Monday, December 24, 2012

Wishing

On this Christmas Eve, when joy should reign and hearts should rest easy in the comforts of home and family, let us not forget those for whom this holiday holds a grief too big to imagine.

For Newtown, Connecticut.

For Webster, New York.

And for the many in this world whose stories are not splashed across headlines but whose grief, desperation, and pain are no lesser felt or worthy of our prayers.  May your load grow lighter, may your grief be eased, and may each dawning morning hold the promise of another chance to begin anew.

This is my Christmas wish.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lakeside Christmas





Don't let the sunshine fool you.  It's 30 degrees, even colder at night.  Windy enough to knock you over if you're not careful.  But inside it's warm and cozy, cookies are baking, and family is gathered round.  I hope everyone is enjoying the shortest days of the year, and the holidays that come with them - if you celebrate.

Love to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Year Gone By

It occurred to me tonight as I was brushing my teeth that exactly one year ago (or pretty close, I don't remember the exact date) I was convinced my life was over.  I know that when someone close to you dies, they say that it takes at least one full year to adjust to their absence - you have to live through the pain of every birthday, every holiday, every season change without them by your side in order to fully accept it and move on.  Maybe that's a little bit true for a heartbreak as well.  When the person you loved most in the world up and leaves your side, it certainly takes more than a couple of weeks to adjust to life without them.  And though the first few months of 2012 were downright miserable, as the seasons warmed, so did my heart.  I thought of Alix on her birthday in August, yes, and I reminisced about our life together on one of my trips back to New York to visit friends.  But if I hadn't gotten to a place where I felt okay about being on my own, and where I was excited and proud to be going to grad school of my own volition, and yes, even a little bit more comfortable in my own skin, I never would have met this person.


And I will not compare them.  Because that's just tacky.  But I love that when I'm stressed about finals, he will pull out a jar of bubbles - yes, bubbles - and blow them around the apartment until he can get me to smile.  Or that when we run together, the miles slip away under our feet and with them, the worries and stresses of the day and there is nothing else, just me and him.

I don't know what the future holds, indeed none of us do.  But today seems like a fitting day to close the door on a part of my past that I am happy to leave behind.  This past year of at first overwhelming and piercing, and then lessening and dulling grief is done.  Happily, I am letting it go.  I hope that Alix, too has found a better love, that she has left her demons behind and found a path that fulfills her and brings her joy.  I think that both of us deserve that.  

* * *

And with the successful submission of my online Anatomy & Physiology final this evening, I am officially done with my first semester of nursing school!  It was harder than I could have anticipated, and in ways that I never could have predicted, but ultimately - I am so glad I am there, learning as much as I am, and one semester closer to catching babies down the road.  That said, I slept 12 hours last night and took a 2 hour nap this afternoon, so Yale, you're awesome in a lot of ways, but the amount of sleep you allow me is seriously an issue.  Let's work on that, okay?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Defies All Words

I am not a parent.  And though I have loved children fiercely in my years as a nanny, and have wished sometimes idly and sometimes passionately over the years to be a mother already, on Friday afternoon when I learned of the shooting that happened not even an hour from where I live, I was suddenly and profoundly grateful to not be a parent.  Partly because I simply could not fathom being one of the parents of the 20 children killed, or even a parent of the hundreds of children who survived but will go on to face a life whose innocence has been ripped away far too early.  But also because whether 45 minutes away or 12 hours away from the small town of Newtown where this happened, for every parent whose life and family was not touched by this horror, I don't know how the fear and the powerlessness and helplessness doesn't drive you into the basement, holding your babies close and never letting them go.  I mean, I do know.  I know that you can't live your life in fear.  I know that you still need to send your kids to school and you can grieve for the lives lost and affected and accept that there is no way to know when or where things like this will happen.  I know those things.  But I also remember how it felt when a classmate's dad died suddenly of a massive heart attack on a random Tuesday afternoon when we were fifteen, and how I went home and hugged my father more tightly than I had in a decade and I felt how fiercely my love for him could not ever stop something like a heart attack (or cancer, for that matter) from touching him, from touching our family, and that scared the shit out of me.

