The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl?
A Novel By Teddie S.
Copyright © 2018 Teddie S.
All Rights Reserved.
Awéé’? Me teach classes? A passenger.
We had spent some time at the range with my aunt and uncle shooting our rifles and pistols. Then Ajie and I took a hike that took us past the remote hogan, and we found Naainish there. He told us that Peshlakai had been ‘talked to’ and not to worry about him. Then Naainish asked me to visit a dying sheep rancher with him, which I did. It was an interesting experience.
When I’d gotten home from being with the old sheep rancher, I’d checked the answering machine. I was hoping that I’d hear from my advisor, Mr. Robertson, about my grad assistant position. But no such luck.
Then I had just enough time to change from Kai to Tom, and make it to the hospital to pick up Amy. When I arrived at the hospital the hallway outside the emergency room was a flurry of activity. I stopped and looked. And, I saw three nurses and a doctor helping a woman laying on the floor. One of the nurses was holding what seemed to be a newborn baby.
Another guy standing there, said, “She and her husband came in, and she was screaming that the baby was coming. She then laid down on the floor, and the baby came. The nurses and doctor were out here quickly helping her.”
We watched as two of the nurses cleaned up the baby. And then I realized that the nurse holding the baby was Amy. She finally looked at me and smiled. I smiled back at her. Then she said, “Tommy, I may be a little late.”
“I figured as much.”, I replied. “I’ll be here.”
They brought out a wheelchair and got the mother into it, handed her the baby, and wheeled both of them into the ER. I looked at the clock, and it was just a couple of minutes past three. I then went and sat in the waiting room.
Fifteen minutes later Amy came out into the waiting room, and said, “Come on honey, let's go home.”
I got up, and we walked out the door of the emergency room. And as the door closed behind us, I said, “You looked cute holding the awéé’ (baby). Want one?”
“Oh. Ah.”, Amy said. “Not yet. But someday.”
Then to change the subject, Amy said, “Today was kind of slow until she came in. But I’ve met a lot of nice people and was able to explore and find things. They have me working with another nurse until I learn the ropes.”
“Knowing you. It won’t take long.”
When we were back at the apartment, we went upstairs as Amy wanted a shower. As she undressed, I noticed something, and asked, “Honey, why weren’t you wearing your honor society pin?”
“My Sigma Theta Tau pin?”, Amy replied.
“I just didn’t.”
“I just didn’t want to make a bad impression.”
“Honey, what am I going to do with you. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished.”
“I am. I just don’t want to flaunt it.”
“Does anyone else there wear the pin?”
“Yeah. I saw a couple of Sigma Theta Tau pins.”
“Please wear yours. And when you graduate with your masters, you had better wear your honor cords from Sigma Theta Tau and Ohio State.”
“Honey, everyone that knows you are proud of your accomplishments. You should be proud of them too. Don’t sell yourself short.”
I let Amy take her shower, and when she came downstairs I had cold drinks for us, so we sat at the kitchen table and talked. Amy asked, “So tell me about your day?”
“It was interesting.”, I said. And I went on to tell Amy all about my day. And when I finished, I said, “You know in the past few days, I’ve witnessed two deaths, a traumatic one and a natural one. And today I witnessed a birth. I think I understand the Navajo belief of the cycle of birth, life, and death.”
“I think I understand the cycle too, having witnessed two of the three that you did.
“Where’s the rug that they gave you?”
“Draped over the couch.”
Amy looked, smiled, and said, “That’s very pretty. And I kind of like it there.”
“Yes, it is.”, I replied. “You know, I don’t even know that old man’s name.”
“Naainish never told you?”
“No. And I never asked. I’ll have to ask Naainish the next time I see him.”
Then Amy told me about her day, and it was just about like her first day of clinicals back home. Meeting people, talking with the head nurse, learning where everything was, learning their procedures, and things like that. They did have a couple of car accidents come in with a few broken bones, cuts, and internal injuries. They had a gunshot wound come in, and the police were there for that. And they had one person flown in by helicopter from a ranch after taking a bad fall. Plus some other things.
