Why Report is Bullshit

I have never been the most serious person at work, at least in comparison to my peers. That’s not to say that I never care, more like I’ve long ago accepted that even the most arduous tasks can be completed efficiently in conjunction with humor. The expected adulting skill: Multitasking, has a strong advocate in me. However, if one cannot multitask, one must forever hold their ever flapping gums at work. Basically, don’t drag me into monotonous bullshitting when I’m on the clock with tasks at hand, unless said bullshitting is valid, and we’re going to swim in and out of these patient rooms while frothing at the mouth with verbal diarrhea. Problem is, there is a sanctioned excuse to waste the hell out of my time; Report. What is supposed to be the exchange of pertinent patient information from one caregiver to another, often turns into my learning about a patient’s pet Lionfish they had when they were 8. Stop it.

If there is some pertinent information that can not be reasonably gleaned by combination of EMR and inspection/speaking when I enter the patient’s room, then by all means tell me. But I don’t really don’t give a fuck that you “don’t like the patient in that room.” I especially don’t care to be dragged along the sliding scale of your shitty sociopolitical opinions (If you have any at all), which of course I already knew (I’ve become a pretty good judge of these things, in order to avoid speaking to people I know are the bad kind of nasty inside, makes it easier to feign respect if they don’t speak). So of course today, on a Med/Surg floor, I’m stuck in time when a transgender patient who has clearly stated her identity as female is constantly being called “it,” or “that person,” instead. And there was no reason to mention the patient at all. When I tried to dodge the whole report thing (because as I said, it’s typically bullshit), the individual determined to her sworn duty followed me around while I was stocking glucometer supplies.

“So that patient in room–” she tried to say.

“Oh, I know homegirl, she’s cool,” I said.

“You mean that person?” she asked.

“The girl who’s been here for about a week now,” I said.

“Well, it then. It’s been asking for juice a lot,” she said.

And I’m not even working in a licensed position. I mean seriously, it makes the whole scene and expectation seem even more frivolous. I can’t imagine handing off patients to a flight medic in Iraq and taking twenty minutes to say that the motherfucker does not like those Ranch Doritos. And it’s not even shit talking about patients in general that bothers me, hell every patient who was ever disrespectful to nursing staff has earned monuments of jokes at their expense, whether people admit it or not. It’s about the principle of the whole thing, and maybe, ok maybe, my gears were grinding overtime because homegirl happened to be one of the nicer patients I’d ever met. It could be that this particular employee assumed there was something about me that would agree with her distaste. It could be the insistence that I become empathetic to a disgustingly popular world view, or that I accept that this person doesn’t accept this thing about another person. But I’m just not that nice I guess. I’m just not that accepting and I couldn’t find the empathy to be cool with it.

I could however, find the patience not to say anything. Instead I walked into a patient’s room to answer a call bell, where I knew I wouldn’t be followed.

 

Oh Patients, My Patience

Dumb nigger, faggot, faggot, faggot, uncle Tom, dick eater, lanky fucking faggot and wanna be white boy are just a few of the flattering comments I expect to hear from patients in the emergency department. The best part is when I’m sitting with one of said patients on a 1:1 and they’re making threats to whoop my faggot ass or catch me in the parking lot. Sometimes they make demands that I accost nurses walking by us and then grow furious when I don’t “tell shawty she got a fat ass.”

Apparently, there is a such thing as a code of conduct at Einstein but it’s up to interpretation. By that I mean it greatly depends on who is in charge of the offending patient. Sometimes, there is an attending who, at the first escalation of disrespect will warn, and then have a patient removed from the department. Other times, it may take dodging a little spit to the face or being pissed on before the decision is made. To be clear, these are not all psych patients.

However, sometimes the fisticuffs are brought out unexpectedly. In my less than ten years working in healthcare it has become normal to see nursing staff get injured, or at minimum attacked by patients even when the assault is foreseeable. In spite of this, I tend to keep my composure.

But there was this one time. This one fucking time that I came so close to crossing a professional boundary with a patient that I balled my fist so tightly that I sprained a finger. All of the expected symptoms were there, the constant cursing, the ever popular challenging of manhood, the threats, the loud rapping of shitty music. All of those things you just can’t help but grow to love, except this time the guy reminded me of my uncle. An uncle that I hadn’t seen in a very long time, one whom, like most of the men in the family spent plenty of time calling me a faggot as a kid. Stood as a representation of what it is I was expected to be: filthy, drunk, addicted, sexually dimorphic in all of the wrong ways. It was one of those rare moments where I had to admit that the reason I was so damn angry was some Freudian circumstance that I would normally invalidate with logic.

