Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Befriending Big Brother

Today is my big brother Kirito's birthday (called Death on big brother Ace's blog). The youngest of my honorary older brothers, he is also the most recent to be adopted, as it were.

I had been aware, for a few years, of Kirito as an upperclassmen. I'd seen him repeatedly in the halls and had the vague knowledge that he was smart and played computer games. He was on academic team as well, and would quite often give people mint gum for no real reason. I found it fascinating, the different kinds he would produce, all mint: spearmint, winter mint, etc. Naturally, I wanted to befriend him. There was only one problem: I am incredibly shy.

My freshmen year, my sister and I became fans of the writer Ted Dekker, and it is only natural that we would share the names of any other fans we came across. Kirito was one my sister mentioned. Almost the entire school year later, Kirito and I were both on a bus letting other people off before us. I had been reading Dekker's Thre3, and I still wanted to befriend Kirito. However, I was terrified to start the conversation, so I readjusted my hold on the book to a position that, while it was slightly uncomfortable, looked natural and allowed him to see the cover. Somehow, it worked.

"That's a good book."

"Really?" I looked up at him (he's actually quite tall).

"Yeah." He smiled gently.

And there lay two problems in my plan.
  1. I hadn't read enough of the book yet to make it into a conversation. 
  2. Even if I had, I was too shy to do so.
My junior year, I signed up to help an elementary teacher during one period of the day. I was assigned to Mrs. T. There are several Mrs. T's in the elementary, and I was relieved to find that another student would be helping her that period too. I could bluff about knowing what I was doing and follow the student to her room. I quickly discovered that Kirito was that other student and that he didn't know either.

In the Mrs. T's classroom, we could have very easily spoken rarely, staying to our own tasks. That is not what happened. Starting the first day, Kirito would talk to me. I had never heard him talk so much before. He told me about anime, music, and multiple other topics. Many days, he would work with one earbud in, and I would look up from helping a student to see him air drumming to the music. A few times, it looked like he was pretending to beat the children over their heads. He wasn't though; he was just lost in the music. I came to know his quirks of behavior: how he can't tell a story he likes without standing up and how he practically glows when he's talking about something he loves.

We would talk in the hall after that period too. He could make me really laugh, something that didn't happen often that year. We discussed choice weapons in a fantasy setting. His was the scythe, and he correctly guessed mine: bow and arrow. We also discussed Ted Dekker. He didn't remember how he knew that I was aware of his love of Dekker's books, but when I brought them up, he beamed. "You remembered!"

My junior year was hard. I had days when all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and cry until I passed out from exhaustion. I felt alone, utterly alone. My closest friends were disappearing, some had graduated the year before and others were gone for different reasons. I don't know if I could have survived the school year without him.

So, long story short, happy birthday Kirito. I am so glad you talked to me and became my big brother.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Blood Drive

I have never given blood before, not because I didn't want to. Circumstances have always worked against my desire to help. Thursday, I was able to break that pattern. I decided to donate blood.

I was nervous, to be perfectly honest. That's normal. Who wouldn't be nervous the first time a lifeless, plastic and metal mosquito feed on a vein?

As I walked into the room, a nurse smiled at me and handed me the forms I needed to fill out. After the paperwork, I sat at a little desk with another nurse. She brushed back a strand of short blond hair as she fastened the cuff of the blood pressure monitor around my arm. As it tightened, a snake strangling its prey, I felt each pulse of blood with thundering clarity. Only a moment and she was scribbling down my blood pressure (110/69) and pulse (73) onto a form. Next came my temperature (98.6). I watched as she prepared to prick my finger and calculate my hemoglobin. I'd had that done once before and watched her little device cautiously. It sharply bit my finger regardless. Hemoglobin came back as normal as could be expected (14.4).

I let my mind stray for a moment while a little machine nearby whirred. Of course the little tool for pricking fingers had shot its pointed end out so quickly. If it were slower, people would have time to flinch and pull away. The blood that came out was dark, a deep burgundy that made me think of my sister.

I vaguely became aware that I had grown hot. My head felt fuzzy and muted, grey even. I figured that, like being nervous, this was normal, but there could be no harm in asking, just to be on the safe side.

"Is it normal to feel hot and light-headed?"

She blinked and frankly answered, "Nope. It means you're not giving blood today. Lie down in the floor and put your feet in the chair." She left me and went in pursuit of a damp cloth.

A third nurse leaned around the side of her desk towards me. "Are you okay, Sweetie?" Her voice sounded odd, like I was under water.

I nodded.

I stayed there for about twenty minutes, head against cool concrete. If I had been left there much longer, I may have struck up a conversation in my head with the nearby trashcan. Eventually, I was given a little food and a cup of water before being released back into the world.

Oh well, there's always next time.


Herot saw Grendel
come to feast on man flesh in joy.
Beowulf said no.

A terrible fight
and Beowulf is victor.
Bad dude lost his arm.

Grendel’s mom was mad.
Then our hero killed her too.
Beowulf. So cool.

He went home and ruled
for fifty years in glory.
Fate ruined it all.

Dragon went raging
through peaceful Geat countryside.
Beowulf said no.

Though now old, he fought.
The dragon wounded the king.
Oh, that had to hurt.

Men were cowards, but
young Wiglaf ran to help him.
Young fool or hero?

The dragon got killed.
There was lots of gold to loot.
Beowulf. He dead.

Funeral is sad.
Dudes are shamed, got no fame.
Wiglaf is the man.