Amy said that they told her that in the winter that they have a lot of skiing accidents come in, both from the local ski areas and from other ski areas, and most of them are flown in. And with all the broken arms and legs the orthopedic department is kept busy.
Then Amy said, “You witnessed the end of the most exciting thing of the day, the birth of the baby. And it was my first.
“When I was doing my clinicals, if anyone came in that was in labor they took them right away to delivery. But this baby wasn’t going to wait, so we did it right where she was. It was a great learning experience.”
“So things are different but the same?”
“Yeah. I’d say the biggest thing so far is the length of time that it can take someone to arrive from the scene of an accident. It helps to have the military bases around with the helicopters equipped for medical evacuation.”
“Like what we saw when we were at the cabin when the guy got hurt at the rocks?”
“So do you think that you’re going to like working there?”
“So far, yes.”
“How about going out to dinner to celebrate your first day as a nurse.”
“Hmm. I wish we were closer to Taos.”
“You’d like to go to Doc Martin’s Restaurant at the Taos Inn. Wouldn’t you?”
“Maybe this weekend when we’re at the resort.”
“I’ll hold you to it.”
“So, where would you like to go tonight?”
“Oh. Let’s see. Hmm. La Placita Dining Rooms.”
“Someone wants a Sangria. Don’t they?”
An hour later we were sitting down to a nice dinner. And since we were going to walk around Old Town after dinner, we both had a Sangria with our dinner. And Mexican Fried Ice Cream for dessert.
After dinner, we did walk around Old Town window shopping. We’d stop and look in the stops windows, and sometimes see some interesting things. And I wondered how many of the items were actually made by a native artisan.
We did find one pottery shop that was interesting, and we went in. The two women behind the counter were natives. We started looking around and saw some beautiful things. I knew that Amy was looking for something special, and I asked, “See anything that you like?”
“A few things.”, she replied.
“What are you looking for?”
“You know that piece of pottery that grandmother has in her apartment by the TV?”
“Something like that.”
“Sounds like we need to stop at that pottery shop in Taos next time we’re there.”
“Yes. I’d feel better about buying something there.”
“Maybe this weekend. And maybe we can see Mr. Tsinajinnie about the silver that was in the box.”
On Tuesday morning as we were walking out the door, I looked at Amy, and said, “Amylin Elizabeth Young, where is your Sigma Theta Tau pin.”
She turned looked at me, pointed to her collar, and said, “Right here, mister smarty pants.”
I smiled, said, “Good girl.” And I kissed her.
After I’d walked with Amy to the hospital, I stopped at the drug store and picked up the two papers. Then I came back to the apartment. I sat and skimmed the papers, and after I'd had finished with them, I sat there trying to decide if I was just going to sit here waiting for my advisor to call or what. But just sitting here wouldn’t be a good thing. So I wandered over to the library and read for a while.
Just before lunch, I remembered that I wanted to talk to Mr. Tsinajinnie, the appraiser in Taos, about the things that were in the box. So I went back to the apartment, had lunch, found the folder with Mr. Tsinajinnie information in it, and called him.
Mr. Tsinajinnie and I talked for a few minutes, and he did remember us. I explained what we’d found and that we’d like him to appraise it, and he was interested in seeing it. I told him that we’d be up that way from late on Friday through Sunday. And he asked if we could drop it off on Saturday morning and pick it up later that day. I told him that we’d see him on Saturday morning.
When Amy came home, I told her about talking to Mr. Tsinajinnie, and she was glad that I did.
Then I asked Amy if anyone had said anything about her Sigma Theta Tau pin. And she said that she had eaten lunch with four other nurses, two of who were wearing the pin, and they asked her about hers. And they were surprised that she had been granted membership while she was still a sophomore.
And, I still haven’t heard from my advisor.
Wednesday and Thursday were almost the same as Tuesday.
And still nothing from my advisor.
On Thursday evening, Amy picked up on me being down, and asked, “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“My stupid masters.”, I replied. “I haven’t heard from my advisor about anything.”
“Why don’t you call him?”
“I guess I’d better.”
“You had darn well better, mister.”
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll call or maybe even better stop in his office tomorrow morning.”
At breakfast on Friday morning, I asked Amy, “Do you have everything packed for this weekend?”