Love cannot stop bad things from happening.  I still believe in it, like I believe in God - not because something or someone tells me to, but because I can feel and I can see what love and God (the same thing, essentially) looks like and feels like in the world around us but it is not all powerful.  It doesn't stop mass shootings.  It doesn't keep people from getting cancer or dying of heart attacks or facing mental illness that threatens to eat them alive.  But just like we treat heart disease with Lipitor and Coumadin, and we treat cancer with chemotherapy and radiation, we have ways to treat mental illness too.  And we need to treat it.  We need to allow people access to this care, and provide for continuity of care, and yes, maybe even force people to accept treatment when they might not want to for the safety of themselves and those around them.

Out of the many, many pieces being written about Friday's tragedy, these are three that have profoundly moved me, made me think, and educated me.  I encourage you to take a look.


Did This Really Happen in My Elementary School?
"...How could the elementary school where I wrote my first story and got in trouble for calling Ross Perot a butthead also be the site of the nation's second-deadliest school shooting? I can't reconcile the memories I have of Sandy Hook School with the events of today. They simply aren't the same place."


Thinking the Unthinkable
"...On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense."


"...The idea that the only thing between you and twenty dead kids lying at your feet is a couple of functioning neural pathways.  That all it takes is one break somewhere inside your brain and suddenly you are hearing voices and think everybody is out to get you.  That in six months you can go from being a well-liked and reasonably happy individual to planning a mass murder."

Monday, December 10, 2012

A letter

Dear next year's GEPNs,

Your fate (as it relates to grad school) is currently being decided by my professors on the admissions committee.  I know this waiting game is nerve-wracking, but it's out of your hands now and you've done everything you can do.  You worked your butt off on that application, I know you did (because I did too).  I signed up a few days ago to host you in February when you come for your interviews, and I'll also be speaking to you as a current GEPN when you split into these little sub-specialty groups, also on your interview day.  But I have something to tell you now.  And I will tell you this again and again. And you might look at me as someone who is not even finished with her first semester of nursing school and roll your eyes and wonder what in the hell of value I might have to share with you (and you would probably be right) but bear with me.

I am here to tell you that the culture of nursing has to change, and it can change, and it is changing, and you are part of that.  It starts with us.  It begins with us, as nursing students.  It goes like this - for a long, long time, nursing has been about "eating your young."  I'm not going to get on a soapbox as a baby nursing student and say a lot about the value of how preceptors and instructors teach us, but what I am going to say is this, so listen closely:

You need to take care of each other.

You need to.  It is nonnegotiable.  Other graduate programs might be about competition.  They might be about beating each other out for opportunities at internships and jobs, and they might be about proving yourself to your instructors and your peers.  I wouldn't know.  I wouldn't know, because I chose a profession that is built on a foundation of caring and that begins with how we take care of each other.  You will hear Linda make offhand references to getting close to your clinical group members, or you might hear older students talk about the connections they've made within their specialty.  That is not enough.  Hear me now, and hear me good - when you show up to Yale next August, you are not alone.  You are not an island.  You will not survive, you will not thrive, you will not be happy if you try to be an island.

You need to hold someone's hand when your first MedSurg test grade is posted.  You need to be able to look at someone in your clinical group and with only your eyes tell them that you need help bathing this patient, that it is too much and too hard for you to do alone and they will do it.  You need to be able to go hide in the bathroom at clinical and cry for two minutes (and two minutes ONLY) and know that they will cover for you.  You need to be able to study with someone (or multiple someones) late into the night before your test, and you need someone to tell you to take deep breaths and help you brainstorm nursing diagnoses for your care plan for your patient that is dying.  You need to be these things for your peers.  You need to be brave, and do these things even when they don't come easily to you (believe me, they do not always come easily to me) because as much as you will hear other people tell you during interview day and orientation and over and over again that you need to take care of yourself (and this is true, you do) you need to take care of each other, too.

You will be a better nurse because of it.  You will be a better person, too.

