Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Conferences and Conventions and INVENTIONS, in Salt Lake and Vegas

This is from a post begun months ago. I could not quite conceive of how to begin to suddenly write about the profession of interpreting on my family blog, out of the bleu. Still family life evolves, and this part is proof of that fact. We have children and they are small for about two nano-seconds. It is much like our fleeting existence overall, floating out here on this planet in this vastness of the universe for maybe an entire heartbeat of time.

As I look for ways to heal the world, I will just keep sharing stories of what unites us and all of our glorious differences from around the world. Some day you will get to read the "tales of a young woman from Sub-Saharan Africa in the US," I have written but dare not yet share.

Life (and colleagues, merci!) have tossed some fascinating travel and work opportunities my way recently: Salt Lake City and Las Vegas both. Below, oui, sometimes work attire means dressed like a tourist.

This is far and yet not far from my normal Midwest venues. True, in-person my work has been closer to where we live, but via video? All around the entire globe, for depositions, conferences, court proceedings, and interviews between humanitarian organizations and their counterparts in towns large and small anywhere. This was merely a next step post-pandemic, as the world is getting back together again.

Last week we had essential oils as the topic du jour, it was aromatic. This week space, robotics, machine learning, AI and ethics. I am learning things I may never have explored without my work. Quantum physics, folks!!!

While we pound into the brains of those sensitive enough to be bothered or those with enough to lose to be defensive the fact that the world is truly going to hell in a hand-basket, there are those actively involved in solutions to critical problems. This last conference gave me a strong hope in the brilliance of humanity's inventiveness, know-how, and the will to solve our current riddles.

This presenter explains that so even this literary type can understand: Shohini Ghose on quantum computing for all here and talking about Marie Curie here.

Tom Oxley, who has found a way for the paraplegic to text straight from their thoughts. This invention helps individuals who may have been contemplating requests to help end their lives because there was no way to meet one of our fundamental human needs; to communicate with each other. It was a privilege to interpret for him. You can hear Dr. Oxley tell the story here in a TED talk.

A well-known and much-loved for his congenial manner and talent for explaining physics as well as the future, in this talk, Michio Kaku gives his take on the future of AI and what jobs will still exist in our brave new world.

Here is a glimpse into what an interpreting booth looks like. It is high-paced action all the time. And those micro-seconds of my children's childhood? Those moments are among the most precious of my entire life, but I have learned to be thankful for each instant as it comes along.

Where else was an interpreter to be found at work in Utah that week? How about a lavender farm, a company's beautiful HQ, or between events behind dog robots in the hallways?

Gala aka dress-up night from the booth. That's the slightly mad look I get whenever I try to take a selfie. You can just get a glimpse of my booth partner's chair next to mine. It is close-quarters. I have been super duper lucky to have had extraordinarily good humans as booth partners every single time; professional, upbeat, fearless in the face of adversity. I have heard tell that this is not always the case. (shark attack music plays...)

There was a six-hour farm stay in 97 degrees and not much to interpret. The tractor was not my idea. We have tractors in Iowa. And they are all green. But my booth partner is a gem and where she goes, I will follow.

Out my hotel room window. I pulled a chair right up to it for those hours of prep listening to speakers and translating terminology. It was not as hard as it looks.

Let us make the most out of that blip we get in history to craft solutions, to be love, to dare to offer what we have to give and then some. Let go of the fear, there is no time for it, nor is there for hesitation, lack of confidence or to be deficient in compassion.


Sunday, October 2, 2022

A Hot Day at the Seaside

Landlocked no more! I am on a beach, sand under my feet, with the water within reach, salt droplets spraying my face once again.

It is unworldly how much is evoked by mention of the ocean; peace, beauty, lulling, raging, tempestuous, murderous, whatever name one gives it. 

I do not believe I gave it any name growing up, except in picture books or when my grandmother returned from visiting my aunts in California or Hawaii. It was mythical, foreign, powerful, it brought to mind images full of vigor and the quiet of tidepools.

