Saturday, December 31, 2011

Murphy and Me XXXXI

Murph moved back to the fishbowl three days later. He didn't move well - or fast - and he looked much the same as he had when he was lying in a bed on the second floor of Geneva General. Pale. Borderline paper-white even days after emergency surgery. He spent a lot of his spare time sleeping, a phase I remembered well because it took almost all my energy to go to class and focus that first week back almost a year ago.

Murph had left the fishbowl unlocked so I could swing by and see him in the afternoon. The major perk of having morning classes was being done by one-thirty, except on lab days.

The room was as dark as it could be at two in the afternoon. There were some Get Well Soon cards on the desk, including one from my parents and one from Izzy and her family. El had made some scribbles on the inside in blue crayon, which had made him smile.

He lay on his back, Smokey and Edgar propped on the inside pillow and keeping a careful plastic eye on the sleeping college student. I pulled the desk chair over and curled in it.

The months peeled away.

"You're gonna be here when I wake up?"

Mama pushed my hair from my face. "I will be here when you wake up."

The nurse - a twenty-something Russian by the sound of it - wheeled me, bed and all, toward the OR. He gave me roughly half of what was gonna knock me flat and I spaced out for a minute.

One moment there was a gurney under me, the next there was a metal table and it was cold. The surgeon - maybe it was him, maybe it wasn't - leaned in. Matchbox Twenty filtered through from somewhere.


"Hi." He smiled, pushing something into my IV port.

"I like Matchbox Twenty."

Everything went dark.

Mama had been there when I woke the first time and then promptly went back to sleep. Woke up sometime a little later and tried to stay conscious.

Though knocked out completely is a little less fun than being consciously sedated - eyes open but definitely not all there.

"Thinkin' kinda loud, Ol."

I clutched at the chair, almost slipping out of it. How long had he been awake and looking?

"Sorry." Got settled again and smiled. "Hi."

"Hey. Whatcha thinkin' about?"

"Surgery." No point in beating around the proverbial bush. "Mine, that is." I'd had plenty of time to think about Murph's in the ER. Think. Freak. Repeat. "I - I missed the first El went tubing. I'd been out of surgery about a week and going up and down the stairs was about it. I sat in the kitchen and drank tea." And absolutely hated it. But it was beyond my control.

"This winter, then."

"Yeah." It just needed to snow first. "Yeah. How you holdin' up?"

"I spend a lot of time in this bed. Sleeping."

Yeah. Knew all about that, too. The only time I'd been "up" had been to be fed a pain pill and then it was Goodnight, Gracie.

Murph made an aborted move to roll over and settled back with his eyebrows drawn together. "I hate sleeping on my back."

Which made two of us. It would be another two or three days before his heels got sore enough to add to his problems.

"My heels hurt, too."

Or not. Make that sooner. "Yeah. I know about that, too." I curled in the chair and balanced well enough to rest my cheek on Murph's pillow and blinked. "You hungry or anything?"

"Not really."


"Not right now."

He reached up and tangled his fingers with mine, the digits rather cool. Gently touched my forehead to his, relieved when it wasn't overly warm.

"At least you're not feverish." Which was honestly a good thing. Fevers were usually bad.

"I'm just bored." He looked at me, blinking and breathing. "I'm not gonna break."

It took me a few seconds to figure out what he meant, and my first instinct was to panic. What if he accidentally tore something? What if I accidentally made him accidentally tear something?

"Ollie." He waited until he had my attention. "Please."

Good Lord, when did he get Anime eyes?

This was going to take some strategizing to make this as painless as possible - relatively speaking.

Ultimately what we wound up doing was Murph sitting up long enough for me to slide behind him to put my back against the wall he used as a headboard. There was a pillow shoved in the small of my back and another under my shoulders, and then I had roughly two hundred pounds of football player against my chest, lower body wedged between my thighs. Thank God for my wide hips.

Most of Murph's weight was still on the mattress, though his upper body was supported by mine. I carded my fingers through his hair, softly rubbing the tips of his ears and asking him at least fifty more times if his belly was still alright.

"Yes, Ol," he said, a big palm on my thigh, the warmth easily felt through denim. "My stitches are fine."

"Don't want you to die or anything." It was oddly reminiscent, in that moment, of the first night spent in this bed following the first ER trip.

"When are you going home for Thanksgiving?" he asked, turning his head to press his nose into my neck.

"Oh, shit, that's tomorrow, isn't it?" I'd completely spaced on that fact. Tomorrow was Thanksgiving. No wonder Mama had called to ask when the hell I was coming home. Also no wonder she'd been suitably confused when I'd said no idea.

Murph snorted. "Yeah, Ol, that's tomorrow."