I wish that someone had told me this when I started.  Because I am fighting to make this true now.  And I am fired up about it, in a good way.  I was lonely and sad last week, and wallowed for a day and then stopped.  Because I am not the only one that is lonely.  We are all orbiting around in this incredibly hard new universe, feeling lonely and tired and scared and alone.  It doesn't need to be that way.  I know it doesn't, because I stretched and bent and reached out and I didn't break and things are better and it can be that way for you too, from the very beginning, not just starting in December.

Take charge.  Take care of each other.  Be each other's best resource, be the person someone calls in the middle of the night, be the best version of yourself that you never knew you could be.

Because nursing school is a long road.  But it's a hell of a lot more fun when you've got great people on the road right there with you.

Love,
Cait

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Blank Page

The second-year specialty midwifery students (me in two years) are officially done with "school" tomorrow - in the spring, they do an extended internship/job situation where they work as a midwife under a preceptor before graduating in May.  At a send-off dinner for them tonight, we sat around and listened to stories and memories of their last two and a half years here at Yale and I sat and thought two different things, overlapping in my head like two lines of melody in the same piece of music.  One was, "That's only two years away, and that will be you.  Holy shit."  The other was, "What makes you think that you will ever be up to the task of doing this thing, this sheltering and fostering and holding and catching and guiding of new life into this holy glorious fucked up world we are in?"

I don't know if I will ever stop grappling with that second question.  Truthfully, I don't think I ever should.  Because birth is a small thing, yes.  It is everywhere, it is billions upon literal billions of people.  It is over and over and over, the hormones and bones and muscles and breathing and work and sometimes it goes horribly wrong, but mostly it goes so right that it becomes just another whisper in the babble that never ends.  And sometimes, I can picture myself doing it.  I can see how it might look, and I can see students like those I saw tonight, who are doing it and have done it and look, Cait, yes it's a real thing and it will happen to you because you are here and that is why you are here.  But so much more often, and probably for years to come, what I feel more is the vast and gaping space between my fierce intention and my complete and full acceptance of the knowledge that this is just all so much bigger than me and bigger than I can catch and bigger and scarier than anything I could ever do.  And how on earth did I think that I could be that person, catching life and bringing it in?

Because birth is also huge.  It is everything.  It is the dark and terrifying tunnel, it is the orbit, and it is the way out.  It is endless hours, the single moment, it is the breaking down and the building back up.  It is sometimes the end, but it is so much more often the beginning of the very beginning.  The very first page.

There is something that I repeat to myself a lot, ever since starting this program.  One of those things is that, "Done is better than good."  This helps, sometimes a lot.  But another is this: The first and most important thing you need to do is show up.

You have to show up.  That's always the first step.  There are steps beyond that, and they might be hard, and you might never feel like you were ready until after you've done your first (or tenth) one.  But you have to be willing to show up.  You have to be willing to write the first page.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

When December Comes

Alright, well, I gave 30 Days Hath November my very best shot.  I promise.  I had some vague idea about sitting down yesterday and writing twelve blog posts before midnight in order to finish it under the letter of the law, if not the spirit.  Obviously that didn't happen, because instead I spent most of yesterday dripping tears like a leaky faucet, taking a bath, rallying to run some errands and eat nachos with the boy before then collapsing into bed and falling asleep.

Sometimes Yale is lonely.  Sometimes I feel like even three months in, I'm still the odd kid out at the playground, watching everyone else have a good time and never being asked to join in.  I'm working on it, this making friends thing.  It's hard, still.

But I put up Christmas lights, and made chili and bread today, and all of that helps marginally, so that's something.

Stay warm, everyone.

Warmer days

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Outfitted

Sigh.  And I actually got dressed in real clothes today!  I made more of an effort because I got invited to go to the monthly Morbidity & Mortality conference over at the hospital this afternoon and I thought hey, a little professionalism never hurt in those situations.  But then I got home and did that thing where I come in the door after being at school for 10.5 hours (yes, really) and I was all like, I need to pee and then I need to take off these tights and this skirt and this sweater and this thong and this underwire bra and I need to be in sweatpants and a t-shirt NOW.

