Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ave Verum Corpus, Brother Jerome

Oh my goodness he was a big guy. I shouldn't have been surprised because the St. Vincent brothers had a reputation for savoring life's many good things. Brother Jerome was nothing if not well-fed... and also very good-natured. I could hyphenate a thousand positive adverbs and adjectives yet still not have said but a fraction of the nice things that could you could say about that jolly man.

I was a nurse aide back then, working on a 40-bed(!) medical-surgical unit in an upstate New York community. I still have friends in that town. I visited there last year to hear some music, too. Garrick Ohlsson playing the Rach Three with the Phillies. Awefreakingsome. Anyway, St. Vincent's was a local retirement facility maintained by that church. It was a rest-home for elderly brothers and priests. Once in a while one of the brethren might get sick enough to be admitted to us for a bit.

"Are you a Catholic child?" asked Brother Jerome one morning as I was nurse-aiding him with something.

"Actually no," I said with a smile, then added, "Why? Do I look Catholic?!" (I have a naturally distinctive type of hair not associated with Catholicism, let us say.)

He smiled back but continued. "Do you pray? Would you pray with me?"

"Brother Jerome, every breath I take is a prayer," I replied. He beamed. He was delighted. He didn't give a fuck what my religion was, nor even if I had one. He just wanted to know if there was anybody around who was familiar with some of the literature. It was a great way to start the day.

I firmly believe that a therapeutic nurse-patient relationship is of considerable importance. Without that not much can be done. For example, if your patient is a drug-seeking psychopath with no conscience at all then you as a nurse will never be able to establish such an arrangement. Unpossible. Don't even bother trying. Be prepared for a shift of games.


The evilist most deadlieristical molecularational stuffy-stuff ever:

Do NOT be fooled by the innocent appearance!

Yeah, it's a killer alright. No. Not really. Not at all.

I was outside one of the many "clubs" that have sprung up in the wake of Proposition 203. This one is right down the street from the hospital. There's also an evaluation clinic across the street from the hospital campus. They usually feature a doctor who will, for a mere $150, fill out the forms necessary for you to obtain the State-issued card identifying you as a medical user. So... out of the club putters an old man with the most severe neck stoop I've ever seen. Though walking upright his neck was near-parallel to the ground even with his soft neck-brace in place.

"Excuse me sir," I said as I approached him, maintaining the appropriate distance out-of-doors. "I'd like to ask you a few questions if that's okay. I'm a blogger and I've been interviewing medical marijuana cardholders and anonymously writing about them. For a book maybe."

He turned his head like a turtle, smiled, and said "Fine!"

"Well first off, what is your condition and how did you aquire it?" I started out.

"I read the Torah for forty years."

I was puzzled. I am sure he meant to play me a little, and it was fun. He wasn't cat-and-mousing me. He was making me think.

"You stooped over the pages all day long for decades and decades," I said.

"Yes," he replied, "Indeed."

"So how does medical cannabis help you?" I asked.

"Oh, it's not for me," he went on, "I'm a caregiver. I don't have a user card. This is for the Hospice where I volunteer."

He's like about 90 years old, bent over sideways, walks with a cane while looking straight down at the ground, he volunteers at a Hospice and not only that, he gets them their medical marijuana.

Awe. Some.


"Don't you know
In this new Dark Age

Andy Partridge and his uber-pal Colin Moulding, often accompanied by many other swell people.

Drop whatever you're doing RIGHT NOW and go purchase as much XTC music as you possibly can. Every one of their collections has several songs that you would consider to be The Best In The World and the others aren't just filler. They just take a few listens to get your ears around them.


My conversation with the elderly man outside the club continued:

"So, do you take a cut?" I ventured. I couldn't believe I was so bold, but he had that New Yorker thing about him and I knew he could more than handle himself.

"You mean am I dealer?" he asked. I was expecting a question in response to mine. That "the city" thing. It's pretty cool. I dig it totally. They call it "the city." And that it is. The greatest city the world has ever seen.

"Oh, I don't know if that's quite my first choice of a word," I said. "But..." I trailed off.

"No, I don't take a percentage. Many people do. They are dealers. Me? I'm just a mule."

"A mule!" I laughed. He gave out a little "heh." We exchanged cheerful "shaloms."


Another person exited the club, a woman some pounds overweight by corporate standards but nonetheless pretty. I smiled and with my body language indicated that I'd like to approach. She smiled back so I did. I explained to her that I was interviewing medical cannabis users and added that I'd like her permission to ask her a few questions on the record, though anonymously. She agreed.

"What is your condition and how did you get it?" I started the usual way.

"It's for my PERIOD!" she replied. Kinda over-the-top I thought.

"How does medical cannabis help you?" I asked.

"None of your damn business!" she hurled back at me.

Oh well then, I thought. Perhaps I should not have been taking up her time.

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