Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta

Finally Met Buck Rogers?

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Well, I finally went to the Verizon store and bought an I-PHONE. I was afraid, you know, sweaty palms, the tight knot of anticipation, etc. Once i instructed the sales girl how to turn on the cvoice over accessibility, however, and held it, all the doubts blew out the window and into the slipstream.

So, I’ve learned how to flick, tap, split-tap, triple flick, scrub, and touch type while interpreting the boings, doinks, gurgles, and chimes accompanying each new gesture. Very cool, though I still have trouble with the two finger wheelie thing that brings up editing and typing options.

One drawback, though, and this is not a phone problem; my ISP is somehow influencing my not being able to send outgoing mail. I have to get on the tech line and find out why. Grrr.

I am so happy with it, that even with the outgoing mail snag, I have confidence that I will also invest in a bluetooth keyboard

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Survivors Guilt

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Survivor’s Guilt
By Ann Chiappetta

Flash fiction under 1,000 words

He didn’t come out here to live; he came out here to die. He would fall asleep and never wake up, his face poised in frosty rest, his hands clasped over his chest. He was ready, willing his body temperature to fall below normal so he could finally rid himself of the shame of being the one left alive.

When he was a teenager, he was rescued from freezing to death at a winter jamboree. The four other campers with him didn’t make it. The wind chill had dropped the temperature to ten below in the after midnight hours and when the fire went out, they didn’t wake up. The next thing he knew, he was in a chopper and he was burning all over, the medical team telling him he was lucky to be alive. He remembered wanting to scream for them to stop, that he wanted to die. He wanted to tell them to leave him alone and help the other kids instead. He wanted nothing to do with coming back to life. There was no one and nothing to look forward to back then or even now.

This brittle night he was back where he wanted to be, just like the freezing night of the jamboree. He was four years older, four years wiser, and felt cheated. No one waited for him at home; he had nothing left–even if there was someone to argue with him about it. His best friends died that frigid night and now he wanted to join them.
The moon was full and ice white against the depthless sky. The stars floated in cosmic patterns he knew but had lost since he began to freeze. The shaking had subsided. He smiled, thinking they were so pretty. He began singing, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. He giggled when he realized he had forgotten all the words. He hummed them instead.

Hot breath found his face and he turned from it, barely able to do so in the frosty air. He flailed and tried to move away from the warmth. But the warmth continued to take over. First one side began to burn as it warmed, and he imagined he was in Hell, lying on the coals of his sins. When his other side began to feel again, he tried to sit up but his arms were like cinderblocks and the best he managed was a hoarse croak. Something warm and damp caressed his face and tickled his nose.
He looked up at the moon, his eyes tearing with the effort. He didn’t want to cry, didn’t want to have any regrets, but for some reason, those soft, warm rubs made him ached for more.
His tears were taken away as soon as he shed them. His thawing flesh was being warmed as it came back from its hypothermic repose. His desire to die thawed, too. As the sky altered its depths from night to dawn, the young man tried once again to sit up. He realized as he tried that he was already propped up against something. He reflexively grabbed at what was closest to his hand. His hand closed over something warm and soft. He grabbed again and his mind flared with recognition, but he was still groggy and he fell back into the warmth, almost against his will.
The next time he awoke, it was close to dawn. He began to understand. He saw that the ice white moon had begun its descent and the weak, pale sun was ascending in its place.
He felt alive, and it jerked him awake as if he was a pike snagged on a line in an ice-hole. What he saw made him freeze but not from hypothermia. Four grey animals lay against him, one behind his back. One at each side and one cradling his legs. All four sets of amber eyes gazed at him, and one of them whined and cocked its head, as if questioning him. He looked at his fingers; some were frostbitten but he didn’t care. He’d look at his feet later. He felt his face and wondered if he’d gotten any frostbite on his nose or cheeks. But it would have to wait until he got back to civilization. He was shaken but far from dying.
The wolves stood close by as he rose, watching him with amber eyes. He got up, pulled the hood around his face with numb fingers. His truck wasn’t far off, maybe a quarter of a mile away. He made sure he had his keys and turned to go. Then he turned back and felt disappointed when he saw the four canines had already loped off.
“Thanks, anyway.” He croaked, watching them.
The four companions trotted and bounced shoulders, great bushy tails swishing as they made their way up the path. Three loped on ahead, topping the rise, disappearing over it. But the biggest one, the one who he thought had probably licked his face, sat and raised its muzzle to the sky and howled.
The tears ran along with its woeful sound, and when it ended, the young man turned and walked to the truck.