And then we met, really met, when I happened up and over the sand dune and was faced with the vision of such vastness and roaring, beautiful, ordered chaos. The waves, wild and dangerous, nonetheless obey laws of moon, land, and season.

The very way the surf dances and plays invites intrepid humans to do the same on board, boat or on the power of their own strength.

Any time I can, I return.

I do not get author Bill Bryson at all. We are both from Iowa, true, but he claims he cannot fathom a fascination with a large body of water full of salt one arrives at via a long and sandy path. He grew up without it and never missed it, as do millions and millions. I grew up without it and mourn this impoverished childhood. 

I do not live on a coast, the reasons would fill an entire tome, and yet, the call remains in my heart. The gentle lapping on the shore or the bellow of a boisterous sea are music to my forlorn ears, the salt in the air a delicate bouquet to my land-locked nostrils.

G. and I began our stay with a few days on the Atlantic coast to make sure we were not bringing covid with us when we went to visit anyone older and more vulnerable. It was a hot, hot time and the lodgings were filled with hungry mosquitos, but the beach was a stone's throw from the house, as were cafés, bakeries, pizza trucks and a tiny grocery store filled with all one could need...and more. We spent the day in the waves and ate pizzas, bread, paté and cheese at night.

We did it all over again with a cousin a couple weeks later. This time I was able to stay under the beach umbrella a little more, frying a little less. Sunscreen only goes so far, especially when the next round of it has to be mixed with sand.  I had my knitting, done while keeping both eyes on the kids, and they had each other to hang out with.

This is one of the places my interpreting profession has led me. I have an obligation to keep up my second language. Why not on a beach in France? Attention! Vague!

Movement During Surgery Recovery and EDS: Chapter Two: Why We Did It/Skin Care/What to Wear with a Cast on Your Arm

"We" includes a team; the one with the condition or injury, the ones suffering because of the injury (affected and affected's family), the health care professionals: primary doctor, alternative medicine doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, surgeon, physician's assistant, and all of the other doctors and orthopedic specialists I consulted in the past. It's really a little embarrassing to think about. 

As someone who has a condition making every joint hypermobile, but who lived almost my entire life not knowing it was the cause of most physical problems I've ever had, the realization is still dawning on me bit by bit. This too??? The intention is not to whine, but to increase awareness of what people with EDS or on the hypermobile spectrum might also be experiencing. I see you.

-Over-extending elbows and ability to do the splits.

-Constantly sprained ankles and back pain that left me "stuck" often. (Both of these are much improved, hormonal shifts? Better exercise routine? Less sugar?)

-Sciatica pain- can still happen.

-Ends of pregnancy where walking became almost impossible from hip and groin agony.

-Knee flare-ups.

-Arthritis developing in highly inconvenient places like feet and thumbs.

-And, the worst part of all, knowing that I might have passed along these genes to my children. Should I have listened to the voice calling me to the convent after all? Life is far to short for regrets, but honestly!

In light of this, the decision to go in, break open and hopefully take care of one of these body parts seems almost ludicrous. But here's the thing...age is creeping towards us all the time, and how we want to spend that period of our lives is a decision we all have to make. I want to type and knit. I want to garden and ice-skate and ski.

I want to drive around the Midwest to interpreting assignments or along the highways of the world out exploring, climbing mountains, and leaping into waves. I want to weight-train to avoid further degeneration of my bone density. 

                And a working hand is key to all of that. 

As far as the feet are concerned, I can always wear old-lady  "comfortable, sturdy shoes," but for hand and wrist even the best support gloves have proven to have their limits, and braces have made things worse. (We have a whole Bag of Braces for different body parts we keep handy, along with walking boots and bath bags for casted bits.) 