“Yes. And you’re going to pick me up outside the ER at three. Right?”
“Who’s picking me up. Tom or Kai?”
“I don’t know.”
“Going to surprise me?”
I walked with Amy to the hospital at seven, and then I walked over to the library. I forgot that they don’t open until eight in the summer, so I walked to the student union and got something to drink. It’s a little early in the day for Coke, so I didn’t drink much of it.
At eight o’clock I headed towards the Graduate School. I walked in, and the receptionist asked if she could help me. And, I said, “I’m Tom Young, and I’d like to see my advisor, Mr. Robertson.”
“He’s not in yet.”, she replied. “Let me check his schedule.”
She looked in the schedule book, and said, “He doesn’t have an appointment until nine. He should be here any minute. Would you like to wait?”
I sat and waited for about ten minutes, then Mr. Robertson walked in. The receptionist pointed me out to him, he walked over to me, and said, “Hello, Mr. Young. Let's go back to my office and talk.”
We walked back to Mr. Robertson’s office, and sat. Then Mr. Robertson said, “Mr. Young, I have to apologize to you for not staying in touch. But the research project that Dr. Kilmer was working on was funded by a government grant, and we’ve been working hard to find someone to replace him, or we’ll lose the grant.”
“And not knowing what’s been going on hasn’t been good.”, I replied. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do my masters or not.”
“I apologize for that. It’s my fault. I should have been in contact with you.”
“Yes, you should have. What’s Dr. Kilmer’s status with the university?”
“The faculty review board took his tenure away from him, and he resigned from the university. So we’ve been trying to fill his teaching position along with his research position.”
“What did he teach?”
“He taught Electric Circuits, and Electronic Circuits and Systems. They’re part of the core courses for a degree in electrical engineering.”
“Ohio State also requires something like that.”
“That’s right. OSU and didn’t you graduate Cum Laude?”
“Hmm. Have you ever thought of teaching?”
“Ah. No. Why?”
“Would you be willing to?”
“Maybe. I’ve never done it. Is there a good class syllabus?”
“There should be. I’ll have to talk to both deans about this.”
“What about the research project?”
“We may have someone for that, but his teaching load is almost too heavy now. And we were hoping to find someone to do both the teaching and research project that Dr. Kilmer was doing.”
“So, you’re thinking, along with me taking my two class, that I’d teach those two classes as a grad assistant, and also work on the research project?”
“Exactly, if the two deans and Dr. Oshie agree.”
“Yes, he’s a professor in the electrical engineering program, and is willing to take on the research that Dr. Kilmer was doing, but not the additional class load. And, I think that you’d like Dr. Oshie.”
“Yes. Like you, he’s an American Indian.”
“Oh. Do you know what tribe?”
“No. You’ll have to ask him.”
“When would I know about all of this?”
“I know all three of them are on campus. And I’ll try and set up a meeting with them for Monday if not later today. So I’d say you will know for sure on Monday if not later today.”
“We’re going to be gone all weekend. But we do have an answering machine. So if we’re not there, you can leave a message.”
“An answering machine? I’m not surprised.”
I smiled, as I said, “Yeah. I also like tinkering with things.”
“I promise you that I’ll call you as soon as I find out anything. Oh, one last thing. Is there anyone in the area that knows you? That we could talk to?”
“I have a couple aunts and uncles, out here.”
“How about someone that you’re not related to.”
“Well there’s Assistant Dean Etsitty from the College of Nursing, she knows me. My wife is her grad assistant. There’s Chief Kinlicheeny, he’s the Chief of the Navajo Nation. There’s Mr. Bylilly, he’s an assistant editor of the Navajo Times. Then there’s … ”
“Wait. That should be more than enough. You do know some people. Don’t you?”
“Who would be the best?”
“I guess any one of them.”
“And you wouldn’t have a problem with us contacting any of them?”
“No, sir. Oh, one last question. These two classes, how many sections and how often do they meet?”
Mr. Robertson took out a class schedule and looked. Then he said, “There are two sections in both classes. Electric Circuits meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first section meets at eight and the second section meets at nine. And Electronic Circuits and Systems meets three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The first section meets at nine and the second at ten. And they’re scheduled to meet in the same building and room.”
