When I came back from my honeymoon, everyone at Home Depot asked me, “So what part of your body is injured now?”
I’m getting a reputation for this, guys.
And it hurt, because I had to reply, “My tailbone. I broke it while skiing. So now I can’t sit down.”
They would laugh, so I would laugh, and then we would move on to other things.
So because of my tailbone, I’ve been sitting with my legs at weird angles, so as to not put pressure on my tailbone. It’s been hurting less and less, so now I can sit almost normally for short periods of time. One of the most comfortable ways for me to sit in a chair is sitting on one foot. This puts my bodyweight all on one buttcheek, away from my tailbone. It’s fine. I’ve done it a ton of times in the past few weeks.
So last night I had a normal dinner (chicken tenders and frozen veggies). I played SimCity and Plants vs. Zombies. Then I decided it was time to clean up, so I stood up, not realizing how completely dead my left foot was from sitting on it for a while. My leg completely folded under me, and down I went.
I screamed in pain for a minute or so. I inspected my foot and saw how swollen it was. I tried to rotate my ankle, but it didn’t move very far. I had definitely heard a noise from my ankle as I went down — was it a crack? A snap?
I called 911. I felt like an idiot for doing so, since I wasn’t, like, dying, or anything. But I couldn’t stand. I had heard a sound. I actually had to crawl up the stairs to the bedroom to get to my phone. I had never called 911, but I told myself that I wasn’t a prank caller, at the very least.
I had thought I would start by stating my emergency, but actually the first question out of the dispatcher was “what is your location?” I gave her my address. Then my phone number. Then my name (do I say Hancher or Meyers? I went with Hancher) Then I explained that I had fallen and hurt my ankle.
“An ambulance is on its way,” she assured me a moment later, after a few more questions about how I had injured myself.
An ambulance? Surely that was overkill? But I had called 911. Ambulances were part of the equation.
“How old are you?” the dispatcher asked.
I considered saying 29, since I’m a week away from my birthday, but I said 28.
She asked if I had any free-roaming pets (yes, so get them locked away). Did I feel safe hanging up? Yeah, like, it’s just my ankle (it’s not like I was getting murdered). Okay, make sure to pack up any medications in case they have to take you to the hospital. Feel free to call back if I needed further assistance.
And that was that. That was my first 911 call.*
Fortunately Cornelius had been following me around, so it was easy to just take my phone and crawl out of the bedroom, then shut the door behind me. I sat on the stairs and hopped down, then grabbed my medication and my crossword puzzle book and put them both in my purse. Then I crawled over to the recliner and grabbed my Hamilton biography and then crawled over and set that next to my purse. I decided I didn’t want to be seen in my pajamas by the ambulance people (you know, just so I didn’t look so much like a screw-up), so I crawled back upstairs and exchanged my pajama pants for jeans. Then I slid back downstairs, unlocked the front door, turned on the front light, and then sat on the stairs and waited.
Well, I called James and told him not to panic if he came home and there was an ambulance. It was my ankle, not anything serious. He sounded tense. Well, of course he was tense. His mother is in the hospital and his wife called an ambulance.
After a few minutes I noticed that my ankle didn’t hurt nearly as bad. It was still really, really swollen, but it didn’t hurt. So I stood on it. I could stand on it, but I couldn’t really walk. It could share my weight, but it couldn’t hold all my weight. What was that weird noise from when I fell down? Maybe it was just the same sound that comes from when you crack your knuckles.
So when the ambulance arrived, I said, “Guys, I have to be honest, I think I called you in the initial panic. I think it’s just a sprain.”
They checked me out anyway. They agreed that I had really, really bad swelling. They had me rotate my ankle (I was able to move it way farther than a few minutes prior, which I pointed out). They had me stand on both feet. The fact that I could do just that was a really good sign that it wasn’t broken.
They had me sit on the recliner. The woman asked me questions while the man took my vitals from a weird boombox-looking machine. I could remember the name of my doctor but not her practice (but I assured that I couldn’t remember that in the best of times, I always have to look it up). I told her my birthday and reiterated my phone number. I had to tell them that I took Sertraline for depression. I told them that I had recently sprained my toe, and broken my tailbone and my ring finger.
“Do you want us to take you to the hospital for an X-ray?” they asked.