Thing is, admitting how angry I was and why really helped. As did the fact that co-workers somehow thought I had saint-like patience. I took it as a step in the right direction for concealing my rage from others, while still admitting, still beginning, to reconcile with it for myself.

Pokemon Go is Dangerous

For who? In the work break room, where I’m typically awash in white tears over the loss of their country to a supporting background of Fox News or CNN, I discovered that Pokemon Go is dangerous. But dangerous how? Maybe there was something I could actually learn from network television.

Apparently, kids have been getting all sorts of injuries while playing the popular cell phone game that forces them to take their squishy little bodies outside. There were photos of cuts and scrapes from kids walking into bushes. One poor child stubbed his toe on a curb while in search of a rare Pokemon, another bumped into a pole. Through the myriad of whimpers and bruises the headline just kept growing larger: “Pokemon Go is Dangerous.” Someone else’s baby had what looked like a cat scratch from grazing a tree branch, likely traumatized for life since his first encounter with a tree will leave a disabling wound that might take at least three weeks to heal. Another child’s knee pops up on the screen, lumpy and bright red, but skin intact and while I didn’t hear the anchor talk about the last injury over the sound of washing my hands in the sink, I assume they fell and it had nothing to do with a new teen oral sex craze that relies on Pokemon Go related reciprocation.

Then there are kids in Missouri luring other kids into traps to rob them using Pokemon Go, which is first hilarious because you’re afraid to be robbed by someone who’s playing Pokemon Go? And second because it really ups the ante on catching Pokemon. I mean really, how bad do you want to catch em’ all? Will children be playing Pokemon Go strapped, in case they run into that kind of trouble? I can see it now, kids in skinny jeans, hip bulging, one hand on their waist crossing broad street staring at their cell phones, getting honked at or hit by cars.

I love how the media continues to lower the threshold on what’s considered “danger,” and where said danger is to be reported on.

The “danger” of these kids walking around alone reminds me that my friends and I used to wander round going trick-or-treating every year when I was younger. We’d start in Frankford and then move up to the Northeast for the gradual increase in well-to-do middle class white homes (the same strategy employed for cutting grass and shoveling snow, although nowadays I imagine kids are going there mostly to cop pills). Not a single year went by without the fear of our trick-or-treat bags being snatched. A common practice in the hood, older kids who were at least twice your size would run up on you and snatch a nice dense ass bag of candy from your little pre-pubescent hands. Sometimes they would sock you in the mouth for good measure. Other times they would stand and stare at you while holding your candy and jump at you a few times, being sure to assert their dominance. One time the motherfucker just threw all of my candy on the ground and bounced (after which I of course picked most of it up). I think I had it easy though since stories (not on the news of course, but amongst the neighborhood) of kids being stomped out for some Mr. Goodbars and Snickers were pretty common.

I remember when I began playing the original Pokemon games on Gameboy. I was still trick-or-treating around that time. I had to cut a lot of fucking grass to get a Gameboy and I took that thing everywhere, as many kids did, especially when the link cables came out and you could battle each other on the spot. One time I was on the bus, right near the back door seriously kicking some Poke ass on my Red version, when someone punched me in the mouth, snatched my Gameboy and darted off the bus. It was a large fist, and heavy, so it was clear to me that the culprit might have been a little older. Still, I hopped off the bus and started chasing them through the Northeast Shopping Center parking lot. A friend of mine who, at the time I had forgotten was even there followed behind me in pursuit. I was really speeding after this dickhead with my Gameboy, not a clue what I would do because at that point I had yet to actually win a fight. The only plan I had was to berate him into submission (A skill I mastered as I learned to speak), or maybe snatch it back and run faster than he could. When I gained on the clown and got about twenty feet away I realized he was with someone else, and much older than me, but no matter because he stopped running, stared at me and smashed the Gameboy on the ground. It shattered into its translucent purple pieces and glittered there on the parking lot asphalt. That was it. I gave up the consideration of getting my ass whooped for blind rage and charged at him, until he flashed a gun. I stopped running and walked my ass speedily back towards the bus stop while the clown and his friend laughed and laughed.

Oh how they laughed after breaking my fucking Gameboy. My friend and I were silent, and never really spoke about it.

This was way before Clarence, Erv and I would pontificate on the fact that just going to school was a constant struggle not to get your ass beat on the El. So I started taking the 5 bus or sometimes walking the hour or so when it was nice out.