"Then either tonight or tomorrow morning. I haven't started packing." Because a major holiday had totally, utterly slipped my mind. Who does that? Me, apparently. "When are you going?"

"Colby, Liam, and I are heading out tomorrow morning. We're driving separately because Liam wants me to be able to stretch out. Colby's car's gonna be the pack wagon." He snuggled closer. "And Liam likes to drive in the daylight more than the night."

Which was understandable. Most of my family - myself included - was shit at driving after dark.

I snuck my hand down the back of his shirt to rub his shoulder.

"I still have to give you your birthday present."

Took almost everything in me not to freeze. "Oh. You didn't have to."

"I know." His fingers tightened briefly on my thigh. "I wanted to, though. I even wrapped it."

I pressed a kiss to the top of his head. "Thank you." All I could say, really.

He lay there, simply breathing, and still enough to make me wonder if he'd fallen asleep.

"What are you excited to eat tomorrow?" he asked.

"Stuffing." It was a no-brainer. Stuffing was awesome. "And broccoli." Broccoli smothered in cheese. Fantastic. "You?"

"Sweet potatoes and sliced cranberry."

Hopefully not together.

"But we shouldn't talk about food right now," he said, making an abortive move to lay on his side.

"Can do." Went back to running my fingers through his hair. "I'll go home sometime tonight. I'm not overly worried."

"'Kay." His head got a little heavier.

I'd stay here until he got up - figuratively speaking - from his nap. Then maybe go pack some of my corner single into Fred and start the forty-something miles home. But for now, this was the definition of contentment to lay there and be Murphy's pillow. Not like it was a hardship.

Lugging shit down four floors of stairs sucked. Didn't care that it was dirty clothes - most of my closet - but it still sucked.

What was going to suck even worse was hauling the mini fridge down at the end of the year. But that was in the future, not now. Now was piles of dirty clothes, textbooks with homework that probably wouldn't get done anyway, and the laptop, phone charger, and cord to the mp3 player. That should have been sufficient to survive at home for three or four days.

I packed Fred and then went back to the third floor fishbowl to say one last goodbye before heading home. There were quite a few voices in the fishbowl - more than just Murph and Dev - and I almost decided to forgo knocking. Almost. But not quite.

It was quite the off-key, not totally in unison "Come in" in response, and pushing open the door revealed all my boys. With the amount of bodies - and luggage present - the room did feel a bit crowded.

Murph sat on his bed in the much same position I had earlier, still much too pale. Colby was leaning against the windowsill and Liam hovered by Murph's dresser. Dev was haphazardly throwing a multitude of things on his bed and into a duffel bag, computer already packed out of sight.

"Hey, guys." I hopped onto the foot of Murph's bed. "Gettin' ready to get outta here?"

"Dev is," Liam said, jerking his head to his left. "Where you goin' again?"

"Rockland, Maine." Dev muscled the duffel closed and leaned against the bed frame. "We decided to go to Aunt Sarah's for Thanksgiving, and Pop and Papa decided to wait until after Pop got home to leave. So we can all take turns driving through New England at two in the morning." He seemed incredibly thrilled with this idea.

"So, you and your dad and grandpa?" I ventured.

The room went oddly still. Cue wanting to shrink through the floor. How off the mark was I?

"Chill, guys," Dev said, reaching for a photo taped to the wall. "She doesn't know." He handed me the picture. Dev resembled neither of the men in it, and it had nothing to do with the fact that the one on the right was African-American. "Papa's on the left and Pop's on the right."

"Cool. And you have siblings, don't you? Sisters?"

"Yup. And we're all adopted."

I handed the picture back and the tension bled from the room. "I have one sister. I can't imagine how you deal with multiple."

Dev shrugged. "It's a gift. We're swinging by Logan in Boston to pick up Claire and Mackenzie. They're flying in from California. University of San Francisco." He re-taped it to the wall. "When are you heading out?"

"When I say goodbye to you guys. Car's packed."

"Yeah. We watched," Colby mentioned casually.

I stared. "You watched?" Didn't know whether to snark at the creepiness or the fairly ungentlemanly behavior. Settled on appropriately scandalized, instead.

"You were doin' great," he said, fighting a smile.

"Asshat." It rolled out before my brain could say otherwise. I turned to Murph. "How you doin'?"

"Ready to go home." He rubbed his eyes.

"You need another pill?" Liam asked.

"No." He reached for Edgar, wincing. "Here. Smokey's going to Lake Placid."

Moved closer to get Edgar. "He probably needs to go back to Townsend." Sat back, the stuffed animal in my lap. "I should probably get going before it gets later."

I left Murph for last, starting with Dev and doling out hugs. Murph got a little more than a hug, along with the suggestion to actually rest this time, and I picked up Edgar on my way to the door.