Here’s the part I regret: I said no. I genuinely thought it was just a bad sprain and that an X-ray wasn’t necessary. So they wrapped up my ankle in an Ace bandage and gave me an ice pack and left.
But today I want an X-ray. I want to know if it’s broken or just sprained. I want crutches in any case, because I can’t walk around a whole lot and that’s getting really old really fast. I have work at 5:00 and I want to be able to tell my managers what it definitely is when I call them. I think I could drive, but I don’t know how to get to my car, or if I should call 911 and say “hey, can you drive me to the hospital?” or if I should call a taxi. I don’t think I need an ER, but I should visit Urgent Care.
So now I’m just sitting on the couch, trying to figure out my next move.
James is being great. He fed the cat and put my phone on the charger and offered to make breakfast for me, until I said that that would involve making coffee. He helped me get settled on the couch last night with my computer and painkillers and water and a heating pad. He clipped Cornelius’ toenails when I complained that his back paws were hurting me (at one point he did the head bump thing with Cornelius and it was so cute). But James had to go to work.
Maybe I’ll call my mother.
*Once, I called a non-emergency number, because I got cat medication in my eye back when I first got Marty McFly. But that was a non-emergency number and the answer was “does it hurt? No? Okay well flush your eyes out and call us back in a week to let us know how it goes.”
My grandmother died in August 2009. She had been very sick for a long time, and when it came time, her insides were eating her, slowly shutting down one by one. It was time. I remember how swollen she was; she had always been a slender woman, and in her later years her skin had become delicate and paper-like. The woman on the bed before me didn’t seem like my grandmother at all, a red, swollen, Gramma-shaped creature.
This is her in December 1987. I am the baby on the left, saluting.
We all arrived at the hospital to say goodbye, and to watch her die. My grandfather told us that someone had to hold her hand at all times, so that she wouldn’t feel alone. I replied that hearing is actually the last sense to go, and so talking to her would be better. Grampa snapped at me for being so cold. I felt stung and walked away sulking, but I know now why he snapped at me.
She died surrounded by her family; her husband, her two children, their spouses, several of her grandchildren. Unable to come up with words, we took turns reading the Bible aloud. When all of our voices gave out, we sat in silence, watching her chest rise and fall, less and less and less.
Two hours had passed.
Gramma’s chest rose.
Gramma’s chest fell.
Mom stood up.
Gramma’s chest didn’t rise.
“Sit down,” Katie hissed.
Mom sat down, but Gramma’s chest didn’t rise again. Gramma was gone.
Most of James’ family did not attend our wedding. They live several hours away and have small children, so it made sense. We invited them, but didn’t expect them to attend. But at the last minute, several of the Yesses on his side of the family dropped out. Even one of his groomsmen cancelled. James’ grandfather was dying, and most of them felt it was more important to say goodbye to him than to see James married. Which made sense. If we weren’t getting married that weekend, James probably would have gone to see his grandfather as well.
This is one of the few members of his paternal side that was able to attend. Almost everyone else from James’ side that attended was from his maternal side.
My grandfather’s girlfriend also wasn’t able to attend. She was still recovering from surgery. In fact, she’s still in recovery. We were able to see her the next day after the wedding though, which was wonderful, because she’s a lovely human being.
James’ grandfather died while we were on our honeymoon.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in a public setting ever, but James’ mother has been in and out of the hospital for the past four years. It was a trial for her to be able to attend our wedding. But James is her only son, goshdarnit, and Deb was bound and determined to attend.
Deb was admitted to the hospital while we were on our honeymoon.
She ordered everyone not to tell us because she didn’t want to disrupt our honeymoon. We found out as soon as we came back.
Today, her spasms returned with a vengeance. We spent five hours in the hospital with her today, doing what we could to ease her pain. She took a strong painkiller, but she was too tense to have it actually work. She panted and squirmed and shook on the bed. We helped her with her bedpan. I waved a magazine, hoping to cool her down. We helped her drink water through a straw. James helped bend her legs at the knee, hoping to ease the tension. It didn’t. Nothing helped. For five or more hours, Deb could do nothing but sweat and writhe in pain on the hospital bed.
