Oxycontin

We care so much about the start that when we get to the ending we aren’t ready. And sometimes the wave arrives with no warning and the ride has already begun.

 

I had just left Lincoln. Where I just saw my estranged grandmother. She was in the hospital for knee surgery. And she had no idea that I would pay her a visit, rightly so because I have only seen her twice in my life.

 

We spoke of my life, shared her pictures of my lady. She was very happy. I parted to head back to my home in Laramie, which was 7 hours away. It would take another week, a plane flight and 26 lbs of flesh till I would get there.

 

In nowhere Nebraska, I felt the first of many pains that would come to cloud my judgement. Driving on I-70 a sharp constricting pain came from my gut. It ebbed away. Then a time later it returned. The pain intensified and the intervals in between grew short. This eye lid clenching pain was a challenge while driving to the Denver airport, where I would pick my girlfriend up.

 

I now I find myself in the bathroom next to an empty waiting room of an emergency room. The heat of the constricting pain made me sweat. With no shirt on I heaved mucous into the toilet while I pressed with all of my might on that burning spot.

 

Now, I am lying in an emergency room infirmary bed knowing that I was closer, but far from relief. Doctor Brown came in and ordered an x-ray to determine what was the fuss about.

 

It had appeared my large colon was twisted onto itself. I needed emergency abdominal surgery. And a transfer to a hospital was in order. The EM to my right filled the ambulance with small talk.  But I wanted this moment to myself. The setting sun made the clouds golden against the dark eastern sky. It was beautiful to me in this moment of uncertainty.

 

Between the transfer this sharp constricting pain subsided. Meeting with the surgeon we decided to wait till the morning. Then as the sun rose again the pain returned. Dr. Ferrigno came in and I shook her hand saying, “let’s do this.”

 

I awoke with 29 stables through the middle of my gut, with more sutures below the skin. I was happy not have a colostomy bag!  The trip was not over. There was a new pain. A pain I could not run from. The slow distention of my gut inflamed from dissection and constipation. It looked like the staples could be deadly to anyone in the room.

 

A slow hard pain that narrows your thoughts. The inflammation filled me. My breath, my breath, it was taken from me. Only short shallow ones I could manage. The slope was slippery with the prospect of pneumonia and secondary surgery – to relive the buildup of gas.

 

With  my harden gut, I got a walker. My lady Ivy, pulling the IV, I took steps with the breadth and pace of a man 60 years my senior. How feeble I am.

 

The movement didn’t work. The ever-present distension was unbearable. The gas from my innards was working itself the opposite way. I became very nausea. And wrenching up what fluids I had pulled so grossly at my newly sewn seams.

 

The nausea subsided. My seams did not tear, but they felt like it. I laid down with my mouth filled with this white stuff called thrush. I felt the waves batter me with no way-out. I let them crash over me.

 

I got up to walk once more. To get the distention to subside, I did not want them to operate on me again. This drowning restriction of breath was not going away.

 

Why was it not working!?!

 

My lady turned to me to tell me to relax. She played meditation music. I sat breathing and with these walls of pain, I was able, still, to relax.

 

I must say Ivy and I have never been this happy for me to fart! Though with these new movements of my bowels came the sharpest of constricting pains! They would halt me on my walks – as if there were some gremlin with a wrench cranking away! But these were signs of improvement. I was happy to pay this fare as my organs came back online.

 

Speaking of which, the first large movement yielded an alarming amount of blood into the toilet!! And I had just taken a pill of Oxycontin. (I only took pain medication to sleep.) With this event I fell asleep.

 

A teenage skater stood before me, two others stood to his right. A hammer struck his forehead. The skin ripped, blood poured, and the boy fell into the river. I rushed to pull him out. The current was so strong, and his flesh was quickly rotting. His orbitals bones began to show.

 

I let the river take him.

 

I was discharged three days later. Filling my prescriptions, I choose not to fill the Oxycontin one. ‘I do not want it.’ The pharmacist rebuked, “ no one says that.”

 

With my stool softener and ibuprofen, I left the hospital. But I wouldn’t be getting home by road. A May snowstorm had just come through and closed the roads north. There was no way to Laramie.

 

I was by myself and 26 lbs lighter. (Ivy was in Laramie; she had left 3 days prior for work.) I wanted to go home.

 

I took a 20 minute flight from Denver to Laramie over this storm.

