Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Musings for Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It's quiet in my writing nook here in what used to be our dining room. I'm waiting for my lunch (two Nathan's hot dogs and Pepperidge Farm buns) to be ready. I'm not usually a lunch person, but I've been up since 6:57 a.m. and I ate breakfast about an hour later, so I'm a bit hungry now.

I'm also waiting for a phone call from the substitute home health aide; our regular HHA had to take care of some personal business and asked Nursing South for the day off.  The sub called at 9 this morning and said she'd be here around 1 or so this afternoon; it's now 1:44 p.m. and she has not called yet.

Most annoying, I think, but substitute HHAs often say they'll be here at X hour and end up getting here at Y. Either they get delayed by their duties in other patients' houses or get lost on the way here...but it's always something with the people from Nursing South.

Mom slept well last night. In fact, she slept 14 hours, with only one interruption (when the tardy HHA sub called to say she was coming at 1 p.m,). I was afraid that Mom would wake up early; she's not the easiest of patients to care for if she is alone with me for more than a few hours, so I let her sleep as much as possible. I woke her up at 12:05 p.m. thinking that it would be best to give her breakfast and her morning medications before the HHA arrived.

As I write this, Mom's probably napping. She doesn't read the newspaper or watch TV on her own now, so having a meaningful conversation with her is hard. It's depressing, and I'm ashamed to admit this, but I prefer to be here at my computer and let her sleep rather than keep her company...at least during the day.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Metrobus ride is learning experience for college student

The following column was first published in the Opinions page of Catalyst on March 6, 1986, the day after my 23rd birthday: 

It's cold outside and darkness is setting in as I fidget on a hard concrete bench at the bus stop. I have done everything that I had to do today -- wrote my column, studied for tomorrow's test, called a few contacts for stories and all the other jobs on my list. Now I'm free. 

Out there, somewhere, a bus is making its way through heavy traffic, depositing people here, picking up people there. Its course is not a straight line from point A to point B; it zig-zags all over the place. It will take 20 or 30 minutes to reach campus. If the traffic is heavy, perhaps longer. 

I look around. There are 15, maybe 20, people sitting, standing, pacing back and forth. On a bench to my left, a pair of basketball players concentrates on their textbooks. 

A wizened old woman, obviously neither student nor faculty -- her clothes seem almost as old as she is -- smokes a thin brown cigarette and clutches a huge shopping bag like a dog on a leash. 

I sit down, open my shoulder bag and pull out a Stephen King paperback. The light is dim (bad for my eyes, I guess) but I make an attempt to read anyway. After a page or two, I give up. 

The bag lady lights up another of her thin brown cigarettes. Three crushed-out butts lie on the cold concrete floor by her shopping bag. 

Finally! The bus arrives, and in my haste to clamber aboard I nearly drop my fare. Feeling a tad embarrassed, I ask the driver for a transfer. He hands it to me, and I walk down the aisle to select a seat. 

I settle into my seat and look out the window. The old woman with the cigarette and the shopping bag looks remorsefully at the bus. I look furtively at her, wondering how long she must wait for the bus. Or if she even has enough money for a bus ride home. Somehow, I doubt it. 

I take a look at the decor; it's typical 1980s Metrobus Style. Signs adorn the space between the windows and ceiling:"Pregnant? Call Golden Cradle. Free counseling, free housing." 

The view outside isn't that great, either. The windows are tinted. The bus zigs west. The bus zags north. It turns east on Coral Way, then north on 107th Avenue. Look, there's the signpost up ahead...next stop, FIU. 

Then, suddenly, the bus halts. The door opens, and three of us disembark. As soon as I step off, Bus Number 1243 turns back to pick up another batch of passengers at Miami-Dade. 

Me? I have an hour to kill while I wait for the 11-Miami

It is cold and darkness has nestled around me as I sit on another hard concrete bench at yet another bus stop. The light is brighter here -- I pull out my Stephen King paperback and start reading. 

(c) 1986, 2015 Alex Diaz-Granados.