I took a break and got some coffee from the Starbucks downstairs. I did a crossword puzzle. I watched Deb gasp into the phone that she wanted a strawberry milkshake for dinner. The nurses arrived to try to get a liquid painkiller in her, so we left and sat outside the room. We listened as the nurses struggled to get an IV in her, but she couldn’t stop shaking. I worked some more on the crossword puzzle, sipping the coffee and trying to think of something, anything.
James drank some water. The nurses were gone. I didn’t want her to be left alone, so I came back into the room.
I looked down at Deb. She gasped and shook with pain. The spasms were much less violent, but they were still there, and they were still painful.
“They should put you on some knockout gas,” I said.
Deb chuckled. “They should,” she said.
Then a strange look crossed her face.
“It’s gone,” she whispered.
Then she closed her eyes and went still.
I thought, Oh my god she’s dead. Oh my god I killed her.
But a quick look showed that her chest was rising and falling. She was fine. She was just asleep.
28: You know what? Look at all these Ill Girls, dispensing wisdom and such. I was an Ill Girl. I wonder if being that sick makes you as wise as they show in the movies. I’m going to go find out.
She goes to 8’s bedroom
28: Hey there. I’m you from the future.
8: Why is your hair red?
28: Because you decided that you look cuter with red hair.
8: When do I do that?
28: Oh, after you shave your head.
8: Why do I do that?
28: Because your head is so hot just all the time. It’s itchy. And it’s just, it’s so hot, and it hurts.
8: You’re right! Sometimes all I want to do is just shake my head back and forth but it hurts so much.
28: Don’t worry. Soon Mom and Dad will find you a good doctor, and that doctor will make you all better. But for now, since you’re sick, you’re much wiser than healthy people.
8: I am?
28: Yeah, like, Beth in Little Women, or Eva St. Clare in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or, like, lots of movies.
8: But in The Secret Garden, Colin was a brat, he wasn’t smart.
28: You’re right. Maybe it’s just girls. Hmm. Right, so I’m going to ask you some questions. You can answer them however you want. Just whatever comes off the top of your head. Alright?
28: What is the meaning of life?
28: What is the meaning of life?
28: Anything. Anything at all. Okay, let’s go back to that one. Okay, how many road must a man walk down — that is a stupid question.
8: That’s a rhetorical question.
28: How…how do you know what a rhetorical question is, you’re eight.
8: Because I’m smart.
28: Like I said, that one is a stupid question. Okay, let’s go to the next one. When does life begin?
8: Life began four and a half billion years ago, when the earth cooled enough and amino acids started forming single-cell creatures.
28: Okay, wow, you aced that science test.
8: Hair is made of protein.
28: Yes, but, that’s not what the question is. Not when did life begin. When does life begin. You see, okay, Mom told you all about how babies are made. So the question is, when does the fetus become a baby, like, a living baby.
8: I was born premature.
28: Yeah, that caused a lot of your problems early in life. But like, at five weeks early, you could survive out of the womb. When is the earliest we can take the baby out of the mom and not be like, this is just a clump of cells, this can die.
8: I just finished reading the Giver and Mom says that Jonas and Gabe die at the end.
28: What do you think?
8: I don’t want them to die.
28: Well if it makes you feel better than they didn’t die. There’s some books that get published later. Jonas becomes the wise leader of a successful colony where everyone is free and he marries an awesome girl and Gabriel…
8: What happens to Gabriel? Does he die?
28: He becomes a very important messenger for the village. He’s very happy.
8: Does he die?
28: He uh. Yeah. He dies. It’s a stupid book though, I like to pretend it didn’t happen. You know what, let’s go back to — what’s the meaning of life?
8: But why does he die?
28: He sacrifices himself to cleanse the forest of the devil’s influence.
28: I know, like, the theme of the first two books what totally that evil came from within. Introducing a devil character was so stupid.
8: But why does Gabe die?
28: Here’s a question, if there is no God, why are sunsets so beautiful?
8 bursts into tears
28: She didn’t answer any of my questions.
Dad called me while I was at work yesterday. He didn’t leave a message, which is unusual for him. I called him back after I got off work. Apparently he had been talking to a coworker whose daughter graduated from Potomac Falls in 2006. He couldn’t remember when I graduated, so he had called to ask. I told him that I graduated in 2005.
“I could have done the math on that,” he said.
“That was ten years ago,” I said.
It’s been ten years since I graduated high school.
“Your ten-year high school reunion must be coming up soon,” said Dad.
