other hand, 

there are certain times when we don’t want the cliches.  We don’t want our lives to be the mundanity, the routinity, the boringness.  We want to live an exciting life.
But what hold us back?  It’s hard to say.
So why is it that sometimes some people get so caught up with unconvincingly trying to tell me that things are okay, when it’s clear to me that they’re just saying that? Who are they trying to convince, I wonder: it’s hard to tell if it’s me, or themselves.

I was having dinner and drinks with [U1] a couple of Tuesdays ago, and it was fun.  It’s nice to hang out with her because, first of all, unlike most of my guy friends, she is a girl, and offers a unique perspective on things. Not that she’s a feminist or something, but she comes from angles that my male friends either don’t consider or, ironically, don’t have the balls to bring up.
You never really know where life is gonna take you.  She’s recently completed her undergrad in biochemistry, but is now finding that she’s got some interest in the law class she’s taknig for fun at UdeM.  Who knows where we end up?
If I took a look at 10-years-ago me, he probably wouldn’t have thought that he’d end up working in the OR of a Children’s hospital, actually being responsible for important things.
[Zanshin] often asks me this question: do you feel like an adult?
The truth is,  I don’t.  Well, maybe that’s not entierly true– I certainly feel like an adult when I’m paying bills.  But everything else?  It’s a big game to me, and sometimes I feel like an idiot who is just button mashing, trying to make up for strategy or skill with persistence and luck. But, realistically, I suppose whatever gets the win?

And what’s the difference between someone who deserves a Darwin award and someone who doesn’t?  The one who makes the cut is the one who adapts to a situation.  The more fucked up the situation you’re exposed to that you survive, the better you do overal.  You have adapted, and you can now add that kind of crazy situation to the list of things that you know how to survive.
And some of those stories might even make for interesting dinner conversation.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when I feel that I’ve been “penciled” in to someone’s schedule. I mean, don’t get me wrong– I like it when people make the time for me.  And I know that people have busy lives.  But I don’t like it when someone has a busy day, and just fits me in, when they could just say “This other day is better, because then I won’t be rushing.”
I don’t like it when people are rushing to get something over with afterwards.  I don’t like it when people are late either for that same reason.  People who have to rush to get to you or rush to get away from you?  Slow the fuck down, organize your life better.  If I’m not supposed to be on this schedule, don’t put me there– I don’t like half assed attention.

I haven’t really told any of you about how so far, I love the OR.  This wasn’t anything like the transition into ER.  This department involves roughly the same amount of medical staff as down in the ER, but things just function more directly, and more smoothly.
Down at ER, it took me weeks before [Mar], my old boss, found a pair of scrubs for me to use.  When she did, she got me a pair of XXXL ones, when my lean build puts me at Medium on only my fattest days.  In 13 months of working there, nobody in manamagent gave me any straight answer or help about how to get a locker.
At OR, within my first hour of training, I had both a locker and fitted scrubs.
Not only that– but the OR has an automatic scrub exchanger. I’ve got this nifty little magnetic swipe card that I can use to check out fresh scrubs.  Whenever I want them wash, just swipe, deposit dirty scrubs, and exchange for clean ones.  All automated.  I’m certain that the machine isn’t cheap, but meanwhile, downstairs, [Mar] is installing fucking computer trolleys (little wheeled holsters for computer towers— like, where the fuck are we supposed to take these things anyhow? Why do they need wheels? They DON’T!); she’s spending 500$ out of renovation budgets to repaint her office space; she’s having glass panels installed around the department to make it look cooler…. meanwhile, staff in ER are always catching viruses and stuff, and if I had to point fingers I’d say that the fact that we have to launder our own scrubs at home has a lot to do with that.  ER has like… two extra printers and an extra photocopier, wheras, OR makes due even though we don’t have a photocopier, or even a fax machine.  We run with our memos to the nearby departments downstairs.
I think it’s in large part because ER has gotten fat and bloated– it’s the first line, so from a public relations point of view, it’s probably the one that has to be the most spiffy.  OR on the other hand looks decrepit, but it’s sort of like a late years Millenium Falcon– this thing has taken a beating, but it gets the job done, and it’s quick on it’s feet compared to some other ships with all the bells and whistles.
The work is still a bit stressful because I’m always acutely afraid on some level that I’m forgetting something, but [Mick], my trainer, assures me I’m doing a great job.  It’s my 5th day in OR and my training is about a week ahead of schedule (that’s how good Jinryu is at his job).