Once upon a time, this shirt belonged to the boy.  I don't drink soda.  But omigod it's so comfortable.

Dear sweatpants,
Thank you for being there for me.  Especially when I am exhausted, unshowered, and out of clean underwear.  I think our relationship is bordering on codependence but at least for the next two and a half years that I am in grad school, I really don't care.
Love,
Me


30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.
Day 11: Three years ago today.
Day 12: The last item I purchased.
Day 13: Something I'm proud of.
Day 14: Style inspiration for the season.
Day 15: Three blogs I always read.
Day 16: Someone who inspires me.
Day 17: My family.
Day 18: What I wore today  am wearing right now.

Family Ties

My family is big.

My siblings and I.  Aren't they all ridiculously tall?  In this picture, I am wearing three inch heels.  And they still tower over me.


I love them.  But my family is also this girl:


And these girls:


And the boy.  He's included now too.

* * *

Family can be blood.  But it doesn't have to be.  Family is this:


Family is the people that care.  The people that give a shit.  I'm lucky to have so many.


30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.
Day 11: Three years ago today.
Day 12: The last item I purchased.
Day 13: Something I'm proud of.
Day 14: Style inspiration for the season.
Day 15: Three blogs I always read.
Day 16: Someone who inspires me.
Day 17: My family.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Twelve Weeks Later

When the five of us shuffled into the hospital for the first time, we were worse than useless.  We were useless but dressed in scrubs and with ID badges, giving us the profoundly misleading appearance of being way better than useless.

Our first day on the floor, only twelve short weeks ago, the following things happened in my clinical group:
A. started sweating so badly in her contact precautions gown that our preceptor had to lead her out of the room, sit her down, and take her vitals.
K. delayed going into her patient's room for so long that by the time she did, her patient just wanted to go to bed.
T. lost her stethoscope and spent an hour looking for it on every mobile computer station on the floor.
W. listened to her patient's heart with the wrong side of her stethoscope and flew into a panic when she couldn't hear any heart sounds.

And I...well, you all have heard tell of my many clinical inadequacies.

But now?  Times have changed, y'all.  And today, on our second to last day on the floor this year, I looked around at all of us and my heart swelled with pride.  My group, these girls, they inspire me so much.  Every shift, we grow and adapt in ways that seemed impossible twelve weeks ago.  I held a stack of papers for A. today while she gathered her patient's meds, donned some gloves, and headed into his room.  I stood outside and listened while she calmly and confidently asked to see his wristband, confirmed his name and birthdate, and doled out three cups of pills with grace, charm, and precision.  She knew every med, she made sure he knew what he was taking and why, and she did the whole thing without a second thought.  That might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it is.  Or two weeks ago, T. and I gave her patient a bath and the tenderness with which she washed and combed her patient's hair while talking to her and telling her a story nearly took my breath away.  It was beautiful to see, and the patient's heart rate fell below 90 beats per minute for the first time all morning.

I know we are not nurses yet.  We have a lot of learning yet to do.  But when we're bustling around the floor, confidently heading into patients' rooms, handing out meds, emptying bedpans and changing sheets without a second thought, advocating for our patients to their doctors, looking up their labs and explaining procedures to them, ordering them meals, and flushing their IVs, I think back to the first day when we all were such disasters and my spirits lift.  These friends of mine inspire me to work harder every day.  I'm so sad that next week is our last week.


30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.
Day 11: Three years ago today.
Day 12: The last item I purchased.
Day 13: Something I'm proud of.
Day 14: Style inspiration for the season.
Day 15: Three blogs I always read.
Day 16: Someone who inspires me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Wordy Hunger

When I just cannot take another minute of pathophysiology, I let my eyes glaze over while perusing the beautiful recipes on...



And when I want to imagine that someday I'll branch out enough to try a different pie crust recipe or buy a seventh kind of flour to make one very specific scone recipe, I gaze wistfully at the recipes on...