“Yeah, I got invited on facebook, but it looked like it was being run by one group of friends that I didn’t really talk with, so it didn’t seem like it was worth the effort,” I said.
Ten years, man. I went to my old livejournal to see what I had been thinking about ten years ago.
November 15, 2005
Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K
I just posted Shakespeare in 15 minutes on my blog if you want to look at it. It’s inspired by Cleolinda (movies in 15 minutes). You can see the connection.
IT’S SNOWING IN IOWA AND YOU’RE PROBABLY ALL STILL SWEATING! NEEHAHHAHHAHAHA!
Listening to music, putting off homework, thinking about getting dinner. Life is beautiful.
Current Mood: creative
Current Music:Reliant K’s “Two Left’s Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do”
I hovered over the “blog” link. It’s a link to my myspace profile. Look at that thing. I’m writing towards an audience that lives in Virginia. I was apparently happy at Loras for a bit. My goodness.
Today’s ten-year-ago-today livejournal entries were more interesting.
November 16, 2005
Preparing to do my Math homework, and I was looking for music to listen to whilst being a responsible student (I can’t think without music). I decided to listen to the Flaming Lips…but I couldn’t find it. I looked in my CD book, in my pile of CDs, in my bag, no Flaming Lips. Finally, I got a stroke of inspiration, and looked in the CD book of the Flaming Lips. Lo and behold, there it was. And some people call me smart, too.
Current Mood: good
Current Music:Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”
Sitting there on a group project, listening to the two other kids in my group, and all the sudden I find myself thinking, “Why am I surrounded by these incompetent fools?” And then there was lightning and thunder and I was cackling maniacally and my eyes were glowing and I had power in my fingertips and I destroyed the school and got my creative writing degree and then hid in the shadows and plotted to destroy all the heroes in the world with my superior mind and powers alone.
So, yeah, I was really, really bored.
Current Mood: crazy
Current Music:Weezer’s Make Believe
I DON’T KNOW! Why didn’t I write this paper earlier, when I had like energy and time and the ability to workshop it? It has to be perfect in twelve hours and 49 minutes and it’s absolute crap! AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!
Current Mood: drained
Current Music:Barenaked Ladies’ “Stunt”
Oh, that one had a comment, from the lovely Laura Kay!
yay for last-minute paper-writing
i tend to do my best work in the last 8 hours or so
procrastination is the key
you can do it
Here’s what I’ve learned from this:
-I was the most boring, typical 18-year-old that ever existed.
-No wonder I hate(d) myself
-Will I hate 28-year-old me when I am 38?
-Am I the most boring, typical 28-year-old now?
-I wrote with my Virginia friends in mind when my Iowa friends were the ones reading and responding to my entries. I hadn’t realized that my life had moved on. Is it the same way now?
I took a break from addressing envelopes for the wedding in order to write this. Cornelius is napping next to me. Today I slept in until noon. I wasn’t tired. I was very comfortable. I couldn’t get up. Maybe because I was comfortable. Maybe because my mind is broken. I spent most of today feeling anxious for no reason.
I was an 18-year-old who ran halfway across the country because she knew she wasn’t happy, but couldn’t admit that it was what was inside that was making her unhappy. I’ve run an entire state away from everything I ever knew to make another chance. Because I had found happiness at home, but not satisfaction. I need to find happiness somewhere else. With a man that loves me somehow. With a cat that won’t.
I helped a woman with some blinds today. I helped her pick them out, and then cut them down to size. She kept commenting on how nice I was and how helpful I was being. I would simply say thank you.
As I was cutting the blinds, she told me about how she was just in town to help her sister move. Her sister had moved into a new house and was too busy to do the unpacking and settling in herself. So she had come from California to do it for her. I commented that that was very nice of her.
“Do you know Miami Boulevard?” the woman asked. “Do you ever drive down there?”
I said that I do. I actually haven’t driven down Miami Boulevard in several months, not since we moved to the townhouse, but I have driven down that road. That seemed like an unnecessary detail, so I just said that I drive down Miami Boulevard.
“You know the psychic on that road, right?”
I actually have never noticed a psychic on Miami Boulevard, but I said that I had.
“That’s my sister,” the woman said, proudly. “You’re so nice. She can help you with your issue. You know the one. I can get you a special rate, since you’re so nice and helpful. Would you like to meet her?”