When even the occupational therapist voiced the opinion that maybe surgery was a good option for me, after injections and therapy and regular exercises had failed, I made the final pre-surgery appointment to review my options with the hand specialist. After my initial visit, I had been leery of her decision  to recommend fusion. But after the follow-up MRI, conducted to explore what seemed to be cysts along my wrist, her choice of treatment was modified to joint replacement (because the imaging revealed more damage from arthritis than had originally shown up on an x-ray) and a mini-tight wire reinforcement, due to the added potential the EDS adds for joint laxity becoming problematic for the joints further up the chain of command. For some weird reason, this reassured me. "Fusion" sounded permanent, stiff, and final. Replacement sounds sustainable, workable, with a higher rate of mobility down the line. AND SHE LISTENED TO MY CONCERNS ABOUT THE HYPERMOBILITY/EDS. This, dear doctors, will do more for your scores on than any treatment, no matter how successful. 

Now for the wardrobe...left to my own devices early yesterday morning, I dolefully grumbled to friends that I looked like a bag lady, and wondered if this was how it all started for some of their ranks? 


You go home alone with an arm in a cast and find; you can't do your hair, so you pop on a hat that half covers the disheveled tangle. There is no one to hook your bra so a second layer is a must, but none of your sweaters will go over your cast, so it's a poncho on top of whatever sleeveless shirt you can scrounge up, and your yoga pants are in the laundry. so a skirt with an elastic waist band is the only other thing that  is not pyjama bottoms in your closet. Show up at work often enough in this get-up and you're likely to lose confidence and your job along with it and then you're left with...those very same clothes on your back.*

Responses from two friends;

(Zero commiseration, you will note, the hallmark of someone who knows you too well and is not taking your grousing for one second.)

-Embrace your inner Stevie Nicks.

-I happen to love the babushka vibe.

-I'm with E. Your inner French woman needs to learn how to let it hang.

Thanks, folks. That's friendship for you. Always moving you forward...or something. I mean, did you see the sorrow in that face? Not a single whoop given.

And then I got up this morning and decided I will have to find a way to make the closet full of perfectly nice items I have work for the next few weeks. Work is going to be a challenge, but that was also true when I went from semi-hippy-homeschool-mama to work with no transition. I used to justify every slightly insane outfit with, "It could be a French style, they will just think I am French." 

Here was today's Sunday "fit", as the kids say. In which I embrace not only Bohemia but the Japanese girl with skirt and socks look I've always admired but never imitated. I still don't see walking into court in this one, but I've decided to be happy. And that extends to the length of time it will take to fully heal and get this hand working again. And it also includes messy kitchens and bathrooms and clients who arrive an hour late. I am happy.

* I must add a note of gratitude for this beautiful skirt brought back for me by a friend from India and the equally scrumptious warm poncho my sister gave me for Christmas, I love both, but I was in a mood.


Day 13 Progress and Movement Report:

Not much to report. I eased up on the amount of stretching I do, because the weight of the cast/splint (I guess I'll know tomorrow when it is removed) seemed to cause more pain and I was not sure it wouldn't pull too much on the joint in doing thirty minutes at a time.

We go for a walk every day and I putz around out in the garden in my flowers. I fetch my own things up and down the stairs and keep it raised much of the time. There is some discomfort, but it is not terrible.

My old nemesis, eczema has made a come-back, summoned no doubt partially from my belief that if I ever needed a cast for anything it would surely be a problem. My self-talk has been crazy positive, but alas, it has made my hand a crone's claw. Skin fragility is a big problem/main symptom of EDS.

Hey, speaking of crones, it is almost Halloween or Samhain. I wonder if I could pretend I got the date wrong and show up every day in skirt, shawl and pointy hat? I might start a trend among the legal profession. Actually, if I am in a splint for four more weeks beginning tomorrow, that will be day for day October 31. I would be seasonal. Or delusional. 

What have others come up with for both skin care for fragile skin in a splint or cast and outfits when you can neither pull up panty hose nor tug, zip and button pants? 

And for movement while healing; please send your favorite gentle activities and ways to move in any way while putting along until full speed becomes a reality once more. I know it will, but having patience is another story.

Please share in comments.