“At least I wouldn’t get lost. That might not be too bad, and my two classes are a little later in the day. And then I could work on the research project.”
With a chuckle, Mr. Robertson said, “Get lost! If you found your way around the campus at Ohio State for four years, this campus should be easy. I was there for a week-long seminar once, and it’s easy to get lost on that campus.”
“I was just trying to be funny.”
“I thought so. … Oh. Electronic Circuits and Systems also has a lab.”
“There are lab instructors for that.”
“Good. That would be a deal breaker.”
I felt good as I left Mr. Robertson’s office and headed back to the apartment. I wished that Amy wasn’t working so that we could go for a hike. Yes, I was thinking of that picnic area on the Armijo Trial in the Sandia National Forest.
It was almost lunchtime, and I’d finally gotten a good feeling about my master's degree program. My depression had left me. And I decided to go out for lunch. I’d like to take Amy to Old Town. But she’s working. So I took myself to our favorite drive-in for a double-cheeseburger with pickles, french fries, and the all-important ginger ale milkshake. Our friendly car-hop was working and waited on me. But he was too busy to say more than a few words as he took my order.
As I sat there eating, my mind was working. My ability to get up in front of people and speak wasn’t good. I had problems with it in both high school and college. Public speaking just wasn’t my strong suit. Could I really get up in front of a classroom full of college students and lecture them? Kai wouldn't have a problem. She liked to talk to people.
When I got back to the apartment, I checked the answering machine. I know. I know. I’m being over anxious. But if this works out, I’ll have everything in line to work on my masters, even though I wasn’t expecting to teach.
Then I started getting everything ready for a weekend at the resort, including myself as Kai. We may have time to go to the range, so I took the guns along.
A little before three I was pulling into the ER parking lot. And I couldn’t wait to tell Amy what might happen. About five after three Amy and another nurse came out of the ER entrance and walked over to the car. The other nurse looked to be a Navajo, and maybe five or ten years older than we are.
Amy opened the door, smiled, and said, “Hi. Kai.”
“Hi, Amy.”, I said. “Who’s your friend.”
“Oh. Kai, this is Kathy Benallie. Kathy this is Kai Nez. Kai, Kathy was going to take the bus to Santa Fe to see her parents, and I told her that we were going that way and could drop her off. Do you mind?”
“Of course not.” But I was really chomping at the bit wanting to tell Amy about today.
As we drove, Amy and Kathy talked about their day. Then Kathy said, “Kai Nez, my mother has mentioned a Kai Nez. It’s not a common name, is it you?”
“Who’s your mother?”, I asked.
“Mrs. Benallie. She runs a clothing shop outside of Santa Fe.”
I looked at Amy. Amy raiser an eyebrow.
“You are. Aren’t you?”, Kathy said. “You’re the Nádleeh.”
“Kathy.”, Amy said. “I hope you’re good at keeping secrets.”
“I am.”, Kathy replied. “Why?”
“Well. Kai is the Kai Nez that your mother knows.”
“Yes. And we’re trying to keep it a little quiet.”
“What did your mother tell you about Kai?”
“Well that she’s a Nádleeh. And that … No way, she can’t be a boy!”
“What is a Nádleeh?”
“Someone that has two spirits. A male one and a female one.”
“Kai is that way. What else did she tell you?”
“That Kai has a friend by the name of Ajie. And she knows the people that run the thermal resort. … No. Wait. Amy. You said you were going to the thermal resort for the weekend and that your husband is related to the people that run it.
“Oh my God. Amy you … you … you’re Ajie. And Kai is your husband.”
“Kathy.”, Amy said. “Now do you see why we’re trying to keep it quiet. Your mother understands, and so does your Aunt Mrs. Hatathli.
“We know that there will be people who don’t understand Kai, and it could get ugly. And the quieter that we can keep it the better.”
“I’m beginning to see what you’re saying. I’ll keep your secret.”
Kathy was going to give us directions to her mother’s shop, when Amy said, “Kathy, we know the way. We buy all of our clothes from her.”
“Everything but our Biil dresses.”