I actually ran through a list in my head of all the issues I deal with — my depression, my career, my social isolation, my schedule, my marriage, writer’s block — before I realized that she was playing me. She was networking for her sister. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to go to a psychic. The fact that we have therapists indicate how helpful it is to have a third party to talk with. But psychics are an unregulated industry, use chicanery to do their work, and have been known to abuse their positions. I’m sure most psychics are very nice. I’ve been to a psychic once, at the Renaissance Festival, for the novelty of it. She was very nice and did not take advantage of me at all. But it was clearly just a cold reading facilitated by some props. So no. I was not interested in visiting her sister.
“Sure,” I said.
Saying no seemed to be rude. Anyway, I could take the number and then just never call her.
After she left, I went to go see if there were any returns in the returns bin. I spotted Don, one of the paint guys, standing by himself. I walked up to him.
“Do you believe in psychics?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
I looked at him in surprise.
He told me that when he had been stationed in Hawaii, he had visited a psychic. He had been surprised at how much she knew and how much she figured out. “She knew I was a pilot,” he said.
I could imagine that hadn’t been hard to guess.
“She said I would go to school on the East Coast, which — I didn’t know any schools on the East Coast! She said I would go to Florida. I said that I had family in Florida so of course I would go to Florida. She said I wouldn’t go because of family. And she said that I would have one child, which, for reasons, I didn’t think would happen. I visited her twice. I went a third time, but her house had burned down and she was taking care of that. When I was stationed in Alabama, we had to go to Florida after a hurricane and help clean up. I was there for forty days. Afterwards I tried to apply to be an instructional pilot. I was turned down for that, but they offered to train me to be a maintenance test pilot — on the East Coast! And then afterwards my wife said that she was pregnant! Are you going to be able to cover my lunch?”
That seemed like an awful lot to try to disprove. So I simply accepted it. Andrew, another paint guy, approached. I asked if he believed in psychics. He said no. I explained to them both about what happened with the woman in blinds. Then I went and took care of returns (we had lots of returns).
Speaking of writer’s block, I have it. There’s two projects that I’m working on right now. One is the fairy tale story. The problem is that right now I’m working on a very plot-point heavy section. The protagonist/future princess/whatever is three years old and very sick. So her mother has summoned her cousin, the court physician, to cure her. He’s going to do some bloodletting, drop in the knowledge that Prince Orson is missing, and then inform Martha, the kindly governess, how she can get in contact with the local witch coven.
At long last the physicker arrived, after dark, when most of the household had gone to bed. The footmen sent a pageboy to the butler, who arrived in the foyer within minutes, straightening his tie and giving a formal greeting. He and the page escorted the physicker to the sickroom.
Dawn, Martha, and the staff were preparing the room for the night when the door swung open, and the physicker stepped into the room. His wax-lined cape shuddered around him, swing flatly from side to side. He wore leather gloves and black clothing, and peered down at the women behind his glasses. Did he have a big nose or was it just the angle?
He was also shockingly young, hardly older than Dawn. Everyone was starting to look young to Martha’s eyes, but he looked really young.
Martha shooed the servants from the room. The visit was a private matter.
Dawn stood up and curtsied before him. “Paul,” she said. “Thank goodness you’ve arrived. How was your trip?”
“I cannot stay,” he said.
“Have you come straight from court?”
“I cannot say no to you,” said the physicker. “But the timing is inconvenient. The queen is ill.”
Dawn glanced at Martha, who was already shutting the door firmly. Martha’s mind was racing.
“Hysterics,” said the physicker. “The prince has gone missing.”
Martha eyed the boy. She wouldn’t be trusting him with any secrets anytime soon.
Martha allowed herself to turn her head. Dawn was sitting on the bed, holding Lily’s hand. The physicker had not moved. Dawn glanced at Martha, then lifted up her daughter’s hand.
“She still has a fever, even after three days.”
The physicker finally approached Lily. He knelt down by the bed and took Lily’s hand from Dawn. He lifted up her arm and poked her armpit. Lily squirmed. Martha stepped closer to the bed. Lily was probably going to wake back up and try to get out of bed again.
The physicker tapped along Lily’s neck, then tapped down her chest and to her bellybutton.
