Solar Flares

Sun flare photo by jparadisiI am a nurse. I believe full moons have influence over hospitals.  I also believe in the electromagnetic power of solar flares. Last week, hospital staffs in the Northern hemisphere had the joy of exposure to both. While I can’t speak for healthcare providers as a whole, I experienced a few incidents last week, which I attribute to solar flares.

First, I noticed communication glitches in communication David and I. Since communication is a core strength of our marriage, it was weird. Standing in the same room, conversations went something like this:

Me: “Hmm. We’re out of butter, let’s put it on the grocery list.”

David: Silent.

Me: “David, did you hear me say we’re out of butter?”

More silence. Half an hour later…

David: “We’re out of butter.”

Me: “I know, didn’t you hear me say that half an hour ago?”

David: “What? Oh, you better put butter on the grocery list.”

Me: “Can you hear me when I’m speaking to you?”

David: “Are you saying we don’t need butter?”

At the infusion clinic, a nurse complained people were not receiving her messages.  Another nurse looked up and said “Solar flares.” The first nurse said, “Weird, you are the second person to say ‘solar flares’ to me today. Solar flares?”

“Yep. There’s a solar storm headed towards Earth this week. It’s all over the news.”

“Really, I hadn’t heard.”

That was Thursday.

On Friday, we lost login ability to the electronic health record, once logged out, therefore access to patients’ charts.  All the records were secure and intact, we simply couldn’t access them for a short, but inconvenient time. Our fabulous IT team fixed the problem reasonably quick. We weren’t informed what happened, but I blame solar flares.

On Sunday, our car’s GPS system acted up, eventually righting itself. Solar flares.

I wish everything in life were so easily diagnosed.

Do you have a good solar flare or full moon story to tell?

Comfortable with the Squishy Part II: Look, Look with Your Special Eyes

The White that Binds (Pinning Ceremony) by jparadisi 2010 mixed media & collage

I’ve read a lot about eyes, seeing, and looking lately.

Eye doctors are concerned about a fashion trend among young women called circle lenses. These non-prescription contact lenses create a large, round eye effect, making the woman look like a doll or cartoon character. Illegal in the United States, they are easily purchased on the internet from other countries, where no studies or quality checks are conducted to determine the safety of the lenses. A lack of scientific research proving whether or not circle lenses are safe seems not to concern these women. They are comfortable with the squishy.

As an artist making paintings about identity, I’m interested in the choices people make. I was a child during the consciousness-raising of the Feminist Movement, when women rebelled against a society that saw us as dolls or cartoon characters with biologically limited abilities.Nursing rebels against the depiction of nurses as angels, bitches, and handmaidens (excellent post by Barbara Glickstein, MPH, MS, RN for Off the Charts). Accepting these characterizations creates problems about role and identity for nurses of both genders.

Can nursing make advances in the media depiction of our profession if women pursue trends reinforcing the idea we are dolls and cartoon characters? When women choose fashion over their health and safety, can nursing’s demand for safe work environments be successful? Is there a connection between the two? Do mixed messages create roadblocks?

I don’t know the answers to these questions and that is why I explore them through art. Without scientific facts to turn to, I have to be comfortable with the squishy.

Comfortable with the Squishy: Part I

I need to make an appointment for an eye exam. I suspect I need a new prescription. So of course, this wonderful old poem by Lisel Mueller comes to  mind.

When Leonardo and Michelangelo walked the earth, artists and scientists were the same people.  The barbers who cut your hair and shaved your beard were also surgeons. At some point, everyone divided up into separate camps. Medicine is the considered hard science. Art is squishy. Sometimes squishy makes a lot of sense.

Monet Refuses the Operation

by Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no haloes

around the streetlights in Paris

and what I see is an aberration

caused by old age, an affliction.

I tell you it has taken me all my life

to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,

to soften and blur and finally banish

the edges you regret I don’t see,

to learn that the line I called the horizon

does not exist and sky and water,

so long apart, are the same state of being.

Fifty-four years before I could see

Rouen cathedral is built

of parallel shafts of sun,

and now you want to restore

my youthful errors: fixed

notions of top and bottom,

the illusion of three-dimensional space,

wisteria separate

from the bridge it covers.

What can I say to convince you

the Houses of Parliament dissolves

night after night to become

the fluid dream of the Thames?

I will not return to a universe

of objects that don’t know each other,

as if islands were not the lost children

of one great continent. The world

is flux, and light becomes what it touches,

becomes water, lilies on water,

above and below water,

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow

and white and cerulean lamps,

small fists passing sunlight

so quickly to one another

that it would take long, streaming hair

inside my brush to catch it.

To paint the speed of light!

Our weighted shapes, these verticals,

burn to mix with air

and change our bones, skin, clothes

to gases. Doctor,

if only you could see

how heaven pulls earth into its arms

and how infinitely the heart expands

to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

Beautiful Hand Grenades

   I love this essay  by Donald G. McNeil posted online June 14, 2010 in the New York Times. McNeil writes about artist Luke Jerram’s renditions of killer viruses in glass. The sculptures are on display at Heller Gallery in New York.

     McNeil, who describes himself as “someone covering infectious disease” ponders whether it is the presentation of killer viruses as objects of beauty or the $10,000 price tag of each sculpture that he finds offensive. He coins the phrase, “beautiful hand grenades” to describe them.

     As a nurse, I follow his line of thought. As an artist, I feel he missed the point. Either way, it is good publicity for Mr. Jerram.

     Check the slide show on the NYT website, and see for yourself.