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So Sad, But Life Goes On

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I found out yesterday that one of my ex Medicaid clients died. He was 48 years old. I had gotten him out of a nursing home and back into an apartment.He was so happy to get out of the place. He had strokes and diabetes and was a heavy smoker and knew the risks but didn’t make the changes to help himself. His name is Jose Rodriguez and he was a very nice man. I wrote an article about him in the agency newsletter last year, too. Verona liked him, too, always finding him when we looked for him in the nursing home when we visited. He died of a brain aneurysm from a blood clot which originated in his lungs. He hung on for a few days, then slipped away. I wish I could’ve gone to the wake. I found out via email from the man who took over for me when I left the agency to work for the V.A. What a crappy way to find out. Not even a phone call — freakin’ email. I guess I didn’t even rate to be called. Pisses me off.

Well, Jose, I’ll miss you and I’m sad you only got to enjoy your freedom for eight months after being forced to stay in that horrible nursing home for over two years, with no one to help you . I’m glad I helped you and wish you didn’t die. It was great knowing you, my friend. I’ll see you again someday at the end of the path.

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Out And About With Verona

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Mystic with Verona
June 27-July 1, 2011

Counselor’s training began on Monday at 1:30 pm. Before that, Jerry and April helped me tour the hotel. As we went to and from Our room, Verona would stop at a door to another room that wasn’t ours. If we were going out, she’d stop and look at the door on the left, if we were coming back, she would stop and indicate the door on the right. She found our door every time, though. Silly dog. She only made a few minor errors. One was due to a dog distraction when the PTSD service dog folks were waiting to go inside the meeting room and we were coming out of the meeting room. She was supposed to go to the bathroom, and she blew by it and took me right to the dogs instead. We also had a clearance error but it was due to an overcrowded sidewalk in downtown Mystic. The pedestrian drawbridge barrier was in place at chest level jutting out perpendicular to the side walk, and it was not painted orange or striped or in a place that would allow folks to pass it on the safe side of the sidewalk. Ro didn’t see it and it caught me on the right boob. I corrected her and reworked it but the crowd was blocking us and I’m not sure if she even understood what the error was.

We did get to go to the beach and she sat beside me off-harness and let folks pet her.She also got me up at 4:30 a.m. every morning. After a long day of counseling training sessions, she’s ready to eat dinner and take a nap on the bed. One day the cleaning staff put her sheepy plush toy up on the desk, and I asked her where it was, and she kept putting her head on my lap, pushing my hand up. Then she stepped up onto the chair between my legs, and pushed my hand over and guess what? I found the sheepy. Rick Adare, a Veteran speaking on behalf of the PTSD service dog
program maintained by East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD), said that there isn’t an adequate way to describe how his dog, a black lab named Baskin, enhances his life, but he did say that with his dog by his side, he is doing things he would never do without her. Like going to a crowded mall, or into a busy city atmosphere. I identified with him, as I felt isolated when I was a cane user, and now it doesn’t matter if I’m going into a crowded mall or a quiet path in a park. Verona takes charge and keeps me safe, and has my back, just like Baskin does for Rick. Only a person who has experienced being trained with a working dog, whether it is a K-9 dog, alert dog, a psychiatric service dog, or a guide dog has opened himself to allowing the dog to handle his vulnerability along with the disability. This is profound and the general public needs to be educated on this fact along with the other FAQs, like the responsibilities and daily activities of working with a service dog. I was asked by the Disabled Veteran’s working Group to come and Speak to them about blindness. We had much in common, and I also impressed upon them that while I don’t share their veteran experience I can meet them in the disability experience. It was an enriching dialogue and I hope to keep in touch with them.

Verona is happy to be home and see our family. Next week it’s Reno, Nevada, and after that, who knows?

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