M minus 3

It would appear that some sites will accept anything submitted to them:

Your Poem has been published at Magnetic Poetry site.
From: poetmaster@magneticpoetry.com <poetmaster@magneticpoetry.com>
To: Salamander@deardiary.net <Salamander@deardiary.net>
Date: Fri, 3 Oct 2003 08:50:56 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Your Poem has been published at Magnetic Poetry site.
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The poem you submitted to Online Anthology has been published.

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Magnetic Poetry.

On a whim, I submitted one of my magnetic poetry poems to the magnetic poetry web site. Those of you on my notify list will find the link to my poem on the site in my last notify letter to you. I’ll give the link to most anyone who asks me via email, if you aren’t on my notify list. Feel free to vote for the poem while visiting the site. Enough votes will get it featured as magnetic poetry of the week. This could actually be the pinnacle of my adult writing career.

It was a difficult day at work. Last night the husband of a woman I work with died. He hadn’t been ill, though he did have diabetes (thought to be well controlled) and a slight heart problem. He saw his doctor on a regular basis, and there had been no sign that this was imminent.

The death has cast a shadow over everyone’s actions today. M’s husband was known and well liked by our department, and was very good friends with a few of the guys I work with. At the lunch table, we only spoke in sporadic bursts. When the conversation would really get going, someone would crack a joke, and everyone would laugh for a split second or so. We’d all suddenly remember about M’s husband, and abruptly stop laughing. There’s an unofficial temporary suspension on gaiety; we all feel strangely about taking any enjoyment in the day, knowing what M must be going through.

I feel an inexplicable guilt along with the sadness. The guy was only 54, and doing everything right. He was fit, he ate properly, he exercised, he was a genuinely good man. Why him, and not me? My rational me knows that the cosmic scales don’t balance to any known algorithm. My emotional me has a problem with grasping the fact that living well and being the best human being you can be doesn’t give you any guarantee that bad things won’t happen to people.

There’s a chance I’ll get to go to North Carolina December 11-13 for a Homeland Security symposium. I’m hoping this works out, though it’s close enough to the holidays that I won’t be totally crushed if my request doesn’t make it through the approval process. It would be in Research Triangle Park, and I have friends living close to there. Had friends living close to there. Might have friends living close to there.

What happens to mutual friends after a divorce? I know that, theoretically, everybody stays friends with everybody else. It didn’t seem to work that way with my divorce though. The Engineer and I parted ways amicably enough, but friendships seemed to get divided up like the dishware and linens. It wasn’t ever anything formal, it just happened. J and E were close friends for years. I tried to get in touch with them shortly after the divorce, just to say hi and keep the lines of communication open. I never heard back. And since I fear emotional rejection even more than I fear organ rejection, I never pursued why they remained silent. Did I have the right email address? Did my message get deleted accidentally? Did they choose not to respond? Am I blamed for hurting The Engineer, and now persona non grata? I figure that if there’s a chance that I’m not going to like the answer, I shouldn’t ask the question. So I never asked. Now there’s a chance I’ll be within a mile of them, and I don’t know if I should get in touch or not.

The Mouth is apparently over whatever disease was plaguing her, and I have been forced to open my door to the rest of the world again. She bounded into my office this afternoon to tell me all about some good news that she’d gotten confidentially.

This bothers me. The information is supposed to be confidential, but she’ll tell it on the sly to half of our department before the official announcement is made. Considering some of the people she talks to, this creates a major potential for leaks. And I do not appreciate being on the short list as a leak, just because The Mouth can’t keep her vocal cords from vibrating.

At any rate, I didn’t respond very enthusiastically to her good news. I looked up from my typing only long enough to observe that there’s a cloud around every silver lining. I’m not sure she got it, but I certainly felt better.

Before I proceed, I want to make a point of acknowledging there are two sides to every side of a story. (Sometimes there are more than two sides, actually.) Following is my version of events. Anyone reading who wishes to submit a different version of events should feel free to do so in the comment section.

Last night at dinner I approached The Socialist with a request. I’d been dreading making this request, because I knew how he was going to react. It’s truly a matter of life and death though, and I couldn’t just put it off forever. I asked him to please get a flu shot this season.

I cannot get the flu. I’ve gone from being a reasonably healthy adult to somebody who falls into the “infants, elderly and immunosuppressed” category. The flu is a nasty nuisance to everyone else, but with my new status as a medical misfit comes the unhappy reality that the flu could be fatal to me. At the very least it would land me in the hospital yet again, and lose me yet more time from work.

