Friday the 13th

By now pretty much everyone knows what happened in Paris. An act of terror and carnage that reached a new level and introduced a new front to the arena. When I woke up none of this had happened yet. The events of the day before especially the wet atmosphere prompted me to be more ready today. Dutifully I put in a raincoat before stepping out. 

“No rain yet” as the sleepy state wore off along the walk to work. I’ve been feeling nostalgic at work. The senses zero in an all the textures and aspects of the job. At once familiar and curious. The fifteen minute wait for the boot up. The keys to unlock the rooms have a heft to them a solidity that is not always present in keys. The early morning chat with my boss. 

I only realized what day it was when reading the first requisition while the patient changed. It said “(Fri) Nov 13…” I mentioned this to my boss. He acknowledged the date too with a smirk. 

My first patient was short and heavyset. The bore of the machine has a fixed diameter and although there is a weight limit the actual success of fitting a patient inside depends on their body habitus. An unsuccessful attempt is probably the worst part of the job. I told the patient that I was going to attempt a dry run first. They agreed. There is no point in going through all the trouble and finding out that it won’t work. In this instance it didn’t. The patient felt a little embarrassed and they told me about how the hormonal therapy they have for their condition makes them this way. They told me how when they tried to have them go off the therapy they lost weight but that their kidneys started to fail as a consequence of their condition. I understand how this happens as a consequence and why our test is important for the evaluation of their condition. This situation is one of the  worst parts of my job. 

I spent the next hour organizing some work for myself. There were some cases that came in recently and one of them sounded like it should be done urgently. It was a suspected muscle infection on an otherwise healthy young almost adult. Things were taking a long time to happen. I checked in on my boss to see how his case was going. He was a bit involved in his case. His patient couldn’t hear the prerecorded instruction so he had to instruct the patient to hold their breath each time it was time to do so. In the case of this study it’s probably a hundred or so times. The irony is that it’s his voice that’s pre recorded. 

When my patient did arrive I had just returned from my coffee break and helped my colleague to finish the set up. This was going to be a long study and we noticed that the bladder was awfully distended. We enquired with the patient about their feeling regarding their status. We figured it was best to do this now than at some point later on. The patients condition prevented them from being independently mobile so it took both of us to get them into the loo and then back again. As the case progressed and we had some sequences completed we reviewed this case with a rad. The condition we were investigating is rare and it looked like it was positive. We also needed to cover more area and that required a change in the coils. This took more time. Luckily today for some reason we had time so there wasn’t as much pressure to get things done quickly. The whole team has been good and we have been getting cases through efficiently as they come in. The patient expressed their thanks for all the trouble they put us through. It’s nice when people express their gratitude. It doesn’t have to be this gushing heartfelt excercise but an aknowledgement usually suffices. 

The day kept moving along and as the afternoon shift started to come in the first news of what was going on in Paris started to filter in. At about the same time our RIS system went down. The system is important in maintaining the proper matching of patient to study and making sure the right person is there for this evaluation. The whole place started to grind to a halt. Whereas there was time in the morning that time was slowly or quickly starting to dissipate. The schedule now became tighter as the number of cases started to increase. 

There was time once some things started to settle down and be fixed to check the news. The number of desceased was still low. Me and a colleague discussed our experiences of Paris and we wondered about the details that will evolve over the next little while about this event. As we cycled through the cases and the ever continuous newsfeed the scale and scope of the tragedy became clearer. It is a bold attack by a group whose influence on some is powerful. The day was soon over and I came home to freshen up in preparation for Barbs arrival. As I was flossing my teeth one of my fillings fell out 😐.

Barbs had asked me earlier in the week if I would be interested in helping her and a friend record something that would be used as promotional material for a project that she is involved with. We were going to go to one of her friends’ flats where they wanted something filmed. Barbs is involved in an eventual theatrical production that needs some fundraising to see it fulfilled. The subject matter is provocative and the group is comprised of disparate personalities. Her friend certainly has a presence when we are introduced. 

Barbs and I certainly play with the roles we inhabit. Like a rabbit that hops along at various speeds from one place to another so we move between the different places hopping from one character to another. It’s a good thing that we had some time to prepare and get some food to eat. I had never been involved in a production such as this. This is a creative venture but at least we had something to work with. There is this initial idea of filming her lips and the application of lipstick. It sounds simple enough. 

This is part of the production a scene that describes the feelings and sensuality involved in the preparation for the service. She had lights and a camera. I brought my own too. The flat overlooked the city rising off in the distance. She was going to look at herself in a mirror with the city reflecting as the background. I was going to stand off by the side and focus in on the lips themselves. The idea is to capture the reflection from a fixed point and I would operate my camera from the side. This footage would then be combined into one. 

Some time ago I watched this YouTube video about the basics of lighting. I was trying to remember the basics of it as I played around with the configuration. First though I had to assemble everything and then also figure out the way that her camera worked. Barbs helped her friend get into character by trying on different ensembles as well as sitting in the spot so that I could get the lighting right. Barbs practiced reading the monologue and I heard the words that were to be acted out. It was quite sensual. With all the elements in place we started and as the first application was to be applied the battery began to flash and I said “Stop!” instead of “cut!”

There was a strange look and I had this innocent “what?” look. It’s better to say this now than during the middle of the filming. They both agreed and I hurriedly changed the battery. I repositioned myself and everyone got into the spirit of it as I clapped my hands as a way of synchronizing the filming. The words had a resonance with her. It was a way of getting into character for the role she was about to play. The words are an amalgamation of the way her life was for a while and the lipstick a final piece a finishing touch to the overall composition. With them the fantasy becomes real the words reflecting the thoughts behind those times. The thoughts that with the wisdom of time are to have a resonance in order to empower and entice the fundraising that is to come. 

The results were pretty good. This was a kind of gonzo production but nonetheless we made it work. We chatted for some time afterwards about life and the way that North America differs from Europe. We talked about some of our experiences and the way society is and how we feel being in it. The world is certainly changing and our individual lives seek to express themselves within the collective to everyone’s satisfaction. The threads representing our lives intertwining in temporary entanglements. 

It’s now Saturday the fourteenth and I’ve avoided reading about yesterday’s events in deapth. I noticed  that they adjusted the total casualty count down and that the first reports about the identities of the suspects are becoming known. I’ve busied myself with creating as a way of channeling in between getting some chores finished. We said our goodbyes earlier both of us busy with the projects that have their time to be done right now. 

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