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Sunday, December 25, 2005 December 25, 2005

Posted by johnisenglish in Journalish.

I haven’t posted in a while. Not because important things haven’t been happening, but for the opposite reason. There’s been good, but there’s been a really really huge bad. The biggest bad I think I’ve ever known. Maybe not, but it’s definitely in the running for that title.

It’s gonna take a little bit to warm myself up, so I’m gonna start with the good stuff.

The semester is over! w00t. Now that everything is behind me, I feel good about it. This was an interesting semester, in that it was the first one where I felt established, and knew what was I was doing and why. My goal was no longer to find my place but to take what I started and build on it. Although there was certainly always room for improvement, on the whole, I do think that I did just about everything well. Earth Club has exploded from five people sitting on some benches in a lobby to a 15+ regular attendance organization that does a lot. If nothing else, we’ve definitely gotten a lot of people excited about and involved with environmental activism. I went from having no place in the dance program here, and being away from dance for years to finding my feet again and making huge improvements. I made a number of new friends, and I’m still enjoying the ones I started with. I’ve expanded my cooking pallet, and I’m still vegan (w00t). I’ve gotten into biking and I’m stilling regularly going to the gym. I’m hands down in the best shape of my life. I was in several ultimately successful performances. I’ve joined two more organizations that are doing very good work, and the whole “networking” thing is actually turning out to be pretty damn effective. I’ve read some awesome books, and I’ve internally reworked and updated my views on life, the universe and everything. My life in Charlotte is a good one, and I like myself. I got a B in Electrostatics!!!!!!!!! And A’s in everything that I was shooting for an A in. The semester came out to be a 3.5, making my cumulative GPA something like a 3.63. I’m going to be doing even more cool stuff next semester. I’m now definitely getting a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, a B.S. in Physics and a minor in Math, and more importantly I know exactly what I’m going to be taking and doing in order to get them.

Right now I’m at my parents house in Greensboro. This trip has been really strange, and very much unlike what being here is usually like. That’s getting to the bad stuff, but I suppose it’s about time for that.

Three weeks ago tomorrow, Chris Zirker had a snow boarding accident, breaking his neck. Immediately after the accident he was completely paralyzed below his neck. Over the next two days he had two surgeries to repair the damage that could be repaired, fusing his C4 and C7 vertebrae using metal plates and bone tissue from his hip. The amount of damage to his spinal cord – then and to this day – is not entirely clear. What we do know is that it is NOT severed, which is extremely important. As of now he has limited control of his biceps, shoulders, some abs, and I believe some wrist. He has at least some feeling almost everywhere (which is a very good sign). It is possible that he’ll make a very strong recovery and regain and good deal of mobility. But he might not.

Since the accident I’ve been spending a lot of time up in Charlottesville at the hospital, along with his parents and (amazing/wonderful/awesome) girlfriend Cathrine, usually in 2 – 4 day increments. It’s been a week since I was last there, and I’m going back up on Tuesday. The first time I went up he was in ICU, but they moved him into a normal hospital room that day. That trip was hard. Hard as hell. I can’t even begin to express it in words, and the harder I try the closer I get to falling apart. A lot of this is just not thinking about it in any depth. Be there, do what needs to be done. Think, plan, but only feel half way. Any more and you can’t function.

The second time I went up things were so much better. He was in rehab – much nicer then the normal hospital – and medically was 180 degrees (pi radians) from where he was just a few days before. I spent the night there with him on the second night I was up, and all the sudden his temperature spiked up to 104 or so and they rushed him to the ER. Fuck. He had a really bad infection, and they put him on a light quarantine. Fuck. I had to leave that day. I think maybe two days later he had to have a third surgery, because they found out he has a small hole in his esophagus, letting shit into his system and causing that infection. Fuck.  That was just a few days ago. Now he’s doing better – infection looks to have gone away, and he’s climbing back up to where he was when he first went to rehab.