The Socialist, however, has an intense dislike of needles. He has just as intense a dislike for doctors. I know he loves me because he was able to force himself into the hospital to visit me after my surgery; this was not an easy task for him. This goes beyond the usual macho “I don’t need no stinkin’ doctor” shtick that men like to spout. This is closer to actual fear and dismay.

Do I have to?

Yes, you have to. If you brought the flu home, it could kill me.

Do I have to go to a doctor?

No, not necessarily. They usually have community clinics where you can get the shot, or your college might be offering them.

Do I have to get a shot?

Well yeah. That’s why they call them “flu shots”.

What about that nasal thing they have. Can’t I get that?

If you can find a place that offers it. It was experimental, and is only available in limited amounts. And you’ll have to go to the doctor’s office to get it – that won’t be offered at the college or at a community clinic.

Why do they always give shots in the arm? They always hurt, and it will keep me from working out.

What, you want it in the butt? I’m sure that can be arranged.

Those needles they use are huge. Why do they have to use such large needles?

Look, I don’t ask you for that much. You have to get this flu shot.

I think, in the end, he agreed. You’d think I was asking him to perform self-castration with a blunt butter knife without benefit of anesthesia though.

Obstinance, thou art a Y-chromosome.

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  1. Oh, I have gone, read and rated. Lovely poem. 🙂 I’m sorry about your coworkers husband and also about your survivor guilt! :/ Some things in life just suck. I wish they would let me arrange things. Well, I say that. But I’m secretly glad "they" don’t. I don’t need that responsibility.

    Tell the Socialist it doesn’t hurt that much. For the past two years, I’ve even been able to get my spouse to do them, and he would rather his toes fall off than see a doctor about his ingrowns.

  2. I went, I read, I rated.

    I’m curious; after the Socialist gets the shot do you have to stay away from him for any period of time just to make sure the shot doesn’t make him sick?

    Divorce: when I got divorced the ex-husband got custody of all the old friends. Which turned out in the long run to be the best thing for me……I became schmuck free =)

  3. They have the nose spray avaiable here in Oregon through your doctor. I hear that the cost is fairly high, approximately $50, as opposed to the shot which is about $8.

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your co-workers’ husband. That would be a very difficult situation around the lunch table. Sometimes people react to grief differently and laughing is one of them.

    Best of luck to the Socialist. It only hurts for a moment.


  4. Remind me to tell you some time about Mr Kimi and the gamma globulin. Thick as toothpaste, both buttocks. Fortunately he’s not remotely squeamish or medicophobic.

    You could always offer The Socialist the castration alternative – though that wouldn’t help you with the ‘flu risk. It’d probably be preferable just to make sure he Gets That Shot ASAP. I imagine he’d find the guilt infinitely more painful than the shot.

    I tracked down your poem and rated it up 🙂

    A few years ago one of the nicest people I’d ever known died of leukemia. He was a friend and former workmate of Mr Kimi’s, and Mr Kimi had visited him in hospital as he slowly faded away. Even in T’s last months he was thinking of other people; he was calm, good-humoured, and uplifting to be with. He was only 45. I don’t understand, but I feel privileged to have known him.

    I’ve experienced the divorce thing from the other side. A couple we were friends with for years have drifted away from us since they divorced. I don’t know why, but if it made them uncomfortable there’s no point pushing it. Maybe neither of them liked us, but put up with us for their partner’s sake 🙂

    I hope to read that The Socialist has Had That Shot in an imminent entry. Nagging is justified 🙂

  5. The sneakiness has been unsneaked. I didn’t even notice that when I did it last night. I must’ve been more tired than I thought!

    Hey, that double sided tape works REALLY well in keeping my eyes opened. I’m going through saline eyedrops awfully fast though…


  6. re flu shots: If the purpose of a flu shot is to prevent one from getting ill, isn’t the shot important for *you* to get? I’m assuming that if you’re immunized, and this presupposes they’re even correct on which strain is going to prevail this winter, doesn’t this prevent you from getting ill? Is this something they advise people in your condition, or is this your own thought.

    Of course, I would do it for someone important to me, but I don’t know if it’s vital for the at-risk people’s mates to get them. What do the doctors say?

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