And finally, when I need a story with my food porn eye candy or my heart hurts and I miss my nanny kids or I feel like the precariously constructed box I've built around me is crashing in, there is always...



* * *

Because feeding the soul is just as important (or maybe even more important) than feeding the body.

* * *

30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.
Day 11: Three years ago today.
Day 12: The last item I purchased.
Day 13: Something I'm proud of.
Day 14: Style inspiration for the season.
Day 15: Three blogs I always read.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Not Inspiring At All

At least half of my clothes don't fit me.

When I was an emaciated size 2, I convinced myself that I would never, ever, ever gain back the weight I had lost and so I got rid of almost everything I owned that was too big for me.  While I am usually such a fan of decluttering and donating, for the last few months, I have been kicking myself that I got rid of so much stuff that (whether I like it or not) I would fit into again these days.

So yeah.

Style inspiration for the season?  Not much.

I still don't like how my body looks.  I don't like what I see in the mirror.  The boy will routinely tell me to "stop mean mugging" myself in the mirror because he's a little sick and tired of me grimacing at what's looking back at me while I struggle to find clothes to wear each day.  I wind up wearing either some version of leggings and a sweater most days, or my one pair of jeans that fit, or my scrubs when I have clinical, or sweats when I just can't take it anymore and give up before I burst into tears (or after, as the case may be).

Pretty much the only time these days that I don't care what I look like in clothes is when I'm running.  Usually it's darkish, so that helps.

Sorry for the debbie downer post, you guys.  But yeah.  Sometimes recovery is awesome.  And sometimes it sucks so fucking much you want to punch it in the nads.

30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.
Day 11: Three years ago today.
Day 12: The last item I purchased.
Day 13: Something I'm proud of.
Day 14: Style inspiration for the season.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

To Be Here Now

A few weeks ago, I took the train to New York to see my dear friend, J.  It was a week after Superstorm Sandy devastated the East coast and they had managed to turn a post-Halloween costume party that was doubling as a birthday party for one of their dogs into a kind-of-fundraiser "Wear a Costume and Bring a Canned Good" party that extended the promise to lots of friends that if we provided food and booze, then they should donate a little something to the hurricane relief effort.  Oh, and everyone had to wear a mustache.  (We provided those too, lest anyone show up and lament that they couldn't wear a mustache because they just didn't own one.)

Sitting on the couch, chatting with a friend of theirs whom I hadn't met before, he said something and I replied something about one of my patients from the week before.  Then this happened:

Him: Oh, where do you work?
Me: Oh, I'm still in school, in nursing school.
Him: At NYU?
Me: No, no, I live in Connecticut, actually.  I used to live in the city, which is how I know these guys.
Him: Whereabouts in Connecticut?
Me: Um...in New Haven...
J (from across the room): She goes to Yale - Cait, you go to Yale, it's okay to tell people that!

Enter me blushing furiously, and why, exactly?  I mean, yes, I go to Yale.  But I go to grad school there, which is something that - at least in my head - is fundamentally different than coming out the other side of the lions' den that is their undergraduate admissions process.  For whatever myriad of reasons, I don't talk about where I go to school.  I don't like the connotations that the name carries, and I certainly don't think it lends me any extra clout or prestige in the nursing world.  But grad school itself (nameless or otherwise) is something of which I am intensely proud.

College was a given in my family.  Not because either of my parents finished their own college educations.  And certainly not because we could afford to be sending all seven children on to four years of post-secondary education.  No, purely because my mother was bound and determined that we would all be given the best possible future she could muster for us and so out went the TV, in came the homework and the extracurriculars and the part-time jobs and the wrinkled-up cried-over admissions essays but by golly, she did it.  We all went.  Every last stinking one of us.  And by the time I was old enough to be aware of it, the standard was set: I was going to college.

Grad school, on the other hand, was up to me.  From start to finish.  And there are days, still, where I look around at my life and I think, holy shit and Is this real? And it is!  It is real!  I actually am in grad school, becoming a nurse, and then later becoming a nurse-midwife and it's so freaking cool that it still makes me smile.  I am proud of myself for being here.  That I got myself here, all by myself.  That I'm doing this with my life.  And that when the question arises: What would you do with your life if you could do anything at all?