A short time later we were pulling into Mrs. Benallie clothing shop. The three of us got out of the car and walked into the shop. Mrs. Benallie saw her daughter first, and greeted her, then she realized who was with her, and she said, “Oolijee (Kathy), how do you know these two?”
“I work with Amy.”, Kathy replied.
“At the hospital?”
“Of course. And they were kind enough to give me a ride.”
“Kai. Ajie. Thank you very much.”
“Mrs. Benallie.”, I said. “It was no problem. We were coming this way. Tonight’s the last barbecue at the resort for the year.”
“Oolijee. Honey. These two are special people. Not only is Kai a Nádleeh, but they’re helping the children of the Nation with their dreams of education.
“You remember Dibe Bylilly. Don’t you?”
“Sure, mom. The girl that is such a great dancer.”
“Yes, these two are the ones that started a scholarship program that is going to help her with medical school. And others with their schooling.”
Kathy looked at us, and said, “I read about that, and it’s so wonderful.”
“Thanks, Oolijee.”, Amy said with a little smile.
“Mrs. Benallie.”, I said. “We’re going to have to run, or we’re going to be late.”
“Okay, kids.”, Mrs. Benallie said. And we got hugs.
Then Amy said, “Oolijee, I’ll see you on Monday.”
“Okay. And, remember at work it's Kathy.”, Kathy said.
"I'll remember. So long."
"Goodbye you two. See you Monday, Ajie."
We stopped long enough to give Kathy our speech about goodbye. And as we walked out the door, Amy and I said, “Hágoónee'.”
And we received a “Hágoónee'” from Kathy, or Oolijee, and her mom.
As we finished the drive to the resort, Amy told me about her day, which wasn’t much different than the other days this week. Then she asked me about my day. And when I told her of the possibilities that I might teach and have a research project, she was excited for me.
We drove into the resort and to my aunt and uncle’s house. The door was locked, so we figured that my aunt and uncle were already at the barbecue. I unlocked the door, and we took our luggage to our room. The only thing that I had to do was take off my sneakers and put on my wrap moccasins and add the jewelry that I was going to wear.
Amy removed her nurses uniform and put on a fancy long skirt, a fancy blouse, and her wrap moccasins. She braided her hair into a single braid that she put over her left shoulder with a fancy wrap at the end.
We both added the braided leather headband with the Eagle feather, a Concho belt, and our squash blossom necklaces. I used the Concho choker, and Amy, now Ajie, used the new hair-pipe bone choker. Then we both added bracelets and rings.
I placed what jewelry we weren’t wearing in the floor safe. And we headed to the barbecue area. As we walked into the area, we saw a lot of familiar faces. We heard the musicians and saw the dancers. And there appeared to be more than the usual number of men dressed like my uncle, Naainish, and Chief Kinlicheeny dress. They were wearing wrap moccasins, white linen pants, bright red shirts, red head scarfs, and various pieces of jewelry.
My aunt and uncle saw us, and we walked over to them. Grandma was also with them, and said, “There’s my girls.”
Ajie and I said together, “Yá’át’ééh alní'íní, amá sání.” (Good evening, grandmother)
“What are you two grinning about?”
“Oh, nothing much.”, Ajie replied.
“No, it’s something.”
“Kai got some good news about her master’s program.”
“Going to share?”
“Grandma.”, I said. “It’s not for sure, but I may be teaching a couple of classes, and I may have a research project to work on.”
“That’s wonderful. I was worried about you.”
“So was I, grandma.”, Ajie said.
“Kai. Ajie.”, my uncle said, “I’m glad you made it tonight. We have a lot of special guests tonight.”
“So I see, Uncle Paul.”, I replied.
As he handed me a sheet of paper, Uncle Paul said, “Kai, I have all the names for you, and in the order that they should be introduced.”
“There’s only ten, not including Chief Kinlicheeny and Naainish. Plus we want you to say something special about the dancers and musicians.”
“Okay. That’s not a problem.”
“Are you ready?”
I looked over the list of names, looked at Ajie, and she smiled at me, I smiled at her, grabbed her hand, then I said, “Okay, Uncle Paul. Let’s get this show on the road.”
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