Drag dolls and 400 words on manslaughter

When I was a freshman in high school, I learned about the Myers-Briggs personality test and was instantly obsessed. If you don’t know what that is, just know that ISTJs are the cornerstones of society and ENFPs are like perpetual younger siblings who think the world will just ‘work out’ without realizing the order and structure provided thanklessly (THANKLESSLY) by their more concrete-thinking, responsible counterparts (i’m summarizing here). Anyway, I got so into this stuff that I kept a private journal where I documented various things my friends said or did and tried to predict what personality type they were.

Real serial killer-y, right?

Well, this is kind of like that. Because it turns out, every time I stumble onto something cool, a switch flips in my brain and I take that idea and I run with it until it becomes almost unrecognizable and, frankly, just plain creepy and concerning.

So I should’ve known what was going to happen when I first knit Kota-chan and my Instagram went damn daniel level viral (back at it again with the BOMB ASS KNITS) and @masculiknity got, like, ten followers in a single day. But there I was, knitting a second doll, and all of a sudden duplicate stitching a naughty sweetheart neckline and powder pink blush and sewing on a red moppy up-do (and girl you know i glued her lace fronts). And before I knew it I looked down and, lo and shehold, I was holding onto just about the prettiest bow-legged queen this side of the South Platte River.

I wen too far, right? I know.

But then I was like, hey, what about a lanky cat in shorts?

I honestly have no justification for this. There was no goal or inspiration. I think I was running on autopilot at this point and blacked out while stitching a heart on the chest and my family name, 周, as a low back tattoo.

Before I could knit a fourth doll (the self-control this took was ungodly), I shipped this dysfunctional trio to my nephew, who’s real big into the doll scene right now (also eating sand). I figure, in twenty years, rather than having a pair of booties or a tiny cardigan from his wildly successful uncle, he’d much rather prefer to look back at a childhood with Madeline Tush and Gal Abrigo (lorna lace, debbie bliss, ella rae omg why are all yarn brands amazing drag queen names), surrounded by plush-sized buddies who show him it’s okay to be strange or different or, if he so desires, a fierce, tutu-touting ballerinx with half-inch arms.

Quick life update: Three of my pieces got rejected by three separate magazines (vanity fair was like ew what is this no). But then I submitted an essay to an academic story-writing contest on high-value care and it was selected to be read at a conference next month! Not exactly the medium I was expecting, but an honor nonetheless.

Read below for my high-value care experience:

400 Words on Manslaughter

A boy came into the ED on my first nightshift. He was eighteen, black, brought in by ambulance after hitting a Prius going seventy in a residential neighborhood, killing an older man and his wife. Medically, he was uninteresting. No aches, pains, scratches. We offered Tylenol, but he refused.

He didn’t say much, eyes wide open in shock. When his mother arrived, she cried so loudly it made us jump from the other side of the trauma bay doors. The two of them occupied their own world, mourning a future lost together, but the night rippled outwards, too, to family and friends—residents and attendings—anyone close enough to feel the sudden absence of a life. Later the police arrived, ready to take him away, this boy who lost everything at seventy miles per hour and now sat in our care, wanting nothing but for things to move a little bit slower.

Hours later, the police were still there, pacing outside his room, picking at their empty handcuffs. My attending was holding him for observation until morning (“Just in case,” she said. “He may need something later.” I thought I saw a wink.). I peeked into his room. The lights were off. They were in bed together, his head on his mother’s shoulder while she stroked his hair. She wasn’t crying anymore, but his eyes were still wide, adjusting to how things looked in the dark.

It was hard for me to look away, struck at how the lives of our patients begin before presentation and persist well after discharge—sometimes in handcuffs—and how moments of tragedy occur irrespective of us, though every so often we are close enough that their cries make us jump. And even faced with the picture of health, there are choices to be made, value to be found in the small and quiet. Someone told me this once, but our work is never done.

What my attending provided was minuscule—inconsequential, even, legally speaking—but I haven’t seen a more powerful act of compassion, a decision as thoughtful for someone so vulnerable. Some may argue about wasted costs, a misuse of resources, but I’m convinced that time is not equal everywhere, that eight hours can be a lifetime depending on what’s waiting on the other side. For my patient, just a boy, I can only hope that night afforded him at least that much.


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