My answer is this.  Exactly what I'm doing right now.


30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.
Day 11: Three years ago today.
Day 12: The last item I purchased.
Day 13: Something I'm proud of.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The last item(s) I purchased

1.  Gas for my parents' car
2.  Brandy, for the fruitcakes that take from now until Christmas to be complete
3.  Crisco, for the cranberry-apple and mincemeat pies we ate yesterday (and today)
4.  Fenugreek, for a recipe I want to try
5.  Coffee.  Because I'm me.

FUN FACT: tea made from fenugreek is said to increase milk supply.  It's also a tasty addition to Indian food.


30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.
Day 11: Three years ago today.
Day 12: The last item I purchased.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Three Years Ago

In the fall of 2009, I had...


...some truly amazing, irreplaceable friends.  They pulled me from the darkness more times than I could count.


...days, still, where I was so paralyzingly sad that I couldn't see how to keep going.  Days that felt like even a year out from being hospitalized and being on the right meds was not enough time to hold back the growling, howling, teeth-gnashing beast of crazy that had crash-landed into my life.

But - also, this:
(from my Facebook, late November, 2009) "...is exponentially happier than she was last year at this time."

I loved Alix.  And she loved me.  And three years ago today, her love was a force of good in my life that propelled me through my last (drama-filled and anxiety-packed) year at Smith.

All that said...it's good to be where I am now.

* * * 
30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.
Day 11: Three years ago today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Eggplant Can Be Sexy

I used to loathe eggplant.  I thought it was slimy, and bitter, and rubbery and I resented its very existence in the world of food.  Sadly, eggplant can be all of those things - but it doesn't have to be.  It can be silky and smooth and smoky and - dare I say it - sexy.  Yes, sexy.

I am a firm believer that baba ganouj is better than hummus.  It's hummus's awkward cousin at the summer barbecue, who has a weird name, like Anastasia that no one can pronounce, but at the end of the movie, everyone is going to realize how much more awesome she is than her simply-named and conventionally-pretty cousin, Kimmie.

Here is the only recipe for baba ganouj you will ever need.  Originally, it came from a Moosewood cookbook and has four or more extra ingredients, like parsley and scallions and other unnecessary things.  There are five gazillion Moosewood cookbooks, so please don't ask me which one it's from because I have no idea.  All I know is that I have committed this recipe to memory and people moan over it when I bring it to potlucks, and then sidle up to me like I'm operating an undercover meth lab out of my kitchen and ask me in an undertone, "How did you make this?"  Good readers, here is how:

Preheat your oven to 400.
Take two eggplants and cut off the stem end.  Then prick holes all over the eggplants with a fork.
Put them into the oven, directly on the racks.  It's a good idea to put some tinfoil on your oven floor to catch drips.
Set your timer for at least 45 minutes, though it can take up to an hour.
When the eggplants are falling apart, practically sinking through the oven rack, and look like something dead on the side of the road - carefully take them out of the oven with some tongs and a big bowl and let them cool until you can touch them without swearing.
Scoop all of the insides into a food processor.  Make sure no skin gets in, and leave no insides behind.  Be fastidious.
Add 1/2 cup tahini, the juice of one lemon, 3 (or 5, if you're me) crushed garlic cloves, 1 tsp coarse salt,  and five or six grinds of fresh black pepper.  Whiz it up until it's smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve this warm with bread, pita, vegetables, a spoon, your fingers.
Prepare yourself for the moans and admiring glances at your next potluck.
If there are leftovers, eat them with a spoon, in the dark of night, with the fridge door propped open.
It will make you happy.

