Friday, February 27, 2015

RIP, Spock

Today, Feb 27, 2015, the actor Leonard Nimoy passed away, at age 83. And I cried when I heard about it. Now, I'm not one to worship celebrities, but Star Trek - and Spock - played a very important role in my childhood, in my entire life, really. I first saw Star Trek when it came on TV in 1966. I was immediately swept away by the show, and by the aloof, yet somehow vulnerable, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock. I fell madly in love with him (as only a 9 year-old can), and I've loved him ever since. I loved him for his battle over his emotions; I loved him for his devotion and loyalty; I loved him for his pursuit of science; I loved him for his pursuit of non-violence. I loved his Vulcan half the most - this alien presence, product of an ancient and noble society, inside a part human body, warring for his soul. Nimoy's portrayal of this battle was so nuanced and so believable. You could feel his struggle during the time of pon farr in the episode "Amok Time." And we all kind of rejoiced when, at the end of the episode, upon discovering he hadn't killed his captain and his friend, Spock breaks into a huge grin and practically hugs Kirk. Many actors have portrayed Vulcans in the various Star Trek series and in the movies, but very few were able to portray the apparent lack of emotion without also seeming wooden. (Mark Leonard, who played Spock's father, was one exception, as is Zachary Quinto's portrayal in the reboot movies.)

So, how does a 9 year-old show her love of this weird TV character? By 'playing' Star Trek, of course! My best friend, Brenda Osborne, and I would spend hours reenacting the episodes, or creating our own situations to portray. Fortunately, Brenda was in love with Kirk, so there was no conflict as to who would play the two characters! By the 70's, there were books about the series being published, and we read and reread those, absorbing all the behind-the-scenes tidbits. We really felt we knew these actor, and therein, the characters. (Sadly, we lost Brenda almost 4 years ago - I hope she is getting to meet Mr. Nimoy in heaven! ;-)

Thanks to reruns, fans never had to go without seeing Star Trek for very long. Any time the show came on, I was in front of the TV. I knew the names of all the episodes, and what happened in each, after so many repeat viewings. You didn't dare go against me in a game of Star Trek trivia! And Spock and Vulcan were my true areas of expertise. Once the Star Trek books started being published, I bought them all and devoured those, as well. And then the movies started being produced - what rapturous joy! The director's cut of the first movie, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" has some great scenes about Spock trying to finally come to grips with his human half and his emotions.

And then of course, we have the second movie, "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" - the movie that crushed my soul! If you don't know the movie, Spock dies - gallantly sacrificing his life for the lives on the Enterprise. Spock's death scene, as he talks with Kirk, is one of the most profound and beautiful in cinema. Of course, I was bawling like a baby through it all! I was afraid I'd never get to see Spock again!! But, naturally, the world of entertainment being what it is, Spock didn't stay dead for long. His rebirth and reeducation process provide some great scenes for his fans.

And then we fans got the amazing bonus of seeing Spock in subsequent Star Trek series, thanks to the longevity of Vulcans. Spock plays an integral role in the detente of the relationship between the Federation and the Romulan Empire. And then we got the double bonus of seeing the Nimoy Spock interacting with the Quinto Spock in the Star Trek reboot movies.

Through all of this (books, TV, movies) Spock was in my life. I knew this person. He felt like a friend. He'd been with me for decades. So that's why the passing of Mr. Nimoy hit me so hard this morning. This time, there will be no earthly resurrection - Spock is not coming back. However, he's not really gone, as long as we remember him (to quote a line from "Wrath of Khan") - and we have hours of video where he still lives, thanks to modern technology. Plus, we have the Star Trek reboot, with Quinto's portrayal of Spock (which is DARN good!), so the character will live. But we have lost an artist, someone who, by all accounts, was a caring, giving person. I mourn the loss of Leonard Nimoy.

In closing, I quote Capt. Kirk, at Spock's funeral in "Wrath of Khan") - "Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most...human."

Appendix - a short list of the essential Spock episodes, movies
Original Series:

  • The Naked Time - a space virus causes Spock to lose his emotional control
  • The Menagerie (two part episode) - Spock apparently mutinies to take his former captain to a forbidden planet
  • Balance of Terror - Spock perseveres in the face of bigotry by one of the crew
  • This Side of Paradise - an alien spore releases Spock's emotional control and he falls in love
  • Amok Time - the time of mating for Vulcans, and Spock really loses control!
  • Journey to Babel - we meet Spock's parents, and Spock has to make a most difficult decision: save Kirk or save the ship
  • A Piece of the Action - Spock tries to master the speech of 1920's gangsters, with humorous results
  • The Enterprise Incident - Spock seduces a female Romulan Commander (hubba hubba!)
  • All Our Yesterdays - Spock travels to the past, and he (once again) loses his emotional control and falls in love
Next Generation

  • Unification (two part series) - Spock is on a "personal mission of peace" to help cool the enmity between the Federation and the Romulan Empire
  • The Wrath of Khan - Spock dies
  • The Search for Spock - Spock is reborn
  • The Voyage Home - Spock continues his reeducation, and has some of his funniest moments
  • Star Trek (2009 reboot) - Nimoy Spock meets Quinto Spock. Priceless!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not Traveling Alone

Last week, I went to the Cleveland Clinic, for appointments with a couple of specialists. They still don't know what is wrong with me, but ordered a bunch more tests, some of which we won't get back for a couple of months - or longer. But that's pretty much what I expected, so I wasn't disappointed. However, that's not really the topic of this post. What I want to talk about is the trip itself, and how God went with me every step of the way. While it appeared that no one was accompanying me on this journey, God was.

On my previous trip to the clinic, my sister (Robin) was able to go with me. While the airlines provide someone to push me in a wheelchair to/from gates, having Robin at the clinic meant she could wheel me around the clinic to appointments, and to restaurants. This time, Robin couldn't go, but I figured it would be ok, since there was a golf cart shuttle that went between the hotel and the clinic (the hotel is on the clinic grounds, and there is a skywalk system connecting everything) and I didn't think I'd have to walk much once I got to the clinic. So, I was prepared - or so I thought.

The trip started early Tuesday morning - I had to get up at 5:00 to be at the airport by 6:00. Check-in was a breeze and I sailed through the security checkpoint. The flight was on time, and we were in the air before 7:30. I had a book with me (of course), but I was still pretty sleepy from the early morning, so I decided to read my morning devotional and listen to some Christian music on my iPod. I opened the day's reading (from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) and these were the opening lines:

I am with you and for you. You face nothing alone - nothing.

Oh my. My heart nearly skipped a beat! I was overwhelmed with how much God loves me and cares about me! I had to just stop, close my eyes and praise God. And then song after song just touched my soul, and spoke reassurance and comfort. I was tearing up pretty good, by now - I have no idea what the woman next to me thought, as I kept wiping my eyes. I spent the entire 2+ hours of the flight basking in the presence of God, feeling his strong arms holding me. We arrived in Minneapolis (where I changed planes) in what seemed to me to be just a few minutes. I was so caught up in God's love. It was an amazing flight!

The connection to Cleveland went off without a hitch, despite a blizzard at Minneapolis. We arrived in Cleveland on time, and I was checked into the hotel by 6:00 EST. From the previous visit, I knew there was a cafe about a block away on the skywalk, so I headed there for dinner, and opted to walk, as I really hadn't had to do any walking all day. Uh-oh. The cafe was closed! I knew there was another cafe in the clinic building, but that was in the total opposite direction. Time for the golf cart! They have phones spaced out along the skywalk, where you can call for a ride. I did so, and got a ride to the clinic building. BUT - there was still a lot of walking to get to the cafe. I had no choice: I needed dinner. So I walked. After finishing my meal, I walked back to the skywalk, and called for the golf-cart. Oops! It's after 7:00pm, no golf cart anymore. So I walked back to the hotel. *sigh*

The next day was my appointment day. My first one was at 10:00, with the neurologist. But I'd need coffee, first, which meant waking up at 8:00am, which feels like 5:00am to my body. Ugh! I took the golf cart, but again, had to walk from the skywalk to the the cafe, and then doctor's office. This was a LONG way. Once I got there, I had to wait to check in. And, silly me, I had neglected to bring my cane that folds into a chair. So I had to stand in line and wait. (For me, standing is even more tiring than walking.)

I got done with the appointment, and the neurologist wanted me to schedule an echo-cardiogram. He said the woman at the checkout desk would do that. So, I went to the checkout desk, and stood, and stood and stood, as the woman was on the phone. I finally whispered to her that I needed to sit down, and took a seat not far away. She was finally able to help me, so I stood and went back to the checkout desk. She called the cardiology department, and discovered that my insurance had not been cleared for the echo-cardiogram. So I had to go down to the Financial Counseling Office and get things approved. More walking. *sigh* Thankfully, there was no line at this office, and a chair right at the desk, and it only took a few minutes to get the approval. But then I had to go back up to neurology, and get the appointments set up. More walking. More standing. Got the appointment for the next day - yay!

But now it was time for lunch, before my next appointment. More walking back to cafe. Standing in line at the cafe. Blissful sitting for lunch. Then more walking to next appointment. Thankfully, this one had a speedy check in, and I was able to immediately sit in the exam room. This appointment was with a geneticist - some of the suspects for my condition have genetic markers, so they wanted a consult with this doctor.

Now it was time for my blood tests. More walking to lab. Speedy check in, again. Got blood removed. Too early for dinner, so once again I walked back to the skywalk, and got the golf-cart to the hotel. I sat in my hotel room, and watched a lovely blizzard. (Lovely to me, at least, I didn't have to commute home in it!) Finally, I decided I'd better get to dinner before it was too late, and headed back to the cafe in the clinic. Golf cart to the clinic, but walking to the cafe. I'm getting very, very tired by this point. And, silly me, didn't pay attention to the time while I was eating (blame the book - here's my review) and it was after 7:00 by the time I noticed, so I had to trudge all the way back to the hotel.

I was exhausted by now, but had to get up for another 10:00am appointment for the echo-cardiogram. And I'd need time for coffee, first, of course, so this was another 8:00am wake up (aka 5:00am) - double ugh! Same drill as before: golf cart to clinic, walk to cafe, walk to cardiology department (even further than the neurology department.) This time, I remembered my cane, which I really needed! Thankfully, it was a quick check in here. Got the echo done, and had the followup consultation with the cardiologist.  (My heart is fine, by the way.) The cardiologist also wanted a full EKG, however, so I had to get that scheduled for later in the day. So, I slowly trudged back to the cafe. Ate lunch. Even more slowly dragged myself back to the cardiology department - only to find that the EKG was done at another place, much closer to the cafe, back the way I had just come! Slogged, step by slow step, back to the right place for EKG. Got that done in a jiffy. Again, it's too early for dinner, but I learned my lesson from the previous day, so I just found a nook and read until dinner time. Then made sure I got done in time to catch the golf cart back to the hotel. But I still had to walk to the skywalk. I am literally dragging my right leg, now, as I walk like a 90-year-old, shuffling, leaning on my cane. But I made it back to the hotel and flopped into bed. One more early morning to catch plane!

The flight home was uneventful. Arrived home on time, and Randy was waiting for me in the lobby. Joy!!

One more item to wrap things up: Saturday morning (after sleeping 11 hours), I opened Jesus Calling for the day's devotional, and read this:

Come to me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary.

Again, I was stunned by how much God loves me and cares for me and knows what I'm going through. Had a little teary moment. Smiled. And realized that no, I didn't make the trip alone. God was with me, and he is still with me, on the bigger journey of life. And I am grateful beyond words for his love and his care and his strength.

**A little footnote: I think that if I had asked, I could have gotten someone to push me in a wheelchair between appointments. But I didn't ask. I wasn't sure they could get me to/from cafe, too, and wasn't sure who or where to ask. So I wore myself out because I was too embarrassed to ask, I guess. What's up with that?? If there is a next time, I will ask!