 

I was home.

 

 

I am Still Here!

I doth drove-ith me beloved steel steed, Volvo, across this beautiful country to my current lodgings in Wyoming. Within a proximity of one hour to Denver airport, where I was-ith to retrieve my fair lady, Lucifer himself – with such ferocity – smote with true aim at mine own innards . The pain that ebbed within would intensify, which begot me to the emergency room in Colorado. With haste we would learnt that a Cecal Volvulus is what ailed me. Nay, this was no Beelzebub conjured up by a Warlock. Twas simply my large colon twisted onto itself, causing life threatening conditions, for the twisted part would become so necrotic not even a Necromancer could resurrect me for I would be ravaged by fever till my soul would be a part of this world no more. But Providence herself bless-ed me in the form of steady hands! Steady hands of the surgeon Dr. Ferrigno!! She tamed the beast of death by removing 2 feet of organ. Do not fret for God bless-ed me with redundant colon.

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Rejoice! For this test of whits, courage and friendship happened a year and three days ago!

 

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Sheep Mountain, Wyoming

 

 

“All broken, battered and scarred,
Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.” -R.S.

 

Marcus

Desire and Reason.

Live with these things! And Learn their goodness.

An animal is a slave to its desires. And a coward will never know the torrent of the wave.

Persuasion is an act of life. And Beauty lies within willful choice.

The Arbitrator needs her muse. And angelic she will become.

These together will push us to shores unknown.

Fulbright

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The greatest strength of the Fulbright program is not in its ability to award grants, but in the citizen’s ability to reach for a better world. The effect for which I speak is not limited to those whom have been awarded grants, but also for the ones that have tried.

There once was a dream started by the greatest generation. This dream was for a free world. Where national barriers were just imaginary lines; where trade and ideas knew now bounds. But now we are turning inward, forgetting to ever look up and wonder. We are losing sight on helping our fellow man. The strength of America lies in our ability to unlock the human potential. The potential to right the wrongs of tyranny and oppression. Our passion has driven creativity for a brighter world. We are the burning light that has shown the way for the meek, but we are flickering in our squabble for entitlement.  The resolve of Senator Fulbright’s vision is still relevant in our world today. We desperately need to keep our eyes on the horizon. If we build walls and shut ourselves in, liberty will wither.

We must protect this liberty of student exchange.

As a constituent and a friend of the Fulbright Program, I urge you to Stand for Fulbright. The proposed 52% budget cut to the Department of State’s exchange programs for Fiscal Year 2018 would result in a 47% cut to the Fulbright Program.

 

I believe in the mission of the Fulbright Program, and I stand in support of its contributions to:

 

– American Leadership. Fulbright is the most respected and comprehensive exchange program in the world. The scholarship has produced 130,000 American and 240,000 international alumni: leaders in every field, in 165 countries. This includes 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 57 Nobel Prize laureates.

 

– National Security. Fulbright participants have built wide networks of friends at low cost, anchoring U.S. national security in a global community of trust, understanding, and hope. Global alumni include 37 current and former heads of state or government who know and support the United States.

 

– Local Economies. Returning Fulbright Scholars bring expertise, innovation, and global connections to economies all over the United States. Visiting international scholars spend their grants locally, putting millions of dollars directly into American communities.

 

– International Alliances. The Fulbright Program promotes cooperation with 165 countries, 49 of which have long-standing commissions that match or exceed U.S. funding with their own contributions, totaling $110 million annually. Fulbright’s reputation is an anchor to many bilateral relations, promoting education, business development, and leadership.

 

– U.S. Higher Education. Thousands of American universities and colleges benefit from the Fulbright Program. Over 1,200 higher education institutions participate in the Fulbright Program. Faculty members and students conduct research and teach worldwide and visiting scholars provide expertise and tuition dollars.

 

Cutting funding for the Fulbright Program would do great harm to America’s security, economy, and educational system.

Will you stand with me and oppose cuts to the Fulbright program?

(You may use this story as a template for a letter to your congressman or representative as they have the final say on the fiscal budget. If you are feeling like a zealot you can call your congresswoman and representative.)

Use this link to sign the Fulbright Petition.

http://cqrcengage.com/fulbright/home?0

For a personal story that the Fulbright Program funded click here.