"Hey, Ol?"

"Yeah, Murph?"

"Text me when you get home?"

"Will do." Waved one last time, swallowed those damn three words, and managed a relatively normal, "See you in three days." I'd probably worry about him until he, Liam, and Colby got back to Lake Placid and didn't bother to fight the feeling. Not this go 'round, anyway.

Fred started first time and with both Henry and Edgar in the front seat, we pulled out of the mostly empty parking lot and started for home. The radio was one - as was the heat - and there was hardly anybody on 14 with the exception of the truck traffic. Got lucky enough to get behind one of those and we ran 70 all the way to the village limits.

It was going on eight when I backed into the family parking lot. Computer, Edgar, Henry, probably just locked the keys in the car and didn't give a damn.

Home. Sweet, sweet home. Nothing else at this point mattered.

Doors were a bit tricky with full hands, but once in they could be kicked shut easily enough. Fired off a text to Murph once inside the kitchen and had set everything down without breaking it or myself. There were giggles from the stairs. El sat on the second step, face pressed between the slats as much as possible without getting her head stuck, grinning madly. She had a few more teeth, too.

"Hey, kidlet."


I picked her up on th way up the stairs. She wrapped her arms around my neck, still giggling in between asking me how long I was home for and if I knew tomorrow was "Thanksgibbing."

Damn it was good to be home.

Murphy and Me Insert: Registration

[So, back when I was first doing the beginning of November scenes for Murphy and Me, back around when they were playing for Liberty Leagues and the right to go to the NCAA tournament, that's also when HWS does registration for the next semester. It's fairly important, more than slightly frustrating, and does deserve its own scene. Here it is.]

I'm not a fan of tedius things and my ability to keep a schedule is...lacking at best and nonexistent at worst. Schedule meaning keeping track of important dates that don't have exams and/or labs due.

Like registration.

The first reminder it was that time was the course catalogue that appared in my mailbox. Next sign was the advising week sign-up sheet on Montrose's office door.

Yep. Time to sit down and figure shit out.

So, while procrastinating on physics homework yet again, I sat on my bed and tried to make a cohesive schedule. Mostly, I tried to figure out what to use as a fourth course that would entertain me.

Putting it together was like a puzzle. A rather annoying puzzle, but still. A puzzle.

There was some shuffling in the hallway - Jo was by the partially open door. She stepped around it when I motioned her in. "You got yours done yet?"

She smiled. "Yeah. Can I borrow your orgo book?"

"Yeah." She was already borrowing my intro book, so it made sense. And was fine by me because I didn't have any intention of selling it back. It was going in my "reference" library. "I don't have a fourth yet." And it was bugging the shit out of me.

"Anthro, maybe?" she suggested, climbing up onto the foot of the bed.

"Eh." Anthropology was no entirely my style. "Maybe I should do a Bi-Dis. Izzy says those are good."


"Bidisciplinary. Two subjects, two professors." Probably twice the work and twice the fun. Most likely not in that order. "This Two Cities idea sounds pretty cool."

"Sociology and economics." Neither of which I had any experience with except for ACE Economics back in high school. Hadn't gone too badly, either. From what I chose to remember.

"Go for it." Jo glanced at some of my attempts at scheduling. "Who teaches 280?"

"Krugen." I scrubbed a hand across my face. "Physics two might be the death of me. Bensen."

"I've heard he's good." Jo put the paper down. "What classes do you have with Murphy?"

I leaned back against the pillows. "No idea." We hadn't talked about classes, mostly because he had his own degree to fulfill and I had mine. If we overlapped that was great, but we weren't going to be one of those couples who had classes together by design. There were times I didn't want to see Murph, despite how much I lo - liked him.

Where the hell was my head lately?

"No classes together?" Jo fiddled with the hem of her pants.

"Not by design." Just wasn't us.


"Yeah. I think I'll go with this." Handed her the schdeule with Two Cities in it. "Physics, the second half of intro, Two Cities, and Craft of Fiction." Oh, the life of an unofficial creative writing minor and chemistry major. Positively joyful. "When do we register, again?"

"Wednesday. Seven."

Great. Had to be up early anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. Could register and then head to breakfast and have plenty of time.

"Okay." I fumbled for my phone. New messages. Two from Izzy. Two from Murphy. Ironically, he was reminding me about registration. Bless that boy.

"Wanna do dinner tomorrow?" she asked.

"Sure." Glanced around at the array of papers on the bed with us - none of them physics related. "I think I might actually need to do homework now." Also might pop in a movie. Maybe The Princess Bride. "You're more than welcome to stay."

"I need to go call my aunt. She leaves for Turkey later this week." She slid off the bed. "Maybe some other night."

"No problem." Or maybe it was a Ghostbusters II kind of night.