* * *

30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.
Day 10: A favourite recipe.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Liebster: Like Lobster, but Without Butter

Allison, over at Allison the Meep nominated me for a Liebster award.  Which is not something that comes on a roll with mayo, because that chick is so gluten free that her head would spin if you brought a bread product near her face.  What it is, however, is an award for wonderful, but lesser-known blogs of the big blogging world.  It made me smile, because my tiny corner of the internet makes me very happy but apparently also entertains a few others as well!  So I'm gonna answer my given eleven questions, and then nominate eleven five other blogs (I am sorry to say, I simply do not know 11 bloggers well enough to nominate them for this), and give them eleven questions to answer as well.  Read on.

1. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Usually (and most depressingly), my Med/Surg textbook, as discussed here.  But now that I am on break (italics are necessary because it is still so shocking that I am still very excited), I am attempting to finish The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, a novel that I have been working on since August.  Yes, August.

2. If eating a cockroach guaranteed you and your family financial security for the rest of your lives, would you do it?
Abso-fucking-lutely.  I'm sorry, but would anyone NOT do this?  I am going to be delivering babies from my wheelchair in the senior center in order to pay off my Yale loans, you better believe I'd house some crunchy suckers in order to wipe that clean.

3. Do you have any phobias?
Phobias, no.  Fears, yes.  I'm scared of the open ocean, and sometimes heights make me queasy, but I don't rearrange my life to avoid these things.

4. If you could possess one super power, what would it be?
I used to think I'd want to be invisible, but is there anything worse than feeling like you're invisible in a room full of people normally?  Why would I want to perpetuate that feeling?  Unconventional, perhaps, but I would love to be able to function and thrive on four hours of sleep a night.  I'd sleep from 2 AM to 6 AM, and I'd be golden.  I'd get so much studying done!  It'd be awesome.

5. What is your favorite food?
Let's do this systematically.  Sweet: rhubarb pie.  Savory: cheese.  Plant-like material: tomatoes, raspberries, mangoes, avocados, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and radishes (right?  Obviously with the radishes).

6. What do you like best about yourself?
When I go to read this question, my brain makes a farting sound.  It wants to say, "Thbpppbth...NOTHING!"  Not true, I tell Brain.  I like my nose.  It's cute.  I also like my hair.  I used to hate it, but age has improved it.  It's long, and blonde, and I've never dyed it, and it's wavy and hippie and swings around my shoulders and gets gnarly when it's a little dirty.  Also, I'm kind.  Not perfectly, and not without faults and missteps, but I am kind, and compassionate, and can be fiercely protective.  See what I did there, Brain?  Shut your pie hole.

7. Do you give money to homeless people when they ask? Why or why not?
Only once.  To a man in the subway station I passed through every day, I saw him, his sign had only one word on it: AIDS.  I put a $20 bill in his cup.  The reason I don't usually give money is because I used to volunteer in a homeless shelter, and I heard firsthand what most people do with the money they panhandle for.  It wasn't pretty.  I'd rather volunteer.  Or if I have extra food, I'll always ask if they're hungry, if they'd like an untouched sandwich or a fresh piece of fruit.

8. If money was not an issue and all of your basic needs were taken care of, what would you do with your life?
This question makes me happy, because truly, truly all those things being taken care of - I'd still want to deliver babies.  I'd love to be able to do it for free, of course, but no such luck, future clients of mine.  Maybe I'd love to work a little less and have a few more babies of my own, but hey.  If it's not one thing, it's another, right?

9. When do you feel the most clarity?
About mile five of a run.  Everything has (mostly) stopped hurting at that point, and the mind clouds drift away.  I would run forever, if I could just stay right there.

10. There are 3 contestants, and only one can win: cake, pie, or cookies?
This is not even a question.  Pie.  Made by me.  I am cocky about my pie skills.  Yes, yes I am.

11. Squirrels: Love or hate?
Are squirrels like a thing?  Do people love them or hate them?  I find them mildly irritating.  Get out of the road!  Stop taunting my dog!  That kinda thing.  I reserve hate for things like when people touch my belly button.  Now THAT is something to get fired up about.