Anyways yea, Pokemon Go. Although I can’t understand how it could be fun, or how anyone (especially in my nostalgic age group) would have the time to invest in something so un-fun, I dare not buy into the claim of it being a great new danger. In fact, I encourage children who would normally be staring at their phones narcissistically snap chatting or sexting their teachers to go outside and stub their little toes, acquire some sun burn, maybe get robbed? Anything, so that when they become adults I won’t be expected to listen to them talk about how the next silly cell phone gaming fad is on par with the apocalypse.

First time reading or being published outside of college

And I felt bad for not inviting my mom, but still picture her being there high anyway. Although she might have cried happily for once, and that would have made me feel good. But not really changed her mind. I asked her if she got high today, but in a judge, jury and executioner kind of way. What I really wanted was to be non-judgemental. Supportive. But I doubt that’s what she heard me say. That I know who she is and I am doing my best to accept her. But I’m probably not. And I wanted to say “would you like to see the kids this weekend?” But I didn’t. She said though, “I love you,” with emojis, and I said it back, but it felt less trite. As if somehow, someday I might.

I’m Ashamed

A few days ago after Alton Sterling got shot there were a bunch of my POC friends who decided to either immediately side with police, or to blame the guy who was shot. In what I can only imagine to be a confuzzled attempt at sharing racist conservative values, some of them decided to share a video of that angry bigot white girl that everyone’s always raving about. Because of course, it was the first time they agreed with her. But was it? Really?

While I personally have never limited myself to believing there is no need for police, or that they should be unarmed or anything silly like that (I’ve known plenty of people who actually needed to die, as they were a threat to too many other humans). I’ve never really weighed in that heavily on the debates that rage on in recent news about police killings. Partly, because much of it is devoid of rational discourse and I don’t agree with strictly emotional conversations, and partly because police violence towards POC was already clear to me from the day I could understand spoken language. When I was a child I knew very well that I should do everything I can to avoid dealings with police, that I should never smile at them, never talk to them. And I learned my lesson when I did. I’ve never smiled at or had a pleasant conversation with any police officer whom I wasn’t already friends with, albeit I’m sure that some people may have had that experience.

The thing is, this was never new to me. The cell phones are new. That’s it. Every old black dude I’ve ever known has shared his stories about shitty encounters with the police and as I grew older and had my own, I started to believe them. Every time a cop threatened me for looking his way, or rose to unprecedented levels of aggression when I asked them for directions in a city where I was lost, it felt normal. I had already developed the ability to swallow my pride long ago, after playground and in house ass whoopings that I’m surprised haven’t traumatized me. That, and having even the slightest inkling that I’m more intelligent than someone has enabled me to slide away from their hyper-masculine bullshit with a smile while I berate them and everything they have ever stood for in my head.

But anyways, the fact that this video is circling around the POC landscape with the “I finally agree” with her stamp is atrocious. The girl’s hatred for niggers is as clear as her love for the justice system, which by association is also, you guessed it, hatred for niggers. I actually wish white people like her would stop dancing around it and say the words, I’d be more comfortable. But what kind of informed people really think that we should “have faith in the justice system,” that we should let the courts decide, that we should rely on an institutionally racist system that has not only been failing black people since black people have been black, but that has targeted and chosen to diminish, extinguish, to stomp out black life since this country’s inception?

And it’s funny to think about POC who want to have faith in the justice system, obviously naive, possibly lacking some experience or educational roots (email me for suggestions), because I can remember a point in my life where I believed we needed harsher law enforcement. Stricter laws, to be tougher on criminals. What I didn’t realize at the time though, was that this was based primarily on my own fear. The terror that I really felt living in concert with and dealing almost exclusively with people who were criminals, those who have threatened my well-being, who have made my life miserable, whom I felt were in need of imprisonment or death. And guess what? They were all black. Some were family, and some I might have desperately called friends. Most of whom I was terrified of or loathed with all my being. They were black however, because I’m black and that is the community that I, that we, were systematically shoveled into. If a community consists of only POC, who have been barred from modern resource, who have then been told to be better, while expected to be worse, what would we expect to happen?

Even though I constantly think about these and several other uncomfortable relating truths, it’s still hard. Sometimes I can go and visit family or to work and encounter what the justice department might consider a “threatening presence” from another POC and be inflamed with fear, disgust, fury all at once. There have been times where I have responded with the whole DSM-5 terror begets terror scenario. And felt disgusting afterwards.

