IMR: 1998: June: 17 -- Wednesday, 8:27 a.m.
College of Business, Univ. of Hawai`i, Hawai`i
Well, I've been waiting here outside the office for an hour now, huddled against a wall and listening to the echoes of droll conversations from every corner of this ridiculously-designed building. I sorted out all my receipts, paid a dozen or so bills, and balanced my checkbook.

I come in to work every morning at 7:30 a.m. Usually, someone's in an adjacent office, allowing me to sneak in and finish as much work as possible before Laurel, my boss, arrives at about 9:30 or so (after which point, strangely enough, considerably less work gets done). Usually, if someone's not in, I go downstairs to the Dean's Office to pester someone to dig out the key and let me in.

Usually. I just don't feel inclined to do so today.

So now I've updated my list of "movies seen" in my neglected Palm Pilot, looked over Prof. Kato's syllabus for Journalism 425 (two assignments are due on the first day of class), and did a little work on my little "InMedia Review" project.

Um. Well, it's a beautiful day out...

Katie went in for her four-month checkup yesterday. She's 13.5 pounds, 26 inches tall, and right where she should be developmentally (strength, reflexes, etc.).

Dr. Boyens was intrigued by her build. She's in the 90th percentile in length (i.e. in the tallest ten percent), but holding steady at the 50th percentile in weight. Meaning, she's extraordinarily tall and thin.

I presume he might have been worried about malnourishment, as he asked about the frequency of feedings and the like. But when he heard about my mutant brother -- six feet tall and barely over 100 pounds, in a whole family of short Japanese people -- he seemed satisfied.

She was cooing and kicking, and seemed happy and proud to be impressing the doctor. Unfortunately, Katie's day would turn out to be pretty rotten.

She had to get three immunizations, one orally and two shots. Dr. Boyens also ordered a standard blood test for her. Jen looked physically ill as the inevitable moment approached. I wasn't exactly all smiles, either.

There's no way to explain what goes through your mind (and heart) when you see your beautiful young daughter's bright smiling face suddenly collapse into an instant of confusion then flush red and explode into tears. Especially when you know this miniature person really has no other experience with pain. Naieve and trusting, assuming the universe is a perfect and peace place... As a parent, you want that feeling -- however false -- to last forever.

With guidance from the nurse -- who advised me to hold Katie firmly and Jen to just talk and sing to her without stopping -- the shots didn't actually go too badly. She cried, sure, but only for a few seconds. Then she promptly forgot about it. God bless the short-term memory ability of infants.

Then it was across the hospital for her blood test.

While we waited for Katie to be called, she fell asleep in my arms. Jen whispered the hope that perhaps she'd just sleep through it, but we both knew she wouldn't. And if there's anything more wrenching than seeing a happy baby suddenly scream with pain and fear, it's seeing a sleeping baby suddenly scream with pain and fear.

Eventually it was time. I brought Katie in back, and was instructed to sit in a chair holding Katie against me (the last time, we were able to put her on a bed). As the nurse prepared the vials and needles, I meditated on Katie's peaceful face. I knew it wasn't going to be that way for long.

The nurse grabbed her little hand and click, her finger was pricked.

Immediately she started bawling, kicking and writhing. I held her tight, and Jen brushed her cheek and chanted, "It's all right, Katie, we're here, Katie."

The amount of blood that streamed out was... surprising. The nurse couldn't keep up with it -- she had to put the vials down several times just to wipe it away, and she ultimately hadn't set up enough wads of gauze. In no time it was all over our hand and my fingers.

I've never, ever felt queasy at the sight of blood -- mine or anyone else's. But the shiny crimson droplets coming out of my daughter's index finger made my head spin.

On the bright side, it was over much quicker than it had ever been, and soon she was bandaged and out the door. Less than a minute later, with some shushing and bouncing, she was fast asleep again. We had to wait around a few more minutes to be sure everything was okay, then finally headed home.

Jen was quite agitated, furious that the nurse had taken the blood from Katie's finger, as usually they pricked the heel of her foot. Having dried blood under my fingernails didn't help my state of mind, either.

After I had time to think, though, I reasoned it might have been a good call. First off, it was over much quicker, since before the flow would be so weak they'd have to squeeze her foot to keep it coming. Thus, secondly, it was perhaps less uncomfortable. And finally, the problem with the squeezing method was that it often ruptured the blood cells and ruined the sample... meaning it would have to be done all over again.

Nonetheless, Katie was a major grump the rest of the day. When we joined William for a late-night snack at Zippy's, she screamed and fussed so much that Jen and I had to socialize in shifts, taking turns pacing outside with her.

Yesterday for lunch we hit McDonald's and tried their new Chicken McNugget Szechuan sauce, introduced in conjunction with Disney's "Mulan" promotion.

Tasty, but a bit too similar to the standard barbeque flavor.

The best part, though, was that the 20-piece "Imperial Pack" came in a faux Chinese take-out box. Too cute.

Even better, in addition to the box's "Mulan" motif, there's a couple of fortune cookies pictured on one side. Underneath, in tiny print, the McLawyers disclaim, "Fortune cookies not available at McDonalds."

Finally took the car in to Lex Brodie's.

Everyone, it seemed, was rightfully paranoid by the incessant squeaking of the brakes. And the leaking power-steering system -- which remained functional if I remembered to put four ounces of fluid in every three or so days -- was getting annoying.

I anticipated the brakes to be a major job, since they squeaked since the day I got the car and often squeaked even when I wasn't braking at all. So I told them to just fix it and to only give me an estimate for the leak.

A few hours later, though, they called to say the brakes were fine.

"Nothing's wrong... you've got at least a year or so of wear left in those pads," the guy said. "Sometimes, you know, they'll just squeak no matter what you do."

Indeed, the car never had problems stopping. The process no doubt caused nearby ears to bleed, but...

So, I had them fix the power steering instead.

The job cost $170, but since I was leaking about $5 in fluid a week, in the long run most certainly that's a reasonable price.

Next on the car's fix list? Since the shocks seem to be fine ("I think Maxima's are just really low in general," says William), all that's left is the clutch fan ($220), a few loose bits of trim ($10 for epoxy and a free afternoon), and a few obscure rust spots ($?).

Did I mention? The car's name is Jane.

I generally think naming cars is a little ridiculous. (Though I guess if you frame the justification as "very attached to" rather than "since I can't afford a boat," it isn't quite so weird.)

But the Maxima, as I mentioned, talks. A grainy female voice that doesn't sound half bad for an 18-year-old computer chip in the dashboard. "Lights are on," "Key is in the ignition," "Left door is open," and "Fuel is low."

The headlight warning has already saved my butt on numerous occassions. So I figured a proper name was the least I could do in return.

Her actual name is "3Jane," after a character in a cyberpunk novel by William Gibson. But try as I might, although Jen will humor me in acknowledging the existence of a name in general, she won't hear of the weird numeric prefix. So Jane it is.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 17 June 1998 · Last Modified: 17 June 1998