Sunday, August 09, 2009

*Things that make you go Boom*

I was sitting in the computer lab on Wednesday feverishly finishing editing Corri and Karri's photo shoot when my phone began vibrating. A 310 #. No I.D. I answered. It was one of the professors in the film department. She was looking for someone to boom for her the following day in Santa Barbara. She's in the process of making a documentary detailing the corruption of the UC/CSU administrations and regents. I hesitated to accept as I have never done spontaneous boom work- all my experience is with sit-down interviews. But, she convinced me to go...(I couldn't say no to the money.)

I hopped on the freeway at 5am the next morning and sailed northward. I exited Mission St 2 hours later- record time! Found a park, went for a walk, photographed the Santa Barbara Mission- near and dear to my heart- (all 4th grade Californian children construct a miniature version of a CA mission, with gobs of help from parental units- and you guessed it- mine was Santa Barbara!)

After the morning festivities I was still plenty on time to Sharyn's accommodations.

We set up the camera- checked all equipment- she taught me about time coding and the rainbow bars that encode all the info an editor could possibly need to sync sound with picture...I ran some last minute errands as Sharyn loaded the car- We ate breakfast and drove to the shoot location.

We connected all cables, batteries, and did a light metering and balancing test- and then we dove into the crowd of protesters who had pooled outside the UC chancellor's hotel which he would be speaking at that day.

I was good for the first, maybe, 10 minutes. A little arm shake- I tried to find a position to stand in that would allow the rest of my body to shoulder some of the weight of the equipment. It just wasn't working for me- the only results these various strategies brought about were back and neck cramps. As the interviews progressed, I began to note the increasing pull of my messenger bag which had been stuffed with extra DV tapes and mammoth sized batteries-

Note to self: do not perform any work that involves raising your arms above your head for any length of time if you have low blood pressure.

We crossed the street. Sharyn had periodically let me know "sound is good!" We maneuvered almost flawlessly. This was a feat as I was connected to her camera by a 15 ft XLR cable. Unfortunately, it was at this point that a slow wave of nausea began to set in. My arms were struggling to hold position- Sharyn suggested I reposition the pole beneath me with the mic pointing up- it had begun dropping into frame- I wish this shift would have made the difference, but now my arms felt like lead pipes and everything seemed to be pulling me downward.

Mental ramblings went a bit like this: Don't throw up dawn. Hold in there ol' girl. You can do this- this interview will probably wrap in a minute- then you'll just tell Sharyn you really gotta sit down. Crap! I'm really going to puke everywhere! I feel like death! I can't do this another minute!

My left hand reached out for Sharyn's arm while my right continued to keep mic in correct position. All I could muster was a whisper. "Sharyn" She couldn't hear me. She was wearing ear buds- the only sound she was channeling was the input from the mic that was about to come crashing to the ground along with the girl gripping it.

On my second and last attempt to call her name zero sound left my lips as I had no strength with which to speak. The next thing I knew I was regaining consciousness- a white soundless blur of light broke the darkness. I heard people talking but couldn't understand anything they were saying- I began to make out the shapes of people faces and outlines of palm trees. Then the horrible realization hit me: I'm not in my bed... I', not waking up from a dream... I'm on the ground. I was supposed to be holding a boom pole! I must have passed out! NO!!!

I was being cradled in the arms of a stranger- Sharyn was barking orders at people: Everybody back up! Someone get a damp cloth for her face!

One of the protesters was shielding my eyes from the sun with his sign. Another man was praying for me...and my parents had been concerned that it would be a violent crowd.

I didn't want an ambulance to come- Death would be better than an inflated hospital bill! But I couldn't answer anyone's questions: What's your name? I shook my head yes and began to lose consciousness again.

No one ever plans to have an emergency- No one ever plans to leave their house that day only to end up on a cold metal tray, clothes being stripped away at lightening speed- please don't cut my shirt off my body- I.V.- E.K.G.- CAT Scan- they ran a billion tests on me- I was so thirsty- this wasn't in the contract- I'd gone into convulsions after I my head hit the ground. Diagnosis: Concussion. Do not pass go- Do not collect $200.

Sharyn was the perfect blend of mother and professional. I feel so bad about the whole thing and so does she. Her friend picked us up from the E.R. 3 hours later. I rode in the back seat with her friend's dog Willy licking my face the whole way to the house. I received top rate TLC. It could've been so much worse and at the same time it feels so bad.

Concussions leave one negotiating constant bouts of dizziness and nauseousness. I am taking it easy for a while. I am thankful for the wonderful staff at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital- and all those, pre and post hospital escapade, who nursed me back to life.


Kelly said...

My goodness Dawn! I am so glad that you are OK! You're life is very rarely dull. Love you and love that you are well and with the living!

Rebecca said...

OUCH! That musta hurt! Glad that all is well (or, should I say, better) and that you are on the road to recovery.