The thing is, for me the issue of police violence is not, or should not be minimized, to emotional appeal only. Sometimes, a much needed battle cry springs from the anguish of an unnecessary death. But let us not forget that there is already a precedent for why a POC might be in the “wrong place at the wrong time” or why we always match the fucking description, why cases against those who kill us so often get thrown out, why people want to draw attention to “black-on-black crime” with no precedent or understanding of why said crime exists, why POC make up less than half of the U.S. population, but represent like 60% of prisoners, why we are constantly written out of history, out of leading roles, be they real or imaginary, why people can hate themselves enough to be hoodwinked by that silly little white girl. And that shit doesn’t have anything to do with merit, it has nothing to do with courage or “hard work,” or integrity. But it does have everything to do with this country’s legacy, from what we consider a glorious old time when the country was great, when we were legally declared less than human for hundreds of years to come.

Bets on Vets

Whilst in the work break room, post-discussion about the VA “re-evaluating” the benefits of someone’s husband who’d been blown up several times in Iraq, I couldn’t help but wonder how many more benefits will soon be taken away or reduced. Remember those driver’s license things they offered us? The ones that say some shit like “Veteran” or whatever on it. Around the time they completely did away with Federal Tuition Assistance for school?

People were so excited about being able to have “Veteran” on a driver’s license, but it only made me angry. It took balls really, and I think it still does. To consistently offer very public, overly visible incentives to veterans while congress walks in circles, repeatedly stomping out useful or necessary incentives. It’s truly masterful subterfuge that has the nation’s conscience soothed into thinking that we care at least a little about veterans. While some of us grift through the streets all year. While some of us linger awake at night in supreme loathing of everything that we cannot identify. While some of us die waiting on appointments at the VA. While some of us, incapable of forming relationships outside of each other or dogs are tricked into thinking that “veteran” on our driver’s license is appropriate compensation.

I remember when I sent in my paperwork for REAP (reserve educational assistance program), which I was to use for at least my first year of graduate study. I’d known plenty of people to use it before and factored it into my budget for the coming term. A few days before school started however, I received a notice that I would get no such benefit, because like most veterans benefits, congress or the president (it’s immaterial at this point) decided to terminate it. Just like that, end it.

Funny how things like that tend to end. Unlike… I don’t know, these damn wars.

Funny how funding, even for advancing ones career within the military is perpetually unavailable. Even for required courses which could make a soldier more of an “asset.”

This is the same country, where in 2013 we needed 436 million dollars to upgrade 70-ton Abram tanks. An amount that I can only assume included turtle waxes and mounts to display them properly, since that’s about the only thing they’d be good for. Because of course, “the one area where we are supposed to spend taxpayer money is in defense of the country,” said some old white man who likes tanks and stuff.

Since we spent 400 billion dollars on those F-35s that have yet to be used in combat, would such a grand endorsement of the humans we use really be too much?

 

But it’s not “Literary”

I have been enamored by science fiction and fantasy for as long as I can remember. Yet, somehow as an adult I started to forget that. Even while binging on anime and watching those shitty superhero movies, when it came to books I delved more and more strictly into the non-fiction realm. Part of this was of course, the need to know directly applicable historical and scientific information. I hadn’t considered what I might be missing in “Hyperion,” because clearly I had to read every Erik Larson book. “Gun, with Occasional Music” might have sat silently on my shelf while I salivated over “The Soul of an Octopus,” had I not let go of a bias that to be honest, I had always considered silly.

That’s not to say I haven’t, or that I don’t still find immense pleasure reading non-fiction and some mimetic fiction too.

Problem is, people, especially non-lit types (which is most of the population) do not take speculative fiction writing seriously. And as someone who started taking their own writing seriously pretty late in the game, neither did I. Somehow, in becoming what I might label as a grown up, I allowed the literary opinions of those who don’t really read for pleasure bleed into my subconscious. Mind you, there are clear inconsistencies even beyond the not reading, yet having a strong opinion on types of books because some of these folks are eerily obsessed with say, Game of Thrones or Heroes, which both at times reach further into the speculative than many books I might read.

The bias towards realism, coupled with ridiculously limited time conditioned me to stray away from what I really love.

Lev Grossman, who wrote “The Magicians” series said that fantasy could allow one to confront much more daunting obstacles than reality. I’d agree with this, in the sense that literature is elucidating the human experience, speculative fiction, to me feels like a natural expansion of the human condition. A character can be depressed, an asshole, be dealing with compounding socioeconomic problems and still kill one of their friends trying to perform a difficult spell. Or better yet, circumstances that are larger mirrors of human plight can exist in worlds that we create. Worlds that are not bound by physics or biology, where evolution may have diverged in an entirely different manner permit never before conceived tragedies that put our first, second and third world problems to shame.

With that as only one starting point, the desire to create, to think up and give life to a world larger than not only myself, but larger than everything I currently know to be real, becomes a lust more powerful than any I’ve ever felt for sex.