“It means they have to remove both.”
“Oh, shit.”
“Man, can you imagine that? He’s ten frikkin years old! He’s never even fired that thing before!  He’s never even teabagged anyone yet!”

I unsubscribed from the FML RSS feed, because, frankly, the kinds of stupid shit I find there isn’t even amusing anymore. I mean, sure, some bad things happen, some pretty good moments where somebody gets pretty shafted.  But still, now that I work at the OR, that stuff is pretty lightweight compared to some of the really interesting ways that people get fucked up.

I purchaed an Ion USB Turntable for my dad.  We’ve got a collection of LPs in the basement that were before my time I think– I remember messing around with my dad’s turntable back in the day, but I don’t remember actually listening to an actual record.  There’s one wall of our basement that’s basically lined with LPs.

The turntable I’m buying him operates at 3 speeds, has it’s own built in speakers, and also has as USB hookup so that you can rip your LPs onto your computer.  Now that my dad is retired, I guess I worry a bit that he’s bored at home all the time.  He recently told me that he didn’t want to pay the 60$ admission fee to the Montreal 42km Marathon, which bothers me a bit– it’s not as if we’re strapped for cash, and 60$ certainly isn’t a lot of money.  Which leads me to believe that there’s something else going on in his head, that he doesn’t want to tell me about.

Anyway, I figure, resurrecting the old LP collection might be something fun for him to do.

Ever since he figured out how to use Youtube, his interest in computing has gone up exponentially– last month, I signed him up for his own Gmail account.  He uses it to email my uncle in Ontario.

I think it has a lot to do with the health problems in my family, plus that I’ve worked with both dying youth and dying elderly, but mortality is one of those things that’s ever present in my mind.  It’s a bit tougher, granted, to see people around you growing older, because you’re so close to them. Because I spent time away in Korea though, and now that I’ve moved out and only see my family intermittently, it’s become more apparent how things are changing with time.

I remember, one time, when my dad got into a particulary loud yelling match with my grandparents, that one of my [Aunt SH] asked me to the side, crying– “Always be nice to your grandparents, you got it?”

My dad isn’t a bad person; the fact is that he just has difficulty expressing himself. It’s a problem he inherited from his parents.  As a result, they do say a lot of things that hurt each other– not in that way that leaves you pissed off and feeling righteous, but in the way that if you look closely into their eyes and the way they breathe afterwards, the way that just leaves you feeling tired and old.

I don’t think I’m someone who will handle growing old very well, to be honest with you.  It’s not that I feel old at heart. It’s something that comes up pretty often in some of my conversations with [Zanshin] and [Paladin], as a matter of fact: we don’t feel like adults.  And that is in spite of all the things that I see around me.

The only time I feel old, really, is when I’m injured, sick, or paying bills.


The other day, in my inbox on my desk, was a bucket.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Cool huh?” smirked [Mickey].  She held up the bag.  “It’s cut off right at the middle.”

I read the tag.  It was a surgically detached femur from a ten year old.

Now, maybe I’m a bit fucked up, but whose day wouldn’t be lighter and more joyous with the discovery of a human child’s femur in your inbox?

Seriously though, despite that I take my job and my life seriously, I think it has a lot to do with understanding the rules of the system and then really trying to have fun with it.  I think that the mistake that a lot of people make is to really get too caught up with the rules… they want to play their cards just right so that they hope that they’ll get where they want to be by following formulas that lead from A to B.

In reality, especially in capitalism based north america, we should learn perhaps from the lesson of marketing– not just that you should sell yourself, but that things need to look and feel good.  On one hand, it’s important that you look good to others– but, you know, that’s a simplistic way of looking at it. The point of free market economy wasn’t to just make things pretty– it was meant to provide the playground for competition and innovation that would improove the overal product.