“How has her breathing been?”
“She has coughing fits, but then she’s fine.”
He leaned his head over and placed it on Lily’s chest. He waited for a few breaths, then lifted his head back up. Lily squirmed again. The physicker reached over and lifted one of her eyelids. He peered into her eyes. He let go, but Lily blinked and stared at him. The physicker didn’t seem to notice; he reached a gloved hand into her mouth and pried it open. Lily looked up at Dawn, at Martha, at Dawn, and Martha again.
“She’s hot and wet,” said the physicker.
Lily squirmed, trying to sit up. She coughed.
“It’s an imbalance,” said the physicker. “Too much yellow bile and phlegm, and it’s all trying to get out. This is a good start,” he gestured at the fire. “What have you been feeding her?”
“Broth,” said Martha.
The physicker turned and gave her a once-over. “Is this the nurse?”
“Martha is Lily’s governess,” said Dawn. “I nursed Lily myself.”
“That’s a terrible idea,” said the physicker. “Nursing is hard on gentle ladies. You would have been better off entrusting her to the milk of a physical creature.”
“Is that why she’s sick?”
“No, she’s imbalanced. All this sweat, this coughing, she’s trying to get the phlegm out of her. And this heat! You,” he looked at Martha. “Send for some bread and salt.”
Martha looked at Dawn, but Dawn was looking at Lily. She sucked in her breath and turned back towards the door.
“We might have to bleed her, she’s so hot.”
It was the first sensible thing the man had said. Martha went to the door and opened it. As expected, three servant girls were clustered by the door, listening in.
“I suppose you heard everything?”
Their eyes wide, they said nothing.
“You heard nothing, yes?”
“Good. Go get some bread. Or cookies. And some salt. Bring them here.”
The physicker had managed to convince Dawn by the time the servant girls returned with a half-loaf of bread and a bowl of salt. The physician took the bread. The bread had been made in the morning. The crust was hard, but his poke could still dent it.
“Excellent,” he said.
…aaaand now what. I have to write a sequence where a three year old gets cut open and bled, and write it as if it’s a good thing. And then roll right into more plot development. Ugh.
The other project, a modern adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, is still in its development stages. I am honestly completely stuck on how to update the Starkadders. Flora and her friends are so obviously hipsters. But the Starkadders? They’re supposed to make fun of trends popular in literature of the turn of the century.
At first I thought it was just Judith Starkadder who was difficult to deal with. She’s obsessed with her son Seth. This is conveyed very well in the writing, but I have yet to see an adaptation that makes her feelings for Seth obvious. Seth is described constantly as manly (literally, he walks around in a masculine way, the curve of his neck is masculine, etc). He is described as unbuttoning his shirt constantly.
His conversation with his mother is punctuated by the porridge boiling over. It’s hilarious. But how to convey all that on stage? So I thought, well, there’s the modern-day problem of helicopter parents. So maybe she’s a helicopter parent? But no, helicopter parents want their children to go out into the world and succeed (thanks to Mom and Dad). That wouldn’t work in the cloistered world of Cold Comfort Farm.
I then started thinking about the other Starkadder son, Reuben. At first he has a one-sided antagonistic relationship with Flora, thinking that she’s here to take the farm from him. Once he’s convinced that she won’t take the farm, he becomes her ally. Then, randomly, he proposes to her. She turns him down. He continues his lunch. It’s out of nowhere in the book, and it’s supposed to be out of nowhere. I was driving home a few days ago and suddenly thought that maybe Reuben was written in imitation of some romance books where the girl goes to the farm and the guy is antagonistic with her, and then in the end they get married because Belligerent Sexual Tension?
How many tropes am I missing because I haven’t read most of the books Cold Comfort Farm is making fun of? Do I have to go on a classic novel binge in order to really, truly understand Cold Comfort Farm? Why is this such a difficult project?
I was feeling worn-out and exhausted today, so I decided to pep myself up by reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln, because that is who I am now. I’m reading Doris Kearn Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, that book that won all the awards in the late 2000s. I opened the book up to page 152 and scanned the page to see where I had last left off. On page 152, Virginia officially seceded from the Union, taking the crucial Norfolk Navy Yard with it.
With its stategic location, immense dry dock, great supply of cannons and guns, and premier vessel, the Merrimac, the Norfolk yard was indispensible to both sides.