* * *

Nominations

* * *

Their questions, should they choose to accept them:
1.  What is the correct way to pronounce Nutella?  (NEW-tella, or NUH-tella??)
2.  How do you sign off on emails?
3.  When is the last time you were proud of yourself?
4.  Do you ever talk to yourself?
5.  What do you eat for breakfast most days?
6.  How does it make you feel when someone tells you that you're beautiful?
7.  You don't need to elaborate on who you would say this to, but what's one thing you need to say, and haven't yet (or never will)?
8.  Tell me a memory that involves crazy weather.
9.  Which is better, mechanical pencils or good old-fashioned No. 2's?
10.  Should clean underwear be folded?
11.  What do you do when you can't fall asleep?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Today

 Sometimes I feel like each day is a pile of jagged puzzle pieces that I have to piece together as I go along.  And every day the puzzle is different.  But deceptively so, because I'll think I know how this one (say, the Thursday puzzle) goes together, but then I'll realize oh no, wait, this week it's actually completely different.  Try again.  It's a good lesson in time management and task focus (neither of which I am very good at).  So.  This is what Thursday, November 15, 2012 looked like for me...

This is what time my alarm went off.


I only groaned a little.  I was definitely up and into the 45 degree air by 5:10.  In half an hour, I cut up a grapefruit to have for breakfast, I made a PB&J to pack for lunch, I drank four big glasses of water, peed twice, hopped around in the cold, took a deep breath before shimmying out of my pajamas and into my yoga clothes, double and triple checked that my school bag had everything for school and my yoga bag had everything for yoga and showering afterwards, and then went to 6 AM Bikram, which is really just 90 minutes of why why why whywhywhy going through my head until I'm done.  Fastest shower of my life.  Into sweats and off to school by 8 AM.

The clothes go into a plastic bag because yes, they are dripping with sweat.  And two towels.  One for sweat, one for shower.
Not very many people came to my pharmacology class this morning - our professor usually (generously) cancels class on the days when we have a Med/Surg test at 10 AM, but she couldn't today because Sandy made for some missed days of school and we were behind.  I chugged coffee, ate my grapefruit, chugged water, and convinced our professor to tell us a few stories from her days as a pharmacist in NYC once we finished our lecture on anxiolytics and antidepressants.

At 10 AM, I had my third Med/Surg exam.  88 questions.  All of the possible answers are at least partially correct (not kidding).  It's brutal.  We sit in this windowless room, packed in like pickles, and slog through the 24 page test packet, frantically rechecking our bubbles on the Scantron we're filling in as we go.  Dazed and confused, I finished around 11:30 and retreated to my school's atrium to eat some lunch.

Mindless Facebook-ing, Twitter-ing, and PB&J scarfing commenced.

At 1 PM, I had my last pathophysiology class before Thanksgiving break.  We finished up membrane potentials and started on central nervous system signaling.  I had to dig deep in my brain for my senior year of college neurophysiology knowledge and managed to dredge up the key bits.

Ahh...done with class by 3 PM!  Fell asleep on the shuttle home.  Dani shook me awake at my stop, thank goodness, or I would still be on that bus.


Really, really, really didn't want to go for a run but that half marathon is not just going to run itself, now is it.  It took me until 5:15 to summon the energy, but by golly I did.  Pulled the negative splits I was aiming for and made it home in time for a shower before babysitting.

Met a new family tonight, close by in my neighborhood, they need a few date nights a month.  Sweet baby, slept the whole time.  Libby (a Labradoodle) and I cuddled happily on the couch, while I enjoyed:
a) heat that I didn't have to pay for
b) muted TV on all of the cable channels we can't afford, on a TV five times the size of ours
c) a chance to talk to my sister on the phone, which just doesn't happen enough but is so wonderful when it does.



Parents got home at 11:15.
Came home.
Climbed into bed.
Zzzzz......


30 Days Hath November
Day 01: A place I'd like to travel.
Day 02: A favourite movie.
Day 03: Something I never leave the house without.
Day 04: A friend I adore.
Day 05: My hometown.
Day 06: A book I'm reading.
Day 07: A song for the day.
Day 08: Three inspirational quotes.
Day 09: A close-up of my day.