Jo left and I looked at my physics book. Better yet, let's just go with the first season of Leverage. That should work.

These were the mornings I desperately wished for a coffee pot. The Fire Marshal would probably take it, but it would be worth it. So worth it.

At five minutes to seven I - and the rest of the sophomore class - booted up the computer and logged into PeopleSoft. Registration was done online and two minutes before go time, and waiting at the last stage before actual registration, I clicked open another tab to, predictably, Facebook.


Murphy McRiley: hey
Olivia Karizslowski: Mornin' sunshine!
Murphy McRiley: devs already swearin

Checked the time and clicked back to PeopleSoft. The trick was to be neither too early nor too late. The clock in the bottom right of the screen hit seven and sophomores clicked almost as one. The page gave me the loading symbol and I sat there, staring stupidly at it.

It froze.


Clicked out of the tab. Tried to, anyway. The entire browser had frozen. Double shit. Mozilla popped up with a happy fail message to which - like most others in the building and across campus - shrieked, "Shit!"

Firefox finally closed and I clicked open a new session, going first for PeopleSoft and secondly for Facebook.

Murphy McRiley: ol?
Olivia Karizslowski: got closed out by firefox
Murphy McRiley: shit
Olivia Karizslowski: no kidding

The system was a sad combination of every synonym for slow ever created. It took forever to keep back to my academic shopping cart in the program, two which I got bumped again from the last stage and literally growled at the screen. Damn it.

Third time must have been the charm because it went through with all green checkmarks, despire the fact none of the prerequisites for Two Cities were there at all.

Olivia Karizslowski: Bumped twice, still got everything. You?
Murphy McRiley: 2 for 4 gonna need to sign as overload. friggin juniors
Olivia Karizslowski: Backups?
Murphy McRiley: make that 1 overload
Olivia Karizslowski: That sounds better.
Olivia Karizslowski: I gotta go. Breakfast. Bye.

At least that was over for another semester. And I did need to go since I was currently roughly ten minutes behind getting my ass out the door for breakfast. And nothing was ready to go. Damn it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Escapades and Shenanigans

Last night (this morning, really) I set my alarm and accidentally set it for 8pm. Shortly after that, in my haste to unplug my computer cord from a barely reachable power strip wedged between the fridge, dresser, and movie crate, I accidentally switched it off and have yet to fix the damn blinking time that currently reads 1:30 in the afternoon. Needless to say this was the type of morning where liberal amounts of Kahlua wound up in my coffee, which, thankfully, I remembered to grab on my way out the door.

My analytical lab is under the impression I'm probably going to drop dead from caffeine ingestion very shortly, due to the amount of coffee I ingest on a regular basis. The only saving grace is that, according to our most recent analysis by HPLC, there less of a caffeine concentration in dark roast coffee than light roast (mostly due, we think, to the roasting process in that you literally bake the caffeine out of the bean). Also, I usually only drink after that first cup of coffee unless it's going to be a seriously hellish night, and then all bets are off. Usually by that point I've been to Timmy Horton's and am probably contemplating a Dunkin run.

The highlight of my day came this afternoon - closer to dinnertime - when my housemate found she had locked herself out of her room. Naturally, she called campo (campus police) to come open her door. So we sat there in the living room for a further five minutes, when I calmly remarked, "Don't you have a bottle of vodka sitting on your dresser?" She looked at me, muttered, "Shit," and we immediately began planning how exactly we could get in that room to hide the so-called evidence. Campo had already taken a bottle of booze from us earlier in the week (it was left out, they came to let somebody in, we got an email from Res Ed and all found it slightly hysterical), and, well, long story short, we remembered there's a fire escape going up the back side of the house, conveniently stopping at the window of our house manager who happens to share a bathroom with my locked out roommate. House manager was not at the house. There wasn't enough time to get shoes on, so, out the door we go - her in socks, me barefoot - and around to the back of the house.

K: I can't do this. I don't like ladders.

Me: Okay.

Keep in mind it's pitch black outside. With no lights on to light this damn fire escape.

You guessed it - barefoot up the metal ladder in the middle of December, move the screen out of the open window (bless you, B & G, for having the heat so damn high), foot in the waste basket after sliding off the chair in front of the window, stagger across the room, open door, go through shared bathroom, hide vodka, fix everything like you'd never been there, and wind up in the living room with semi-frozen feet. The guy showed up about three minutes later to let her in.

Mission accomplished; crisis averted.

Even better was the conversation we had while randomly watching an episode of 30 Rock we found on Comedy Central.

T: So, gin and tonic is just gin and tonic, right?

Pretty sure my housemates have made my senior year so far. I couldn't ask to live with a better group of girls (and three guys) than I currently do. They keep me smiling through the week.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz