Our Lady of Perpetual Sleepiness

Monday, July 09, 2007

My arm is incredibly sore from the tetanus shot that I got this morning. Why did I get this shot? Not only am I trying to be a responsible citizen in keeping up my immunizations (and use as much of the insurance as I can before I am kicked off), but I also was potentially exposed to tetanus this weekend. The pictures on Wikipedia are incredibly scary, even more so when viewed in the wee hours of the morning. So I went in first thing.

How was I exposed to tetanus? That is where the interesting part of the story comes in. My lovely friend Jamie came to visit me in Austin this weekend. We wanted to spend some time outside as the sun was actually shining for the first time in weeks, so we trekked down to Barton Springs. Unfortunately, the pool was closed due to flooding- the water was really gross, smelly, and murky. Walking along the creek, we stopped just below the pool area, where the water shoots out from the dam and it becomes a creek again. It is posted "no swimming" and is apparently popular with the dogs (one of my co-workers called it the poor man's Barton, since you don't have to pay). Since our feet were tired from hiking about a mile in flip flops, we sat on the side of the banks to watch the people and dogs swimming. It was peaceful.

Then, two kids began screaming for help. They had swam into the part of the creek where the water's current was incredibly fast. Jamie ran in the water after them and I ran in after her. We pushed the boy towards another swimmer who was out of the current and helped the girl get across out of the current to the other bank. The girl would not climb up onto the bank (it was really brushy), so we pushed her up there and walked up.

Now, I am new to Austin and Jamie, of course, was a visitor, so we did not know that there was a bridge across the stream about 20 minutes away. Thus, we thought the only way was to swim back across. Jamie helped the girl across and I stayed behind to watch them, just in case they got into trouble.

Just as the girl made it across, the woman that was watching her showed up next to me on the bank. She didn't think that anyone was helping the kids, so she swam across as we made the rescue. Panic was written all over her face and she had jumped in wearing jeans and tennis shoes (we were in our bathing suits). She and I talked about how to get across as I tried to calm her down by pointing out that the two kids were now safely back on the other side. Also, I tried to get her to take off her jeans and tie them around her waist so they wouldn't restrict her movement. She refused, saying she didn't want people to see her "fat butt."

Finally, we tried to make our way across. I stayed near her, but I didn't want to get too close in case she tried to grab on to me. She got weighed down by the jeans (didn't listen to me), tried to swim directly across the current (didn't listen to me), and grabbed back onto the brush (did listen to me). For a moment, I really thought she was going to drown and I was so incredibly sad and guilty, but I couldn't risk helping her swim across. The woman had about 3 inches and 50 pounds on me and had managed to get herself into another swift current, just by the flood gate. I thought she was going to get swept up into the gate, held there by the force of the water. I thought I was going to see someone die.

Somehow, though, she got a hold of that brush and pulled herself up. She walked around to the far off bridge and was reunited with her son. I'm Catholic, a bit of a lapsed one, but I thanked God for giving Jamie and me the strength to do this and for Him not subjecting us to seeing someone die on Saturday.

After the rescue, while the lady was walking back, we watched the kids who we rescued (not her children) and her son. Her son was in a rage- he was so pissed that the other two kids dared each other to swim into that current. He was throwing rocks into the creek, narrowly missing people. It was incredibly awkward to try and get him to stop. Jamie told him that he sucked when he missed something that he was trying to hit (a tree?), which she didn't mean to do, but it was funny. She also asked if he had anger management issues. He told her "that's what my counselor said." Eeek! We also talked with the kids we saved, who had hippy-dippy names. They were remarkably chilled out, what with their near death experience.

Later, the lady walked up, soaked and angry and grateful. I saw her coming up the path before her son did, so I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed. He ran to her and wrapped himself around her, crying. It was really quite touching. She thanked us and they went on their way. Jamie and I left before we had to save anyone else. We were all bruised and scratched from who-knows-what with water contaminated with invisble nasties. Thus the tetanus shot.

But then we got to lay out at Zilker Park and life was good.

Oh yeah and thanks, indifferent Austinites, for ignoring drowning kids and their rescuers and offering no help at all before or after the event. Good form, really.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day! This holiday has always inspired me to reflect some about its nature. I try each year to read the Declaration of Independence (I know, I am a history nerd) and imagine what it must have been like to draft it. So much has changed in the 231 years of our nation's freedom, yet this document still exists and thrives. It resonates when you read it out loud, the way it was surely meant to be read. Through multiple wars and corrupt leaders, we can still go back to this document and be inspired to change.

I worry about the state of our government right now, after today's read-through. Life today just moves so fast and is on such a larger scale that I wonder if our leaders think the Declaration almost quaint- if they believe that they are above the standards set by the leaders of long ago. It seems that our most recent politicians are in it for personal gain, not because they believe they can improve the lives of the citizens of this nation.

I saw Sicko, directed by Michael Moore, today, as a part of my effort to be a well-informed, active citizen. It made me cry in several parts, because there were times that I could really identify with those he was interviewing. In several months, I will become one of the 45 million citizens that are uninsured. "This could be me," I thought to myself as I watched. I will write up a review with my impressions of the film tomorrow of this weekend, as it is definitely thought-provoking.

Finally, I want to leave you with a video of Keith Olbermann's Special Comment from 7/3/2007. In it, he calls for the resignation of both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. He sums up the whole sorry affair known as the Bush Presidency much more eloquently than I ever could:

Monday, July 02, 2007

I know I have this propensity to do a massive update about once every six months, and then resolve to do better next time. Well, here is my roughly scheduled info purge:

  • Finished my senior thesis about environmental inequity in Brazos Valley and am now working on getting it ready to pare down into an article. I also won second place in the student research week and am now the proud owner of a tiny music box. Er, that is, an iPod shuffle.
  • Graduated magna cum laude in May. I got an unexpected Euro kiss on stage, which was hilarious. I did not buy the picture, unfortunately.
  • Currently, I am working for the state environmental agency. It has been a tremendous learning experience and I think I have gained an important view into how the government works. Although, I am very worried about gaining a fat ass from sitting on it all day, since I haven't been able to work out due to the weather here.
Aaron, you make me want to be a better blogger. We should try to do a Top Chef commentary with screen caps or something, haha.

Just for kicks, here is a video of the indomitable Mike Rowe before he was on the Discovery Channel, but still a badass. I am so glad he rose above QVC: