Sworn to Secrecy. And Nachos

My three faithful followers may have noticed that I’ve been radio silent for a while now. Much has happened and I have many stories to share… only I can’t. I am now ruled by the dark overlord known as HIPAA. This overlord commands the manor known as “Ye olde Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act”. You may be wondering when did the troutdog become an insurance salesman? Or, you may be thinking about cleaning the grout in your shower.

Some time ago I began working at a metropolitan hospital, St. Bacon of Barbecueous. This change of employment is related to a midlife crisis and one late night of too much tequila and poorly cooked fish tacos. Oh, and being accepted into a nursing program. My lawn guy, who’s also an acupuncturist on the side, convinced me that the key to being a good nurse is to, you know, actually work in the healthcare field. Not wanting to dispute such wisdom (the man’s practically a doctor), I went out and got me one of them healthcare jobs.

I have no idea what HIPAA has to do with insurance. What I do know is that I’ve now signed more documents than my last home mortgage – all listing in no uncertain terms that I will be fired, prosecuted, removed from the nursing program, and publicly shamed on Facebook, G+, and Myspace if I ever reveal a single detail of anything I see or hear on my hospital floor. Having no desire to subject anyone to a version of Queen Cersei’s walk of shame, the dude will abide and remain (mostly) mute about what I see. Unless you buy me a beer. Or nachos. I’ll become verbally incontinent for a good plate of nachos.

All this change has made life… complicated. I work nights. I go to school. This means that I pretty much don’t do anything other than work, sleep, study, and eat multiple breakfasts. Coming home from my shift it’s morning, so I eat breakfast. Even though it’s four in the afternoon, what do you eat when you wake up? Breakfast of course. And naturally, what does the hospital cafeteria feature at 2am? Hint, it’s not nachos.

Although I signed an oath (press hard, it’s triplicate) it’s been killing me not to share. There’s too much good stuff that happens on a nightly basis – well, assuming you’re entertained by bodily fluids in frighteningly large amounts and a level of poor personal choices and crazy that I thought only existed in politicians (and Hollywood, but those folks are simply eccentric artists). As Art Mann says, this is TV gold.

We cannot let this dark overlord kill independent troutdog. We will find a way to share. We will dance like a graceful lawyer, pirouetting through the minefields of non-disclosure documents. The troutdog shall not be repressed!

Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The troutdog is  a mythical creature. Comparisons of a popular religions practices of conferring sainthood to a hospital named after pork products was for illustrative and satire purposes only and not intended to offend or incite jihad.


On Art. And Bacon.

Once I came to grips with the fact that I wasn’t going to win American Idol this year, I had to find something else to do with my time.  Lately its been taking pictures.  Or, ‘capturing photographs’ if I want to sound all fancy.  There is an odd side of me that needs to be creative.  It’s a strange feeling since I have almost no artistic ability (except that diorama I made in 3rd grade – 1st place!) and very little knowledge of art.  As the saying goes, “I can’t tell you what art is but I know it when I see it”.  Or was that pornography? I get them confused.

Posting the pictures I take makes me feel somewhat awkward.  On one hand, what’s the point of taking them if nobody ever sees them?  Am I turning into a Kardashian-like creature desperate for attention and trolling for compliments?  On the other hand there are 2.3 billion (approximately) other people out there doing the exact same thing.  And a fair percentage of them are actually creating stuff that’s damn good.  Heck, take a mediocre snapshot with your cellphone, slap an instagram filter on it and you’ll get a bunch of people on Facebook all liking it and commenting “wow, great shot!”.

So why bother publishing pictures to the various social medias du jour?  I’m never going to be an “artist” (I don’t even own Birkenstocks and I’m not a fruitarian).  I’m never going to be a professional photographer.  Other than baby and wedding photos, I’m not even sure it’s an actual occupation anymore.

From a technical perspective I’m at about a 5th grade level in the photography world.  I have visions of real photographers looking at my stuff and saying (always in a heavy French accent) “how cute,  someone found a copy of Photoshop”.

So why do it?  Because I can’t paint.  I can’t draw.  I can’t sing.  I can’t carve wooden bear statues or ice swans with a chainsaw.  Sometimes I see an image in my head and taking a picture is the only hope I have of getting it out.  Most of the time they don’t match what I was thinking.  But every once in a while… it feels like you get one right.  And if just one person out there sees it and thinks to themselves “hmm, that’s sorta cool” then I suppose it was worth it to share that brief image I had floating around in my skull.

The problem I have, as a non-artist with limited brain cycles devoted to creativity, is that the majority of the images in my head are about bacon (don’t worry, I’m in a twelve-step program for my addiction).  And bacon, while a delicious super food, doesn’t photograph well.