But, of course, Virginia secedes from the Union, and Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, was unable to secure the vital navy yard before the Confederacy took it over. We shall see what the consequences of this was.
The loss of Norfolk prompted Charles Francis Adams* to note in his diary:
We the children of the third and fourth generations are doomed to pay the penalties of the compromises made by the first.
You may recognize this as my facebook status a few days ago.^ For some reason that quote has stuck with me. I stopped at that line again. I read it over a few times. I couldn’t think of why I like that sentence so much. I read it again. Suddenly I realized that to pay the penalty is a vocab term in early Latin studies (poenas dare. Had the sentence simply triggered my Classics scholarship?
I decided to translate the sentence into Latin rather than read on.
After writing out the sentence, the next step is to break it down into parts of speech. Diagramming it. However the old-school folks say it.
We the children nominative (subject)
of the third and fourth generations genitive (possessive)
are doomed first person plural indicative active present
to pay the penalties infinitive/accusative plural (infinitive/object)
of the compromises genitive (possessive)
made wait there’s another verb?
by the first ablative
I stared in horror at the last three steps. There was already a possessive and a verb in the sentence. How could there be more? I set that question aside for the moment and tried to think about the ablative.
Ablative doesn’t have a direct correlation in English, unlike nominative/subject, genitive/possessive, dative/indirect object, and accusative/direct object. The best I can explain it is as a setting. Ablative tells you where the sentence happened, when it happened, or how it happened (ablative of means). The first several chapters of my textbooks avoids ablatives, and then suddenly ablatives are everywhere. They’re hard to get across in English. When I was in high school, I wrote out English translations for every single word I diagrammed: by/with/in/on/from the troops, I would write.
My life is brilliant
My love is pure
I saw an angel
Of that I’m sure
She smiled at me on the subway
She was with another man
But I won’t lose no sleep on that
‘Cause I’ve got a plan
You’re beautiful, it’s true
I saw your face in a crowded place
And I don’t know what to do
‘Cause I’ll never be with you
You’re beautiful, it’s true
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you
But it’s time to face the truth
I will never be with you
But I also knew from my days in community college Latin that there was another use for ablative. And by another I mean “the way bearded dragons and komodo dragons are both lizard dragons.” That way is Ablative Absolute.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you <—BAM WHAM
When the angel thought up that he should be with her, the angel smiled.
Ablative absolute sets the scene like nothing else. It can’t stand on its own, it’s not a full sentence even though it might have a subject and a verb (wait-). It’s very ablative-heavy. And it always (well, typically) goes in the front, especially in Latin.
By the compromises made by the first generation, we the children of the third and fourth generation are doomed to pay the penalties.
Compromissit primis aetatibus facerunt, nos pueri aetatis tertiae et quartiae damnamus poenas dare.
Is it correct? I actually have no idea.
*grandson of John, son of John Quincy
^or you may not, I don’t know you.
I usually curl up and read in bed for a bit before I go to sleep. It’s becoming a nice family ritual, as James reads science fiction while I read a biography. Now that Cornelius has joined the household, we get distracted and play with him as well. Last night Cornelius and I played a game where I tried to touch his belly and he tried to capture my hand and bite it. It’s one of his favorite games.
(Right now he’s laying up against me and trying to capture my toes, which I’m wiggling just to set him off)
I got home from work this morning and James asked me to not play a game like that with Cornelius before bed. “He kept trying to attack my toes,” he said.
“That’s what cats do,” I said. “They attack toes in the night.”
“I couldn’t sleep,” said James.
“Neither could I,” I said. “He kept snuggling into my back until he nearly pushed me off the bed.”
So yeah, Cornelius is a great addition to our household! Yesterday was his first vet appointment. I told them about my concerns for his ears — they are bald and scaly, and that baldness and scaliness is spreading. The vets for Wake County Animal Center had treated it like ringworm, which definitely helps. But surely there must be a way to make it go away.
My vet thinks that he might be allergic to something. We don’t know what. Most likely fish or gluten. So I had to go out and buy hypoallergenic food.
(he’s purring you guys oh my gosh)
Today I got new, clay-based kitty litter, to replace the wheat-based one I had bought on the foster’s recommendation. Hopefully in a few months the scaliness will be replaced with pretty orange fur.