Where ever he ultimately ends up, it’s gonna take a long time to get there.

When I left him up there to go back down to Charlotte for exams, it SUCKED, but at least in Charlotte I have a pretty much independent life and I can focus on that. Now I’m back in Greensboro, where I’m supposed to be hanging out with Chris. There’s not a lot else to think about. Whenever I’m with someone in Greensboro they want to know about how he’s doing, so that’s a good majority of what we talk about. I keep thinking about it and then I want to DO SOMETHING about it, but I can’t, not here. When I’m up there I can at least help, and even more importantly I get to see him, but not here. Damn. Fuck.

On the good side, though, I’m starting to normalize out. On Thursday and Friday I was all out of whack, as the reality of the situation really hit me. Right now I’m feeling a lot better about it. It’s strange, though, as when I first found out I fell apart. A day later I was okay, and remained that way until I got back here, and went though it all over again. But I think I’m okay now. Writing this all down has helped a lot.

I just care about Chris like I care about almost no one else. He’s been one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and probably ever will have. I think my knowing him has influenced me more then anything in, at least in the past four or five years. I’ve become so much more determined, which is something that I lacked before our friendship and something that I’ve always greatly admired in him. I miss him so much. I know that things will eventually calm down. He’ll eventually be out of the hospital, and however he ends up we’ll hang out and talk about audio compression and warp drives and relationships and school. But right now it just seems like an unimaginable injustice that he’s laying in a hospital bed, and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I was able to do a few cool things for Chris that I’m really happy about. I got some of the guys in Swift to give him a call, and I got the Urban Sophisticates to send him a signed copy of their new album (which is very good, by the way).

If nothing else, this whole ordeal has highlighted the fact that I really do have a good home in Charlotte.

Oh, ironically speaking of which, I got quasi-mugged last week. There was no physical violence involved, but it was made fairly clear to me that there would be should I not volunteer the contents of my wallet. Lame, and the final straw for UT. Over the summer I’m gonna move to probably College Station or Campus Walk, though I’m certainly not under the misconception that anywhere is a whole lot better. However, around UNCC, UT is towards the bottom, if not THE bottom, and I feel like staying wouldn’t be the wisest decision. I don’t know. I guess it really is all up in the air right now. As far as roommates go I really like Sam and Jason and don’t want to leave them if they are both going to stay at our current place, so that’s definitely a factor to weigh in. bleh.

I visited Dr. Hill in the hospital on Thursday. He was in a car accident on Thanksgiving that killed his wife and the guy driving that car that hit them (which was passing on a curve in a no passing zone) and leaving him in ICU for several weeks. He seemed happy to see me, which I was very glad of, as I didn’t know how he’d feel about it. He was in much better shape then I thought, and we had a nice conversation, mostly on school and engineering.

I cut the shit out of my finger with a new chef’s knife that my Mom got me. I pretty much cut my left index fingernail in half, which SUCKS. It’s been stinging forever.

I feel bad for being irritable towards my family. There’s a lot going on and I’ve been very inconsistent with them, sometimes being cool and others falling into a pit of bad-mood-age and unpleasantness. They don’t deserve that. No one deserves that right now. All these shitty things that have been happening aren’t anyone’s fault, they just happen. They’re not without purpose, and not without good, either, but I suppose that’s getting into a realm of thinking that is best left to another time.

I was thinking today that there have been a lot of times in myself where after someone says something relatively important I grow silent, and then they ask me what I’m thinking. I didn’t know how to answer that for a long time, and I didn’t really know why. But now I realize that it was a trick question, because in those specific times I’m not thinking – I’m feeling. I’m just letting myself passively experience all the emotions that are moving around, and from there I’m able to better understand the situation and myself in it. It just takes a little bit of time. I’m really glad that I stumbled upon that.

Anyway, I’m gonna read about quantum symmetry, because its fun and happy. What will those crazy quarks and bosons be up to next! I’ll try to make my next post happier.



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