That said, one’s objective shouldn’t just to get noticed or look good– it’s to do something well through innovation; it is to look good through passion; it is to harness a playfulness in your everyday life that trickles down to a product that people will buy from you because they are inspired by the quality of life you exude.

“Staphylococcus aureus is bacteria that lives on human skin and it can also live in the nose. The usual antibiotic used to treat infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus is called methicillin. Some strains of Staphylococcus aureus are not killed by methicillin and are said to be methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)”

A patient came up to OR today with MRSA (known in French as SRAM), which is not great.  It’s what was known in the late 90s as the “hospital superbug” because MRSA infections aren’t killed by pennicilin.  What kinda wigged me out was that there didn’t seem to be a single person in the department who really knew what precautions we should be taking.

I’ve worked in isolation wards even before I started in at the Children’s over a year ago, but…. still.  I can’t help but wonder how this province lives with standards like this!  I can’t blame anyone around me… it’s clearly a management shortcoming.  In general, I think that isolation knowhow seems to be pretty awful over here… the MRSA example today was pretty telling, but there was perhaps an even easier one to draw on: the swine flu pandemic.

Down in ER, when swine flu was in full squeal, things were just handled in a retarded retarded way.  (Jump to the months in question in old entries and you’ll hear no end to my bitching.)

I dropped by ER a little while ago to visit my friends in the Admissions office.  I stopped by the main ER as well, but to be honest… the people who were working day shift are the people I have the least of a relationship with.  There are fulltimers with positions during the day shift, and those people are just tired of their lives or something.  One of them didn’t even turn up when I said hello, she was so used to the practice of ignoring people standing in front of her while she was on the phone.  The other said hello, how’s it going, and that was all, so I didn’t stick around.

The people in Admissions though, I got along with those folks really well. Maybe it was because I didn’t have to work with them directly, and that we had very different tasks– that way, we could never mutually see how lazy we were, and since we were on good terms, it was the sort of relationship where we’d run into eachother and pretty much exchange professional services, like a buncha mercs who had agendas made understandable through money.

Most of my friends during the day shift are hence in the admissions office.  It’s unfortunate that my current hours don’t allow me to run into the evening and night crews though– I guess when my job hours switch to 10 to 6, things will be nicer like that.

I ran into my former boss and she tried to make pleasant.

“Oh, hello stranger!” and then she introduced me to the person she was speaking to as “oh, he used to work here, but he abandonned us.”

In my head, my subconscious, trained in years years of videogaming, reflexively generated an image of me drop kicking her in the face.  Thankfully, years of martial arts training reflexively held me back.

Passive aggressive shit like that reminds me about why the ER was a shitty place to work.  There are a lot of things to love about the place, especially the public you serve and the people who work alongside you to serve that public, but there are those who spend so much time with arms crossed having improptu hallway meetings that you just… you wonder why.  MRSA precuations are one thing– that’s an ignorance thing on the part of employees that’s not necessarily their fault.  But wasting time? Politicking?  All day? That was a problem with my former boss that I couldn’t stand.  It’s no wonder that the ER has such a high turnover of employees.

I should probably mention that I’m lucky to have made the final decision to switch to the OR.  But, I can’t claim all the credit.

I mean, sure, there’s a lot of benefit to being a daywalker again (at least, as soon as I’ve acclimated completely– sunlight still triggers a sleep reflex in me…).  At first, I hesitated because of other reasons though– I’d really found my niche in the overnight work: free food; a great nursing team; independence of operation; a relatively easy workload; better pay.

So why did I switch?  I think she felt guilty at the time, so I assured her she wasn’t the only reason– but the fact is, the main reason I switched was so that I could spend more time with [Supergirl].

I’m not used to this, really.  I like to think of myself as being really independent and free minded, but I need to be able to spend time with her.

These past few months that’s she’s been away in Asia have been some of the toughest months of my life, and certainly the toughest in our relationship.  We’ve gotten into fights, we’ve argued, I’ve made her cry… but somehow we always bounce back.

I think she might actually love me for the cold hearted, fucked up bastard that I am.  And I love her right back.

Why wouldn’t I quit a job for that?
I think that this is the way I always thought it should be– that having someone, really, having someone, for this or that, however you want to say it– results in everything simply being better.
How can I ever feel tired?