 

A letter about the American Spirit

Office of the President

1000 E. University Avenue Dept. 3434 ,

Laramie, Wyoming 82071

 

President Laurie Nichols,

We, the undersigned international students and scholars of the University of Wyoming, are writing to you to express our deepest concerns about the latest executive order of President Trump that has affected citizens of the following seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

First and foremost we would like to express our gratitude for the invaluable opportunity that we have been given to study and work at UW. We may have come to UW as an educational institution at first, but UW is now beyond a university to us; UW is our home. We are grateful for the immense support that we have received from the International Students and Scholars office (ISS) over the past few days. We would like to acknowledge the President Nichols’ message on Monday, January 30, 2017 addressing the issue and expressing support. This is truly a difficult time for us as our dreams and aspirations are now at stake. We hope your support would continue at this point in time, more than before.

Last Friday’s executive order has provoked uncertainty and anxiety among many of us in this university and individuals at other institutions across the nation. The international students and scholars from these seven countries have already gone through the long and complicated visa vetting process to gain entry and study in the United States. Many of us have been living here for years away from our loved ones in the hopes that one day it will all be worth it, and now it seems that all of our hard work, patience, and endurance may have all been for naught.

We came here to add value; in the spirit of what America is. The global hub for ingenuity, innovation, competitiveness, diversity, and freedom. We believe in the fact that America has always been great. Greatness comes from welcoming talents from all across the world. There are countless stories of immigrants that came to the U.S. to start anew and since become scientists, thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs, but most of all, Americans. We feel that this order is an attack upon the pillar of American spirit.

We are sure you have heard and read many stories over the last few days in the news, but we would like to share with you the stories of some of our own students and scholars at the University of Wyoming; so that we may convey how vast and complicated the implications of this executive order has already been.

Arash is a third-year Iranian PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He was supposed to travel to the University of Western Ontario in Canada this upcoming summer to test the wind turbine he has been working on for the past three years. Unfortunately, such a testing facility does not exist in the US. His research is a part of an impactful funding of $4.5 Million to the university; the results of his work can help with increasing the efficiency of wind energy plants across the world. At the moment, he is not sure if he will be able to conduct the required experiments to finish his research. There are many Iranian students working in the mechanical engineering department in the research groups of some of our well-known faculty members such as Professor Jonathan Naughton, Professor Dimitri Mavriplis and Professor Erica Belmont, all of whom bring a vast amount of funding to this institution.

Arsalan earned his PhD in petroleum engineering here at UW, and has been a postdoctoral researcher in PIRI Research Group for nearly three years. This group is one of the most prestigious porous media research centers in the world with tens of millions of dollars in support from the industry and the government of Wyoming. In addition to Arsalan, this group includes the ongoing effort and contributions of 14 Iranians and 1 Sudanese. Arsalan is currently in the middle of renewing his work visa to start working as a lecturer and research associate at the university. His future is drastically affected by the signed presidential order; no work visas are being issued for people from his country-of-origin after Friday. Thus, Arsalan is just one of several people facing problems from this group.

There were also many students who were planning to graduate this semester who are now facing problems. Zeinab is a second-year graduate student of philosophy at UW who had planned on graduating and attending one of the PhD programs she applied to. Now she has been advised to delay her graduation.

Furthermore, while our primary focus has been on the effects of this order on our professional lives, it is also important to recognize the emotional challenges this presents for us as well. One of the students shared his personal and emotional struggles. He told us that he was recently notified that his father is seriously ill. Because of this executive order, he cannot leave the country to see his family in their time of need. He is so worried for their health that it is affecting his studies and quality of life.

There is not enough room here for us to tell the story of every person affected by this situation in the past few days at our university, but we hope that the narrative above paints a clear picture of it all. It seems that many people have been drastically impacted within a matter of days, and we are very concerned about the impacts in the months to come, as well as the uncertainty regarding future policy changes. UW has been an attractive hub for students and scholars from all across the globe. The impact of this order, eventually, can create significant ripples in the economy of this great country and this great state. We are deeply concerned about the implications of this order.

We recognize there has been a lack of clarity with the recent order, and are concerned that the travel ban could potentially be indefinite. However, it is of the utmost importance to receive as much information as possible regarding the

following issues which have not yet been addressed:

  1. Cases in which it is necessary for students to leave the country to conduct research as part of their program of study, and what the expectations are for having to delay such work. 2. Possible limitations imposed on students who would be finishing their studies soon and would need to obtain an OPT status in order to start working after their studies have been completed. 3. Possible issues with extending visas and availability of future support for postdoctoral researchers or faculty members working under H1B and J1 visa. 4. Situations in which students are going to graduate this semester and now cannot change their SEVIS status. 5. Possibility for F1 visa extensions for students who have applied for the National Interest Waiver program in case of denied applications due to the new order.

Madam President, we would like you to take a stance with us; your students, your employees, and your family. To stand by the core academic – and American – values. We would like you to meet with us and hear our stories. To support us by sending a message that clarifies the deep potential consequences of this order. To write a letter to the White House to express your concerns and to condemn this executive order, as many other schools have already done so.

Thank you for your time. We look forward to your response.

Respectfully yours,

 

The Awakening

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Batik Studio, Dukuh Village, Yogyakarta

The awakening of human potential. We beings of thought. We beings of passion. We beings of creation. Now, and since the beginning we have the capacity to peer into the darkness and hope. The smirk that sparks the revolution. We can march to the beat we chose.  We will never again create limits for ourselves, age, children, debt and so on. We worker bees. We visionaries. We united beings for a better today that is what we are. The age of the Entrepreneur is upon us and we are filled with plights for much more than money. We rather die than ignore the beating in our chest. Woe to the darkness for this will be bright. Come now, join hand in hand. We will march and we will sing. For those that have been benighted will no longer be found. Opportunities are abounding and much work is ahead of us. The storm in bleak, but we will forge a new path for others to follow. Unite my brothers and sisters! Let’s toil for each other, let us band together for value does not exists in paper, but within our hearts. Be wild you wild thing! Let your mind guide and your heart drive. Now to arms, not against our fellow man, but to the darkness of fear!

Possibility

Crouched, curled, listing over a computer keyboard I was. It’s actually so old of a laptop it’s almost a typewriter. Well that is how is serves me and this day and age all you need is a screen and internet. Once you are connected to the cloud all of your computing can be done elsewhere. Hurray…. But I don’t care for the said subject for I noticed something before me… this door.

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The scene of this door holds me. Perplexes me. So I took pictures. I even tried to jar it opened, to which a worker asked me – in English because for some reason in Indonesia no one wants to speak Bahasa Indonesia with you and thus you never become proficient at a second language, aahh the horror… –, ‘what are you looking for?’ He inquired.

“The quickest way to the Goblin King.”

Looks of confusion flashed across this gentleman’s face. I wanted him to open the door. I wanted to step through. I wanted to find Dinosaurs. I wanted to fight ninjas and save babies!

Curiosity is such a driver!

Would you literally step through the door?

Would life be too busy for you to be curious or even to notice? Well, here be curious. Step through and see what you want.

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In two weeks’ time I will show you what I found.

The Spark

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Here’s a dream. This dream spins. It twirls in the wind. It is made of plastic and bamboo. It’s a make shift wind wheel! (Hyperbole! I think not. The principles are sound!) This dream made of trash is powered by nuclear energy. Pray tell, how does that happen? Fusion in the core of the sun produces photons, these photons take 100 years to escape the sun. Then a little under 8 minutes to traverse the space between. They heat the surface of a spinning globe to create wind. Put a blade on a pin and face it into the wind. If it spins, you are harnessing fusion energy that was produced 100+ years ago. Wow! Out of this world, right?

But Dreams come and go like the wind, for the faint of heart. We fickle beings easily forget them because life gets too hard.

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Walaybola, Morotai, Indonesia

I happen upon a little girl in a seaport town while prospecting for wind resource in the area. My partners and I sat while some folks graciously cooked us fish. I noticed the little girl some distance away playing with something that resembled a wind turbine. It was almost as if she wanted to show us it. But threw it done in frustration for it failed to spin. The girl disappeared. So I walked over to find the pieces thrown about. I made a slight alteration to the would be turbine blade. i.e. added more twist. I placed it into the ground.

My only hope is that she saw this when she came back. And was inspired so that she be possessed with conviction: the desire to peer into the unknown for others and not turn away. Delusions of grandeur if you will, but big things have crazy beginnings.

(This is my dream, to inspire others to aspire. Thank you little girl for giving me the opportunity.)

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Dreamers are the painters of reality.